- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2005

GENOA, Italy — Genoa is almost as far as you can go north on the Ligurian Sea, part of the Mediterranean. This capital city of the Liguria region is in the middle of the Riviera. Running southwest is the Riviera di Ponente (which means a spot on the horizon where the sun sets), while to the southeast of Genoa is the Riviera di Levante (which means to the east). The oldest road that passed through this area was the Via Aurelia, built by the Romans, which went as far as France.

Liguria begins on the west at the French border near Ventimiglia and arcs north and then south to its borders with the regions of Emilia Romagna and Tuscany. To the north of Liguria lies the region of Piedmont and the Maritime Alps; then the Ligurian Appenines begin, part of the mountain range that runs south through Italy.

The resorts on the Riviera di Ponente begin with Ventimiglia and continue west with San Remo, Alassio, Albegna, Finale Ligure, Savona and then Genoa. The Riviera di Levante is home to some of Italy’s best-known resorts, such as Camogli, Santa Margherita Ligure, Portofino, Rapallo, Levanto, Portovenere and Lerici. The southernmost area also includes the Cinque Terre (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore), which are especially popular with visitors who want to walk the seaside footpaths that connect the five towns.

South of Genoa is the Golfo Paradiso, which is aptly named.

I stayed in the Locanda di Palazzo Cicala, Piazza San Lorenzo, 16, which is on the second floor of the restored Palazzo Cicala, with the cathedral just across the piazza. The location is very convenient. The large rooms, in which bathrooms have been installed, have high ceilings and not only Internet access, but also personal computers. An elevator makes the hotel rooms accessible. Visit http://palazzocicala.hotel-genova.com.

Continental breakfast — with Genoa’s superb focaccia — is served below in Le Cantine Squarciafico, the hotel restaurant.

I Tre Merli, a restaurant and wine bar at Vico Dietro il Coro Della Maddalena 26, has columns that look like the city’s buildings in black slate and white marble. Try the delicious trofie with pasta Genovese at this very popular restaurant.

Trattoria Al Veliero, via Ponte Calvi 10, is an interesting restaurant where the Italian Socialist Party formed in the 19th century.

For Genoa’s famous whole candied fruits, chocolates, jams and torone, one stop is sufficient, at Pietro Romanengo, founded in 1780. The address is via Soziglia 74 (also at via Roma 51). Visit www.romanengo.com.

For fruit tarts that are too beautiful to eat — almost — and delicious chocolates, the Antica Pasticceria Profumo is the answer. It has one window on via Garibaldi, but the entrance is on a side street near the Piazza Fontane Marose.

In Recco, the “little capital” of the Golfo Paradiso south of Genoa, Da o Vittorio, a restaurant and hotel, serves delicious Ligurian dishes, from the focaccia col formaggio to small discs of pasta with designs stamped on them. Fresh local fish are served with olive oil, lemon and pine nuts. The address is via Roma 160, Recco; phone 018-574-029.

Explore the towns inland, where many of the centuries-old crafts are still produced: handwoven velvet, Chiavari chairs, carvings and lace.

Richard Slusser

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