Laigueglia and Beyond in La Ponente, Liguria

June 6, 2023

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Laigueglia in the sun

As we said arrivederci to Genova, we traveled toward our next hotel in the town of Laigueglia in the Ponente. We are now moving west of Genova to explore lands that few Americans visit. 

Along the way we stopped to tour the neighboring town of Alassio. Both of these towns feature sandy beaches connected to one another, colorful homes and a welcoming, small-town feel. Although we visited a local church in Alassio, and the Hemingway wall, 

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The Hemingway Signature Wall in Alassio, Begun by Ernest Hemingway and continued throughout the years.

We were eager to check into our hotel on the beach. 

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Laigueglia is one of the 24 towns in Liguria designated as one of  I Borghi piu Belli D’Italia, The most beautiful towns in Italy. I think it deserves recognition. 

Who decides a town is worthy of the title of one of the most beautiful towns in Italy?  There is an association of Scientists who award the title.

First, there must be less than 15,000 inhabitants.

Each town must have a harmony of appearance, historically significant style, preserving the heritage of the town, the historical construction.

There must be an artistic element and a high livability index.

There is an annual fee to keep the designation. These are some of the true hidden gems of Italy, off the beaten path and well worth a visit.

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View from Deb Larsen’s room in our Laigueglia hotel

As we arrived, the clouds moved along with us. Still the sheer beauty of the area shined.

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Not only is our hotel right on the beach, it is family owned for 53 years by the same family and also has its own history. Originally, it was a religious community beginning in the 1400s. Some of the unique pieces of the past can still be seen as we walk to the elevator or the breakfast room.

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There is an ambiance here that we all appreciated.  It is beyond the typical beach hotel. Also, the owners were very welcoming, assisted us at breakfast, and so much more.

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The color of our hotel caught my eye on my first visit to Laigueglia. 

After staying here, it is embedded in my soul as a truly Ligurian experience.

As we had little chance to walk through the town without the rain that accompanied us here, below are 2 photos from an earlier visit showing the bastion of protection from the 1500s, helping to save the inhabitants from the Saracen attempts at invasion.

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Now Boats surround it.

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All Along the coastline of Liguria, defensive structures were prepared to repel attacks by the Saracens from Northern Africa and Spain.

The restaurant we visited the first night faced an attack from our appetite. La Pirata caters to lovers of all things from the sea. Each of us enjoyed an excellent meal and walk between the raindrops along the coast. Most of us called it a night as we would be off to explore another location and farm in the morning.

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Photo by Deb Larsen, one of our travelers

After a healthy breakfast we were picked up by our driver. We left the sea behind and moved inland to Bastia di Albenga and an organic business called BioVio. This family-owned business specializes in healthy, organic food, wine, olive oil and herbs. 

After meeting most of the family in the restaurant area, Vincenzo became our tour guide as we walked to their farmland nearby. Vincenzo explained how they grew seasonal fruits and vegetables to use as a family and in their restaurant.

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We met Vincenzo’s father-in-law gathering zucchini flowers, the last of the season. Little did we know they would be served to us later.

Next, we entered a structure and walked downstairs where our noses were met with the overwhelming scents of different herbs—mostly basil. It was a sensual treat for all our senses. The family sells their organic herbs to grocery stores in the Ponente. Their system was amazing to see.

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It really was a wonder watching the process and bagging all the produce. We were all becoming hungry as we walked back to have an amazing 5 course meal.

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We took a small detour so that Rick, one of the travelers, could take a closer look at a vintage Fiat. It was a fun little car to examine.

We had the restaurant at BioVio to ourselves. Our first course included

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Lovely fresh fruit with a bit of basil.

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This fried zucchini flower with a cheese stuffing may have been the best one I have ever tasted.  YUM.

Throughout each course, we tasted different organic wines made by BioVio. Each one was lovely. I am having some shipped home right now. 

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More food—meat and more—with more wine suited for this plate.

The food kept coming until we were quite full. And it was time to see their typical wine-tasting location and the story of their business. After several of us bought wine, we called for our ride to the next destination. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone. The people, the food and and wine, were all enchanting. I know I will return once again. You can join me. 

Our afternoon adventure would take us high into the hills to visit a portion of Borgo Verezzi.

Borgo Verezzi is divided into several small hamlets, each distinctly different from each other. Because of the rain, we could only visit one, named Piazza. This hilly beauty offers concerts and plays throughout the summer months—their backdrop is the sea below.

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The stage for performances is set up in front of the scenery above.

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Stage Left

Each narrow street courves or rises as we explore the location.

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Arched flying buttresses hold buildings in place. Age and earthquakes can destroy them without this support.

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This road was a tunnel.

After a few minutes to enjoy an adult beverage and admire the view, we rejoined our driver and headed back toward Laigueglia. We made a short stop to visit one of the remaining walled Roman towns—this one is called Villanova d’Albenga

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The walls of this ancient town still surround it on all sides.

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The ancient well is now a giant flowerpot on the main street of the town.

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Homes inside the walls have been modernized at least up to the 1600s—some of them complete with the popsicle colors you see all along the Italian Riviera.

After a short time exploring, we walked through the Roman arches into the newer town beyond, hopped into our bus and returned for our last night in Laigueglia.

We have so much more to share. More coming soon.

A dopo!

Ciao for now!

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