The rich heritage of the northern part of Italy can be seen everywhere in these five regions. Empires rose and fell, trading links were forged and battles were fought over this land. The valleys are so fertile and the hills and mountains so spectacular that it is no surprise to find that many tribes have settled here. Meanwhile, traders from the north passed through these regions on their way farther south, bringing exciting new foodstuffs and recipes with them, and Ligurian ports, such as Genoa, were gateways into Italy for exotic spices, fruits and vegetables. Roman ruins dot the landscape of northern Italy, medieval towns nestle in the hills and beautiful Renaissance architecture embellishes the cities.