A ravishing riviera long overlooked by tourists and all the more glorious for it: Why HARRIET SIME has been dreaming of Liguria in Italy during lockdown
- The Daily Mail’s Harriet Sime recalls a trip to Liguria, north-west Italy, which is often overlooked by tourists
- She remembers enjoying plates of seafood linguine on the seafront and hitting the city’s famous casino
- Other fond memories include spending a day on ‘one of the prettiest cycle tracks in Europe’
With a knowing smile, the waitress asks in broken English: ‘One more?’ We come to this bar, perched on a cliff edge, every afternoon, so she knows the answer.
Out come our Aperol cocktails with yet more appetisers. This time it’s purple Taggiasca olives and thick slabs of torte verde, a local pie of cheese, eggs and greens baked in a thin olive-oil crust and served for breakfast, lunch or as an afternoon snack.
Liguria, in north-west Italy, has long been overlooked by British tourists in favour of its glitzy neighbours; France’s glamorous Cote d’Azur to the west, and the pastel-coloured, hilltop towns of Cinque Terre to the east.
Colourful: The Daily Mail’s Harriet Sime remembers heading to Sanremo (pictured) for plates of seafood linguine
And what a blessing that is. We seldom hear English accents and are forced to use our terrible Italian everywhere we go.
We’ve spent the day on a 15-mile cycle track that ribbons along an old coastal railway line. It’s one of the prettiest tracks in Europe, sandwiched between the glittering Med and hedges bursting with electric-pink bougainvilleas.
We stop for dips along the way; first climbing down a cluster of jagged rocks before diving off, then, an hour later, scrambling over a tiny pebbled beach and gracelessly throwing ourselves in the water, leaving our bikes in some shrubs near by.
Back on the track, we pass women wearing floaty dresses and ruby lipstick, and leathery-skinned old men cycling slowly next to their tiny dogs.
Light, dark, light, dark; the tunnels come frequently, providing us with brief respite from the sun. The Alps tumble down to the sea here, protecting this stretch of coast from chilly northern air and creating one of Italy’s most temperate spots.
We are based in the hilltop village of Castellaro, close to its main square, which is best experienced in the morning when men gesticulate over the day’s first espressos and elderly women gossip on benches shaded by lemon trees.
Poker face: Harriet said visiting the city’s famous – and very grand – casino always make her feel glamorous
Tonight, we’ll enjoy fried courgette flowers on the terrace before heading to Sanremo for plates of seafood linguine on the seafront. Later, we’ll hit the city’s famous casino, which always makes us feel so glamorous.
These evenings finish with ice cream, sticky hands and a stroll along the palm tree-lined marina to ogle the perma-tanned yacht guests sipping champagne while ordering around weary-looking staff.
Our days ahead will look much the same. Perfetto.