A visit to the Italian Riviera, a destination for millions of travelers every year, might not happen for a while because of a pandemic, but you can keep your native region of Liguria a top priority through virtual tours and shows and by sampling some special flavors at home. This is what has to be done until the clouds break and you can travel to Italy again.
Genoa’s Palazzo Reale, or Royal Palace. (Photo by Andia / Universal Image Group via Getty Images)
Universal Image Group via Getty Images
Gallery of the Chapel at the Palazzo Reale. (Photo by DeAgostini / Getty Images)
De Agostini via Getty Images
1. Visit the dramatically beautiful Palazzo Reale in the capital of Liguria, Genoa, online. The Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities offers a beautiful 360 degree tour, developed by ItalyArt, this luxurious palace, home to the Savoy royal family in the 1800s. There are majestic mainstays such as dance halls, king rooms, queens and thrones, and what was very popular at the time, the “mirror hall” inspired by the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles. Significant works of art, including the works of Anton van Dyck and Tintoretto, are located between luxury rooms, where you will find large frescoes with mythological motifs, elaborate stuccoworks and gilded gold and intricately carved antique furniture. To get a close look at the paintings, visit the Palazzo Reale website.
Vernazza, one of the cities of Cinque Terre. (Photo by Engelke / ullstein bild via Getty Images)
ullstein bild via Getty Images
2. Take a virtual tour of Cinque Terre. If you have ever been in one of these beautiful cities in peak season, the opportunity to see it without crowds of tourists can help compensate for not being there. Consorzio Turistico Cinque Terre has four videos, ranging from one to 27 minutes, and a number of virtual tours that will remind you of what you want to see again. The Rick Steves program at Cinque Terre is a classic.
Pansotti. (Photo by Michele Bella / REDA & CO / Universal Image Group via Getty Images)
REDA & CO / Universal Image Group via Getty Images
3. Make pansotti. The pesto and pasta served with it are widely known by visitors to the Italian Riviera, but pansotti (also pansoti) is another delicious, or first, primo to try. Depending on who makes it, pansotti can look like ravioli or tortellini, and is filled with a mixture of wild herbs found in the region (called preboggion) and local cheeses like quagliata, and served with walnut sauce. Grandma Pasta has a video to show you how to make it. For those who want to make dishes far from Liguria, Great Italian Chefs have recipes using chard, spinach, and Ricotta.
Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa. (Photo by Massimo Piacentino / REDA & CO / Universal Image Group via Getty … [+] Images)
Universal Image Group via Getty Images
4. Listen to live performances from the Genoa opera house. As part of the #iorestoacasa initiative (I live at home), Teatro Carlo Felice, the city’s cultural center that was rebuilt after World War II and designed by renowned Italian architect Aldo Rossi, drew a number of important operas in April and May. Upcoming are Tosca Giacomo Puccini (April 28), Lucia at Lammermoor (May 5) Donizetti and Georges Bizet’s Carmen (May 19). The online program starts at 20:00 CEST. For schedule, click here.
5. Know the cities in Golfo Paradiso. Considering that the Cinque Terre destination fills up full in summer, you should get acquainted with the beautiful towns and villages of Golfo Paradiso (a little over an hour from the northernmost Cinque Terre paradise, Monterosso al Mare) before your next trip to Liguria. While busy in warm weather – many Genovese flee to this beach area on weekends – the percentage of visitors-to-locals is far less. Golfo Paradiso reaches approximately from Bogliasco, on the border with Genoa, to the beautiful city of Camogli and near San Fruttuoso with its famous medieval monastery and a small beach that features unbelievably beautiful sea views.
6. Have a day at the beach, long distance. Skyline Webcam offers a number of live cameras on the Ligurian coast, where you can enjoy views of the coast and beaches in Genoa, Camogli, Sestri Levante, and other places along the eastern and western parts of the Italian Riviera.
The famous Focaccia di Recco.
7. Bake focaccia in Recco. Liguria’s choice of bread is focaccia, and a version made in the seaside town of Recco, not far from Genoa, and rightly called focaccia di Recco, coveted by culinary lovers from all over the world. Here you will find salted sandwiches enriched with strachino cheese, a combo designed by Manuelina Capurro, who served it at her village tavern in the late 19th century. San Pelligrino has a recipe for making focaccia at home.
8. Try some Liguria sweets. Pandolce, Liguria’s answer to panettone and available throughout the year, is probably the most famous bakery product in the region. But there are other sweets that are worth tasting, such as baci di Alassio, or the kiss of Alassio (Alassio is a popular seaside resort on the Riviera di Ponente, west of the Italian Riviera). Made in the early 19th century by Rinaldo Balzola, chef for the Italian royal family, this soft meringue hazelnut cake has rich chocolate. La Cucina Italina has a recipe for them.
The Mimosa cake, a fairly new torta (for Italy) is the work of a chef, Adelmo Renzi, who made it for competition in San Remo in the early 1960s. This cake has a topping that is reminiscent of Mimosa Bloom, hence its name; usually served on International Women’s Day (March 8), because flowers have long been associated with celebrations. Here is the food historian Francine Segan’s recipe for cakes at Epicurious.
Lemon in a shop in Portovenere near Cinque Terre.
Bonus: Enjoy a glass of limoncino. This lemon drink, a popular after-dinner drink in Liguria, is similar to the limoncello that you will find along the Amalfi Coast, although there are some variations in how it is made. (As you might expect, each type depends on locally grown lemons.) Limoncello is generally easier to obtain at A. Wine.com offers a number of varieties, including CapriNatura, which have achieved high grades from Wine Enthusiast. (Wine.com can sell liquor in New York, New Jersey, California and Florida.)