What lies between the famous Cinque Terre and the French Riviera? What is worth discovering in this pocket of land flanked by sea and mountains, at the crossroads of Italy and France? Benvenuti (welcome in Italian) to Liguria!
It took the Romans quite a while to defeat the local Ligurians in the second century BC but here they stand and offer at least three different versions of lifestyle that we are going to discover on this off-the-main-roads tour designed with local Tour Leader Andrea Marchesini.
The Ligurian coast is a striking landscape of cliffs, beaches, lively towns, and exclusive resorts from Cinque Terre to the Palms & Flowers Riviera and the close relative Côte D’Azur.
The hills offer a never-ending list of “the prettiest hamlets of Italy” with a rich heritage of simple, practical, and often economically-constrained traditions that lead to an incredible variety of food and lodging options.The region also boasts the mountains dividing Piedmont and France, brother and sister, often accomplices and sometimes enemies, now focused on re-establishing traditional and economical relationships.
Ligurian recipes are an exquisite mix of mountains and sea. Visits to small local producers allow us special and intimate opportunities to meet the people behind our food. As we taste the regional delicacies and grapes, we learn from the locals who have lived here for generations and are proud of their cuisine and unique culture.
Agriturismi (usually a family-run “farm stay” combining agriculture and tourism), local cheese, gelato, wine makers, vegetables, fruit, olive oil, and the culture of Slow Food will be highlighted on these unique journeys through small villages and tranquil countryside.
What are you waiting for? Ti aspettiamo! (We are waiting for you!) A presto! (See you soon!)
CYCLING TOUR IN LIGURIA
Minimum of 6 participants, maximum of 16, with a maximum guide-to-guest ratio of 1 to 8
DATES (7 days)
April 18-24, 2020 | October 19-25, 2020
For more info, dates and availability please contact us.
Per person in double occupancy: from $3,790 to $4,190
(this tour will feature elegant 3- or 4-star hotels and tour price will vary depending on group size)
Single Supplement: $690
In addition, we pledge to donate more than 1% of your trip price to food literacy and environmental non profit organizations
- Exposure to local culture and history with native, bilingual, experienced Tour Leaders
- Tastings of regional Slow Food Presidia and visits to local wine, cookies, focaccia and olive oil makers
- Experience the authentic Mediterranean Diet through local traditional cuisine featuring fresh and seasonal ingredients and learn more about local recipes
- Enjoy some of the best whites of the regions such as Pigato and Vermentino and the red wines of Ormeasco and Rossese
- Elegant and traditional accommodation in hand-selected 3- and 4-star hotels
- Strolls through must-see classic Western Ligurian towns such as Alassio, Laigueglia, Imperia and Sanremo, and the small villages of Cervo, Bussana Vecchia, Parasio and Dolcedo
- Exhilarating rides and opportunities to improve your cycling skills with your Tour Leaders
- Traditional, local recipes to bring home with you!
A magical land lies tucked between the Tuscan Coast and the French Riviera, flanked by sea on the south and mountains on the north, sitting at the crossroads of Italy and France… Benvenuti (Welcome) to Liguria!
Also called the Italian Riviera, Liguria is divided into two parts with its center point at Genova.The eastern half, extending to the Tuscan border, is the Riviera di Levante or coast of the rising sun. The western half, extending to the French border is called the Riviera di Ponente or coast of the setting sun, which is the area that we’ll visit on our bicycles.
If you prefer to arrive the day before please let us know and we will help you organize your pre night at the same hotel used on tour, and early transfer from Genova airport at additional price. This is recommended just to allow you more time to settle in and get ready for the tour.
Cycling Route Info on Day 1: Main Route: 17mi/1150ft of elevation gain
Fly to Genova Airport and join us for a 1-hour group transfer to our accommodation for the next three nights in Alassio. Check in and relax before meeting your guide for a light lunch and introduction to the tour. Later, we enjoy a warm up ride inland and start our exploration of the Western Liguria.
