Known as the Italian riviera, Liguria is bordered to the south by the sea and the mountains to the north which influences it’s cuisine. Seafood and fish are used extensively, with sardines, swordfish, tuna, white bream, sea bass and anchovies featuring in many dishes. A typical fish soup is “ciuppin” which is served in two bowls, one for the broth and the other filled with fish, prawns and octopus fresh from the sea. Most of the fish and sea foods are cooked very simply using only oil, parsley and white wine. Liguria is also well known for it’s wonderful pesto, as basil grows here in profusion and is mixed with pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese and the Region’s own olive oil” Riviera Ligure“, made from olives grown from trees that cling to hills which drop down to the sea. Pesto is used to enhance many of the regional dishes and takes the place of the tomato based sauces of other regions. Chick-peas and chestnuts are used to make flour which is used to make some of the local breads such as “farinata” (a flat chick-pea flour bread). The mountains produce foods such as mushrooms, truffles and chestnuts, also small fruits and berries, and wild game. Rabbit and veal are popular meats of this region rabbit stew “Coniglio in Umbido” and rolls of veal “Tomaxelle” will be popular dishes found on the menu.”Trofie” will accompany Ligurian dishes or served with pesto become a meal on their own, they are gnocchi made by hand and twisted to form a spiral. Ligurian dishes will include vegetables and herbs, especially marjoram.

There is not much in the way of flat lands for the growing of crops and most of that which grows in Liguria, clings to the hillsides, this includes corn, herbs, garlic, chickpeas, artichokes, onions, zucchini and potatoes.Pesto sauces are used widely here as the basil and pine nuts used to make the sauce grow readily here. The speciality bread Focaccia comes from Liguria and is a bread that should be eaten fresh as it does not keep well, it can be eaten plain and used for dipping into the fragrant olive oil or rich tomato-based sauces, but it can also be flavoured with some of the many herbs which grow in Liguria, serve it empty – Vuota – as an accompaniment or filled – Farcite – filled or topped with cheese, ham, salami or onions. Focaccia is well known world-wide but there is an equally delicious but lesser known speciality originating from La Spezia and that is Farinata, made from chick-pea flour, olive oil and water and cooked in a very hot oven, again this can be eaten simply alone or stuffed.

There are not many Ligurian desserts but they do make a sweet bread “Pandolce” with candied fruits and nuts and sweet pizzas with toppping that include Candied fruits, walnuts and chestnuts.

List of Italian DOC wines of Liguria

  • Cinque Terre
    Cinque Terre Sciacchetrà produced in the province of La Spezia
    Colli di Luni an inter-regional DOC produced in the provinces of La Spezia (Liguria) and of Massa-Carrara (Toscana)
    Colline di Levanto produced in the province of La Spezia
    Golfo del Tigullio produced in the province of Genova
    Riviera Ligure di Ponente
    Rossese di Dolceacqua
    Val Polcevera produced in the province of Genova
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