Nestled in the top of Italy lies a colorful and bustling coast. Genoa sits at the top of the boot, and as you travel down the coast you hit Portofino and Cinque Terre. This hour-ish long stretch of coast is probably my favorite place in the world. In. The. World. Here’s everything I ate and drank in the region!
This fall my parents hopped over the pond to visit us here in Europe. We spent time driving around Belgium and Holland and even the small country of Luxemburg, but the cherry on top of the trip? Italy!!
Specifically, my favorite part of Italy…the Ligurian region, home to La Spezia, Genoa, and the Cinque Terre! Here’s everything we ate and drank 😛
Obviously, the pizza. I had a stretch while in Italy where I ate pizza in some form 5 days in a row, and it may well have been the best 5 days of my life (kidding) (sort of).
I made a point to try a new pizza every time (rather than sticking to my tried and true quattro formaggi). Some of my favorites were topped with porcini mushrooms, mascarpone, or gorgonzola!
And the farmer’s markets
One of my favorite ways to spend a morning in Italy is at the farmer’s markets! Most towns will have an open air market (these photos are from the one in La Spezia).
Walk around and take it all in and maybe even buy a bag of juicy ripe tomatoes!
And we can’t forget about the gelato
My goal this trip was to try the weirdest sounding gelato flavors, and those flavors did not disappoint. There was olive oil, ricotta, almond spice, and of course stracciatella.
Pro-tip: Want gelato that’s actually good (not just for tourists)? Avoid gelaterias that have heaping piles of colorful gelato, which indicates the “gelato” is full of stabilizers and color enhancers. The gelato should be flat and all in pan, and it’s best if the gelatos are covered with a lid.
And of course, pasta!
We spent a few days outside of Liguria in the city of Lucca. While there, we did a cooking class with Chef Paolo Monti, where we learned to make all sorts of pastas and sauces! They don’t call me Sarah the Gnocchi Master for nothing…(okay maybe they don’t call me that).
Be sure to also try trofie pasta, which is distinct to Liguria, along with Pesto Genovese, which originates in Genoa!
Bruschetta for days
For the days when we ate a bit too much throughout the day, bruschetta was the dinner of choice. My favorite was a gorgonzola and honey bruschetta, though our homemade versions were a close runner up.
Bruschetta makes an ultra-affordable snack or meal if you just want to eat in for a night. Pick up some extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper at the grocery (though most rental apartments have all of this), and some fresh tomatoes, bread, and cheese at the market. Devour (with wine, obviously).
Bits and bobs
We also explored some local delis, which have ready made meals that they heat up and serve to you (I had the beans and rice below). And fried zucchini blossoms! My newfound love.
Activities that weren’t food
But of course, we did a few things that weren’t centered around engulfing as much Italian food as possible. My favorites were:
- Taking a boat ride to each town in the Cinque Terre (to figure out which ones we wanted to hike to)
- Hiking the Cinque Terre
- Taking a day trip to Florence (complete with a free walking tour)
- Walking around the walled-in city of Lucca
- Walking on top of the wall by the leaning tower of Pisa
And that’s how you eat your way through the Cinque Terre, La Spezia, and the Ligurian region of Italy!
If you’ve visited before, what are your favorite foods and treats?