Much-sought-after in summer for its gorgeous long beach, sun-kissed cobblestones and café-filled promenades, fabled Alassio is probably best known for its baci di Alassio. Called “kisses” (baci), these tasty round sandwich cookies with a chocolate middle are a far cry from Hershey’s. You’ll be hard-pressed to have just one.
Cycling Route Info on Day 2: Main Route 37mi/2880ft | Extra loop adds: 14mi/1300ft
Warm up by the sea on a coastal road and stop in Laigueglia for a great photo op before we tackle the first climb inland. This lovely sea town has been named one of “the most beautiful villages in Italy” (i borghi più belli d’Italia, a designation established in 2001 with the aim of preserving and maintaining villages of quality heritage) that we’ll have more time to explore tomorrow night before your dinner on own.
Other highlights today feature the village of Villanova D’Albenga, a storybook village typified by its stone clock tower. The area is famous for artichokes in winter and the Slow Food Presidio of purple asparagus in the spring.
After your ride enjoy more time in the elegant Alassio exploring the alleys through town locally called “budello” or take a breezy walk by the sea before our dinner together in a local restaurant.
Cycling Route Info on Day 3: Main Route 36mi/2500ft | Extra loop adds: 9mi/1200ft
We leave the coast again heading inland and stop at Cooperativa Olivicola Arnasco, an association founded in 1984 to rescue the local olive oil industry and slow the migration of farmers out of the area. The museum here displays traditional tools once used for cultivation, harvesting and milling. We’ll also learn about the local dry-stack stone walls to make hills available for agriculture.
Today we enjoy a picnic lunch followed by a visit to a multi-generational family owned biodynamic vineyard and winery in Bastia d’Albenga. We meet the family and hear their stories on wine and local production of aromatic herbs over a delicious tasting.
Return to the hotel for relaxation or for a walk in town or on the beach. As the sun sets join us for a tasting and visit at a producer of focaccia (an oven-baked flat bread, usually thicker than pizza)
Cycling Route Info on Day 4: Main Route 30mi/1950ft | Extra loop adds: 10mi/1000ft
After three nights in Alassio, we head west along the sea to reach the area of Imperia, notable for its Porto Maurizio, originally a Roman settlement. Now another example of quintessential Ligurian coastal life, Imperia came into existence when Mussolini “made” it in 1923, combining Porto Maurizio, nearby Oneglia, and some inland villages.
Another highlight today includes a mid-morning stop in the picture-perfect town of Cervo. Perched above Diano Marina its sun-splashed, multi-terraced main piazza is unforgettable and like Laigueglia this village has been named one of “the most beautiful villages in Italy.” Enjoy a coffee and quick stroll here before going back towards the sea for an optional scond stop at a popular local bike shop.
Lunch today will be after a visit to the Museum of Olive Oil in Imperia. This fascinating museum sponsored by the Carli Family and its brand gives the full picture and history of olive cultivation and oil-making in the region.
Continue riding to reach the hotel by the sea. Before dinner, we enjoy a pesto-making demonstration, pesto being a signature staple of Ligurian cuisine. This area is also famous for the Slow Food Presidio of Fagioli di Badalucco, Conio e Pigna (white beans), which we will surely taste on at least one menu
Cycling Route Info on Day 5: Main Route 30mi/3050ft | Extra loop adds: 5mi/750ft
Back on our bikes, we make a first stop in Dolcedo, another storybook village with a stream running through it, flanked by rows of colorful houses. After a coffee, we make a loop ride from here.
Today we enjoy another picnic lunch after a visit to the local olive oil mill. Dolcedo first appeared in the early Middle Ages, populated by migrants from the coast. By the twelfth century, olives were the mainstay of the area.
Later in the afternoon join us for a quick transfer to Parasio, home to the old town of Porto Maurizio where we can explore its maze of narrow streets and alleys, and vast views over the sea. Tonight dinner is on your own. Please ask us for suggestions!
