Paula Farquharson

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Yachting: Article

Italian Ports Along the Ligurian Coastline

Sailing 'The Big Blue' reveals the diversity of Northern Italy's natural beauty

Market
It was difficult to tear me away from my favourite past time - browsing. But the wonderful thing was being able to walk away laden down with lots of goodies to nibble on the yacht later. All the local food produced in the region is sold here at half the price and double the quality; wine, olives, olive oil, focaccia bread, formaggio (cheese), grissini (thin bread sticks) and the list goes on. My favourite snack of “fast food” Italian style was a torta verde – a pie filled with delicious green vegetables and rice mixed with olive oil – the perfect healthy tummy filler until dinner on the yacht later. My one consolation on leaving the market here was that these specialities are available all along the Ligurian coast. You can visit the colourful market in San Remo at Piazza Eroi Sanremesi, not far from San Siro Cathedral on Tuesdays and Saturdays morning.
    Afterwards we visited the ancient heart of San Remo, La Pigna, which dates back to the year 1000 and is a hive of well-preserved network of steep and winding medieval streets with arches, clinging to the hill so wear comfortable shoes.

Day and Night Life
You won’t be bored in San Remo – the town boasts film festivals, theatrical and opera seasons, fashion shows, gala evenings, sports events, sailing, rowing regattas and motor boating races, and international tennis and golf tournaments and of course its famous car rally in October, the San Remo Image Jazz Festival, the San Remo Blues Festival, and last but not least the star studded Italian Song Festival. Not to mention football matches at the stadium – the Italians love their football and if they win the streets will be a noisy blur of euphoric horn hocking fanatics.

Culture
For some outdoor light culture, which really allowed us to soak up the ambiance of San Remo we strolled along Corso degli Inglesi peeking through gates and wrought iron railings that surround the magnificent gardens of these elegant nineteenth and twentieth centuries villas. Villa Nobel is a Moorish-style building and was home to the famous Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel who established the Nobel prizes. Nowadays the villa thrives with prestigious cultural events and it houses a permanent museum.


SIDEBAR: Mediterranean Food

The Mediterranean diet is both a real philosophy of life and a healthy diet. The restaurants and yachts crews make generous use of the delicious but simple ingredients like olives and citrus fruits indigenous to the region thanks to the climate. Aperitivo of gin martinis or a glass of local vino bianco and a bowl of locally grown olives to nibble on is de rigeur in Italy usually from 5-7pm. Olive oil combined with nearly everything as far as I could tell creates an exotic explosion of taste at meal time. Olive oil, pasta, fruit, vegetables, fish, white and red meat, legumes, and wine are the basis of the Mediterranean diet. Liguria produces extra virgin olive oil that bears the certification of origine protetta (i.e., protected origin). Extra virgin olive oil that is produced in Western Liguria is characterised by a sweet flavour; a fruity aroma with hints of almond and apple and a mild acid taste.

Typical Dishes
Stuffed vegetables, salads (e.g. the Cundiùn), and home-made pasta (e.g., ravioli and trofie) with pesto sauce. Pesto is a tasty sauce made up of basil, pine-kernels, grated cheese, and olive oil. For main courses, you can find rabbit with Vermentino, dried cod brand cujun, torta verde (rice and vegetables cooked in a thin sheet of pastry), or pizzas - such as the famous Sardenaira with tomatoes, anchovies, Taggiasca olives, and extra virgin olive oil.


Following in the Steps of Columbus

Time to up anchor and sail to our next destination - Genoa. We were hoping to see whales as the International Whale Sanctuary covers the huge area from San Remo to Tuscany. We did spot some dolphins – no surprise as “The Med” is inhabited by one of the highest concentrations of whales and dolphins, which are protected by RIMMO a reserve created by Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Bridigitte Bardot.
   
A smooth sail took us to Genoa. Known as the door of the Mediterranean, this city’s famous son Christopher Columbus set sail to discover America from that very door. You can visit the house and museum where he was born in Borga Lanaioli beside the medieval city gate, Porta Soprana.
   
If we had arrived by night we would have been guided by La Laterna, the symbol of Genoa and the yellow light that has directed seamen since 1543. However by day we did get to see the extensive medieval walls that embrace the city further up the hills.
   
This commercial port is huge and the best to see it is to go up the Bigo for an incredible panoramic view. In fact Genoa has three ports and it is Marina Porto Antico, mere steps away from the town centre, where we moored. For our dinners on board we took advantage of locally caught fish cooked with exotic spices from the market arcades and listened to the quiet hum of the city in the distance.  
   
Genoa lies on a small portion of land between the sea and the mountains and so part of the city appears nearly vertical! It’s a town rich in architectural and cultural contrasts and no wonder with a history dating back more than a thousand years. It boasts the most ancient historical centre in Europe and boy did we lap up those piazzas, fountains and wide corso streets.
   
By dinner time we were tired out from galleries and palaces so we couldn’t resist relaxing on board and indulging in a simple dish of spaghetti and the local pesto sauce. The famous pesto originates from Genoa and its simple ingredients of olive oil, pine nuts, basil and parmesan cheese belie its delicious taste. Just make sure the pasta is al dente or else your Italian guests may dine elsewhere.
   
The next morning we ate breakfast Italian style dipping cornetti into our milk and sipped cappuccinos and contemplated where to sail to next – onto Portofino the luxuriously expensive refuge for the jet set or back west to see the old town at Ventimiglia for a peak at the market...
   
Our choice was wide open and difficult to make but we knew we wouldn’t be disappointed.


More Stories By Paula Farquharson

Paula Farquharson is an editor of The Riviera Times newspaper. Originally
from Ireland, she worked in New York and is now based in Nice, France,
where she learned to sail.

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