History and Tradition
In pre-Roman times, the Liguria people inhabited a wide stretch of land spanning from the edge of today’s Tuscany to the French Cote d’Azur. In the following centuries, what began as self-defense measures against northern and Moor invaders via the creation a strong and far reaching fleet, ended up propelling Genoa to become a powerful medieval center that actively participated in the Crusades and founded colonies all around the Mediterranean Sea.
In 1162 Genoa became an independent Repubblica Marinara, or Marine Republic, sharing dominance over the Mediterranean Sea, and often fighting with the three other sea-bound powerhouses of the time, Venice, Amalfi, and Pisa. The commercial and military success of the fleet brought wealth and elevated the political importance of Genoa. It was in this period that the surrounding territory was organized into what is known today as Liguria.
After a long period of struggle following loss of the colonies and the discovery of the Americas, the Republic was annexed to France in 1805 at the hands of a then little known general named Napoleon. In 1814 Liguria become a province of the Kingdom of Sardinia, but soon the fight for the unification of Italy began which Liguria contributed many important leaders such as Giuseppe Garibaldi and Giuseppe Mazzini.
After WWII, Liguria played an important role in the industrialization of Italy, contributing especially through communication and traffic in goods through the ports of Genoa, the biggest in Italy and one of the largest and busiest in all of the Mediterranean.
The traditional regatta that takes place in Genoa every four years, a rotating festival shared among the four ancient republics, celebrates the golden age of the Repubbliche Marinare.
At a first glance, the steep slopes of the Liguria coast does not seem very hospitable to most agriculture, including vines. Yet about one hundred different varieties of grapes are cultivated in this small strip of mountainous land sandwiched between Piedmont and the Mediterranean, bordered by France to the north and Tuscany to the south.
The proximity to two major Italian wine producing regions influences some of the wine production of the Liguria region. In the Riviera di Ponente area or “western Liguria”, the wines are made mostly of a single type of grape, in a fashion similar to the Piedmont tradition, while in eastern Liguria, in the areas of Lunigiana and Cinqueterre, the wines are mostly produced by blending several grape types, as is the tradition in neighboring Tuscany.
While the majority of wines produced in Piedmont and Tuscany are full-bodied red, Liguria specializes and excels in white wines that complement the delicate and zesty local cuisine which features a variety of seafood, mushrooms, aromatic herbs, walnuts, pastas and baked goods.
Given the limited quantity of wine produced, only a few Liguria wines have achieved fame outside this region and are often difficult to find and pricey. The visitor to the region would be well advised to venture off the main roads and taste as many local wines paired with freshly created regional dishes as possible As we already said and would like to state again, the delicate, yet flavorful cuisine of Liguria and its wines complement each other in a very superb and luscious combination of flavors and nuances.