A colleague of mine, journalist Flavio Alagia, is an intrepid traveler. You name a country and, most certainly, he has been there. He also travels a lot around Italy and knows it quite well. When I read on his Facebook timeline that he had published a book “Liguria Low Cost” (in Italian) I asked him to share his knowledge of the beautiful Italian region with my readers.
A holiday in Liguria can be quite costly. What are your money saving tips?
With some planning and foresight, it is possible to have a wonderful time at a reasonable cost in Liguria. Avoiding high season in July and August will save you up to 30% on the cost of accommodation. Avoiding hotels and staying instead in small local B&Bs helps too. Not all of them have webpages but it should not be difficult to find a room without booking: just ask in any bar or restaurant in the village you are visiting. Furthermore, Liguria’s street food is great, so instead of dining out, grab a pizza, focaccia, farinata or fried seafood in a cone (yes!).
What is the best way to get to know the local way of life in Liguria?
The people of Liguria are a sociable folk and every time I travel there, they are glad to share their stories. The guides and trip organizers are usually from old ligurian families, the boat driver is probably from a fishermen family and the trek guide learned all the aspects of the local environment from his farmer grandfather… this is how it is here. So the best way to get to know the place is talking to the locals!
How to visit Cinque Terre without feeling like a tourist?
Feeling like a tourist in Cinque Terre is understandable: I challenge anybody not to stare at its beauty with the mouth open. It is easy to fall into the tourist routine there: see a village, have lunch, shop, have dinner. However, you should not forget that there is a wonderful national park along the coastline with many well-maintained trails. You can save money by buying a Cinque Terre Card Train that includes the use of ecological Park buses, access to all trekking paths, Wi-fi internet connection and unlimited train travel on the Levanto – Cinque Terre – La Spezia line.
What are your favourite off-the-beaten-track destinations in Liguria?
Among the not so terribly famous places I have visited on the Ligurian coast I especially liked Sori, Arenzano, Bordighera. There are many towns and villages inland that are worth a trip. Toirano, for instance, is a great place with interesting caves to discover.
What local dishes would you recommend?
The Ligurian tradition represents the sea and land products. Don’t miss focaccia, in both the Genovese and Recco version, homemade pasta with seafood trenette, trofie, pansoti, cappon magro (a combination of mixed seafood and vegetables). For meat lovers I would definitely suggest trying the Ligurian style rabbit (“coniglio alla ligure”). Make sure you eat in an osteria. In Liguria there are many good family-run osterias that combine a great atmosphere with fantastic simple traditional food.
“Liguria Low Cost” (in Italian) covers main and off-the-beaten-track destinations in the region, transportation, accommodation, food, highlights and activities. For every destination, Flavio suggests where to sleep and eat without breaking the bank. You can buy a hard copy of the book or its Kindle version on Amazon or Rizzoli Libri website.
Photos by: Luigi Alesi/Flickr, Liguria Turismo, Marco Stregatto/Flickr.