Cycling Route Info on Day 6: Main Route 29mi/2800ft | Extra loop to adds: 12mi/770ft
First stop today is the town of Cipressa and then Poggio, a great opportunity to pedal on some of the famous last climbs of Milano-Sanremo race. Particularly noteworthy is the Capo Nero tunnel featuring a museum to the road race depicted along the tunnel ceiling on a smooth brand-new bike path.
Check in at your hotel in Sanremo and start the exploration of this charming town or add an extra loop to Bussana Vecchia. After an earthquake in 1887 this village was abandoned and then slowly repopulated since the middle of the past century when a community of artists chose this quiet place as their preferred spot for their creations.
Sanremo is known around the world for its international music festival and song-writing contest. Sometimes called the City of Flowers, it is a jewel in the Ponente crown that we’ll visit and enjoy on our last dinner to celebrate our journey in Liguria.
After breakfast at 8:30am catch our 1.5-hour group transfer to Genova airport, or feel free to extend your stay in the area.
- 6 nights of accommodation in 3- and mostly 4-star hotels
- 6 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 4 dinners
- Explore the towns of Alassio, Laigueglia, Sanremo, and the small villages of Cervo, Bussana Vecchia, Parasio and Dolcedo
- Bike rental (see more info here) and Garmin Touring Edge unit (if you have one, bring yours and we’ll upload the routes onto your unit)
- 1 visit and tasting to an olive oil maker and 1 visit and tasting to a wine maker
- 1 visit and tasting to cookies and focaccia makers
- 1 pesto sauce cooking demonstration
- 1 visit to an olive oil museum and 1 visit to a dry stack stone wall
- Comfortable transportation and assistance by 9-seat van for all travel on tour as cited in the itinerary
- Refreshments, snacks, fruits and other local delicacies during our rides
- Two bilingual, professional Tour Leaders (one Ligurian native!)
- One group transfer to/from Genova airport at the beginning and at the end of tour
- Local taxes and gratuities for luggage porters and restaurant servers during tour
- 2 lunches and 2 dinners on your own
- Alcoholic beverages at group dinners (including wine, beer and spirits)
- Round-trip airfare and expenses to/from the tour
- Any pre- or post- night transfers or accommodation
- Trip cancellation, baggage loss or travel delay insurance (this optional coverage is highly recommended and is not provided by Food.Stories.Travel.)
- Gratuities for your Tour Leaders
- Personal expenses, such as, but not limited to, phone calls, laundry, emails, snacks, gifts
Cristiano Bonino has organized and led tours for North Americans all over Italy for more than thirteen years. Currently, he resides in the Boston area with his American wife. Cristiano likes to say that he has been “hybridizing” over the past years in the U.S. He mixes the best of the both American and Italian cultures, which he loves, but never forgets his native roots in Turin, in Piedmont.
Davide Marchegiano has designed and led tours all over Italy and Europe for the last sixteen years; he loves to teach Italian using games and songs, as well as to bring guests to meet his many friends across his country. Davide was born in Ivrea, in Piedmont and he loves hiking and everything with pedals and wheels: he’s been riding and racing bikes for 30 years.
Andrea Marchesini is a professional drummer, bicycle mechanic, farmer and tour guide. With family from both South Tyrol and Liguria, he is a mix of two very cultures. Having led more than one hundred tours all over Italy, Andrea remains in love with his home region of Liguria and dedicated to helping you discover its wonders for yourself.
Your itinerary has been meticulously hand-designed by Food.Stories.Travel. and Andrea Marchesini. This journey is based on their favorite flavors and unforgettable past experiences. Every establishment you will visit has been personally vetted, tested and enjoyed by Cristiano himself and his team of experienced Tour Leaders.
In some cases we’ll take you to places you could not find by yourself or in a guidebook.