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Pesto alla Genovese

Pesto - Pesto Sauce
Pesto - Linguine with PestoPesto - IngredientsPesto - Handmade Pesto Sauce

The Pesto Genovese is probably one of the most famous Italian sauces!

The word pesto means literally to crush, from the Italian pestare. The name reflect the way pesto sauce is traditionally made: all the ingredients are in fact ground together in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle. 

The recipe derived form the roman Moretum, a sauce very popular at the time. However among the ingredients of the original recipe there were mixed herbs instead of the basil used today. The reason was that basil wasn’t yet cultivated in Europe. When it was imported from India many farmers started to grow it especially in the Liguria region.

When the Ligurian began to cultivated the basil they adapted the roman recipe and create the today world famous pesto alla genovese. They combined basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano and/or Pecorino cheese and EVOO.

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Who still follow the original recipe put in the marble mortar first pine nuts and garlic, that are ground with a circular motion until they became a paste, then the basil is added with a pinch of sea salt; when the mixture become smooth again the cheeses and EVOO are added.

However during the centuries every genovese family have developed its own pesto recipe!

Many add string beans and potatoes cooked together with the pasta.

The Pesto Genovese is traditionally used on trofie or linguine.

Farinata di Ceci

Farinata di Ceci
Farinata di Ceci - Street FoodOlive OilFarinata di ceci - Chickpea

The Farinata di ceci is a kind of unleavened very thin cake made with chickpea flour.

The original recipe come from Genova; however during the centuries it became so famous among the populations that many other Italian and French regions adopted it!

The word farinata in Italian means made of flour. It is a very simple dish yet very tasty and nutritious.

In order to make the farinata and stay true to the original recipe it is necessary to add water and EVOO to the chickpea flour and stir until the mixture become homogeneous. Then the farinata is cooked into an open oven. At the end it is possible to season the dish with sea salt, black pepper and/or rosemary. When ready it is cut into triangular shapes and served without any additional toppings or dippings. Usually you will find the farinata in bakeries and pizzerias all around town.

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In Genova it is possible to taste few variations of the original recipe. Very popular since the beginning is the one with whitebait; unfortunately today due to strict fishing regulations it is not very simple to find it! However you can easily enjoy the farinata with added onions or artichokes!

Caruggi – Genoa

Genoa - Caruggi
Genoa - Caruggi - StreetGenoa - Caruggi - Salita Superiore San RocchinoGenoa - Caruggi - Roofs

Caruggi is the popular name given to the characteristic small streets of Genoa. The word means alley, many roads in the old city are called Vico from Vicoli (lane).

Most of the caruggi names derive from the activity that was practiced in the area. Typically the name are related to artisanal activities like Via Orefici (Goldsmiths Street) and Piazza di Pellicceria (Furriery Square). Today a lot have changed but the caruggi still attract many tourists thanks to the numerous little shops (botteghe) that still offer artisanal products.

It is believed that the old Genoa was built with this little alleys in order to protect itself against the pirates’ attacks; it was easier to defend the city. Eventually Genoa was fortified too.

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The most famous Genoa’s Caruggio is called Via di Pre’.

Visitors can’t lose the opportunity to stroll around in this unique area; walking and getting lost in these characteristic alleyways is an inimitable experience. It seems that the time stopped long ago thanks to the authentic little stores and workshops. Every time that a caruggio turns is hard to know what you will find around the corner!



Corniglia - Cinque terre - view

Unlike the other towns in the Cinque Terre, Corniglia is not on the coast but rather on top of a cliff overlooking the sea, its position granting it a stunning view of the area. Around are vineyards and natural terraces that provide the town with wine and grain. To reach Corniglia, visitors can take a bus from the train station or brave the Lardarina, a brick staircase with nearly 400 steps.

Things to see

The first settlements of Corniglia date back to the Roman Age, the village expanding during the Middle Ages until it became what we see today. Narrow streets are lined with colorful houses, and remnants of Genovese fortifications that once protected the town from pirate raids can still be seen, most notably the tower near Piazza Fosso. Some other particular sights in Corniglia include the Church of San Pietro, built in the 14th century in the Gothic style but its interior decorated in the Baroque style. From the terrace of Santa Maria, it is possible to view the Marina di Corniglia, a little naturally occurring gulf filled with turquoise waters.

Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso - Cinque Terre - panorama

Monterosso is the largest of the five Cinque Terre towns; it was erected right in the center of a gulf of the La Spezia coastline. It is the only village in the Cinque Terre to have a large sand beach, which locals and tourists alike take full advantage of during the summer months.

The towns is famous for its beautiful lemon and olive trees and its white wines!

It is divided into two sections: the old town and the new town. The old town is the original settlement, dating as far back as the 1st century. This part boasts ancient architecture such as the Torre Aurora, a Genovese castle that protected the coast from pirate raids, and the Church of San Giovanni Battista, built in the 13th century in the Gothic style and particular for its black and white striped façade. The two parts are divided by a small tunnel.

Famous is also the Convent of Monterosso that it is possible to admire from many different points of the Cinque Terre area.

Things to see

In 1910, an impressive statue of Neptune was constructed on the western end of the beach out of cement and iron. This statue used to hold up a shell-shaped terrace but much of it was lost during bombings in World War II.

For centuries it was possible to reach Monterosso only by sea or mule paths. The situation changed in 1870 when the newly born Italian government decided to built a railroad line. Today the mule paths are perfect for hiking: the views that they offer are breathtaking!


Vernazza - Cinque Terre - boats
Vernazza - Cinque Terre - view

Located along the coast of La Spezia is the gorgeous Vernazza, one of the five Cinque Terre towns.

This tiny fortified fishing village dates as far back as the 1st century A.D.. Vernazza was used as a naval base tasked with protecting the coast from pirate attacks, taking advantage of the natural moor created by the cliff arching into the sea.

The name Vernazza derived from a local grape variety: the Vernaccia.

Like the other towns in the Cinque Terre area, Vernazza experienced a sharp economic decline between the 17th and the 19th century. However thanks to the construction of the Genova–La Spezia rail line the town isolation ended and it started to prosper again. Vernazza returned to fishing, wine and olive oil making as main industries, remaining much the same as it has been all these centuries. It has no cars and it is still considered among the truest fisherman villages of the Riviera.

in 1997 the UNESCO named the Cinque Terre a World Heritage Site; a couple of years later the National Park of the Cinque Terre was created.

Things to see

Among the historical sights to see is the gorgeous Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia, a 13th century Romanesque church near the edge of the water. It is worth a visit also the Doria Castle, built in the 15th century as a lookout tower to warn and protect the village from approaching pirates. It goes without saying that the natural sights are just as, if not more, breathtaking than the colorful town itself.

Cinque Terre

Manarola - Cinque Terre - view
Vernazza - Cinque Terre - viewVernazza - Cinque Terre - boatsManarola - Cinque Terre - housesRiomaggiore - Cinque Terre - sea viewCorniglia - Cinque terre - viewRiomaggiore - Cinque Terre - sea

A large area located on the Italian Riviera in Liguria, the Cinque Terre spreads over lush hills and the turquoise coast, and encompasses the villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. The land, coast and villages are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

The only ways to reach or explore Cinque Terre is by way of trains, ferries and hiking trails. Part of the appeal of the area is its relatively untouched and urbanization-free appearance, the villages having retained their rural charm throughout the centuries.

Things to see

Monterosso and Vernazza are the oldest villages, having been built during the 11th century. The others appeared later due to strong influences from the Republic of Genoa. These villages were relatively small, relying on fishing as their main industry, then later wine. During the 16th century, several forts and towers were built or renovated to defend against Turkish raids, a number of these structures still standing today.

The Cinque Terre area experienced a sharp decline during the 17th century, in part due to the villages’ isolation from the rest of the country. This did not change until the mid-1900s, when tourism developed and grew; today, the Cinque Terre National Park is one of the most popular attractions in Northern Italy, capitalizing on ecotourism and food & wine tourism