Liguria in north-west Italy is famous for its lovely coastline, and is known as the Italian Riviera. As one of the country’s smallest regions, it stretches in a narrow strip along the coast from France. Mountains separate it from Piedmont to the north, Emilia-Romagna to the east and Tuscany to the south. Liguria is divided into four provinces: Genova, the regional capital and only major city; Imperia; La Spezia and Savona.
The five little fishing villages of the Cinque Terre - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - as well as the stylish towns of Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure, are on the eastern coast, known as the Riviera di Levante. The western coast, the Riviera di Ponente, is where you will find Sanremo - Italy’s own gambling capital - a sun-dappled Mediterranean resort with a casino, a clutch of ostentatious villas and plenty of Riviera-style grandeur. Known colloquially as the City of Flowers for its famous summer blooms, in the 19th century the city became a magnet for regal European exiles, such as Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, who much favoured the balmy winters. There is even an onion-domed Russian Orthodox church, reminiscent of St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, sitting rather bizarrely on the seafront.