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Top events and festivals in Liguria

17th November 2011 Print

Liguria in Northern Italy is uniquely situated between the sea and Alps giving the beautifully sunny coastline a lush sloping backdrop. The temperate climate and rich, fertile soil provides ideal conditions for growing great tasting produce which is nationally renowned. Liguria's interior and shore are peppered with villages which are saturated with cultural aspects and have retained many of their traditional characteristics. This region celebrates its assets in a fantastic array of events and festivals across the year; ranging from celebrations of Liguria's infamous pesto to displays of vibrant, natural colours in the flower festivals.

Calendar of Events

100 participants from all over the world will gather in Palazzo Ducale, Genoa on 17th March to put their skills to the test at Campionato Mondiale Di Pesto Genovese Al Mortaio. The challengers must make Genoese pesto sauce, according to the traditional methods, and using the authentic and genuine ingredients and a mortar and pestle. Everyone is welcome to take part, from qualified chefs to those who are simply intrigued by this local delight. Willing participants can subscribe online. For more information visit

For sports and bike enthusiasts La 24 ore di Finale is an unmissible mountain bike competition, famous across Europe for its unique cross between a festival and an intense mountain bike race. The non-stop 24 hour race takes place in May (dates TBC) and starts in the town of Manie just outside of Finale Ligure with a track which winds through both Mediterranean forest and paths with scenic sea views. Live music, entertainment, food and beer are available to spectators. For more information visit

The 'largest frying pan in the world' will be in use on the 13th May during the Sagra del Pesce to fry fish for guests and tourists alike in Camogli. Set in the picturesque port, this very traditional Ligurian feast was established in 1952 and is concluded with celebrations and bonfires. For more information visit

During the second half of May (dates TBC) Sestri Levante becomes the capital of the fairy tale for the week dedicated to the Premio Andersen. Exhibitions, events and shows surround various award presentations including the prize for the best Italian children's book. The event is organised by the Andersen magazine and was founded in 1982 by Gualtiero Schiaffino. For more information visit

The Battaglia Di Fiori flower festival celebrates its 50th year in June 2012 (dates tbc) which promises vivid colours along with a fantastically lively atmosphere. The festival is held in the small costal border town of Ventimiglia. The whole month of June celebrates the early summer blooms with events around the village. The 'Battle of Flowers' begins with a spectacular procession of floats covered in thousands of petals and flowers. Over 200,000 flowers are used to decorate each wagon, each of which measures eight by four metres in dimension. During the festival, a battle takes place between the public and the performers taking part in the parade, with a mutual launch of scores of flowers. This perhaps is one of the most harmless and colourful fights in the world! The procession and battle is accompanied by folk bands that keep spectators entertained. For more information visit

The climate of Liguria is perfect for wine production and has lead to some of the locally produced wines becoming world renowned for their individual traits and excellent flavours. Towards the end of June (date TBC) the Liguria Da Bere festival in La Spezia celebrates Ligurian wines and tempts visitors with stalls displaying local goods, tasting sessions, workshops and a calendar full of talks and seminars with experts and producers. For more information visit-

The International Fiat 500 Gathering will take place from the 6th to 8th July 2012 in Garlenda, Savonai. Now in its 29th year the International Fiat 500 Meeting will see 1,000 cars in participation. Villafranca Park will be used for the registration and visitors will have access to the Multimedia Museum of Fiat 500 with a 'spare parts market' taking place at the Serre Park. On Sunday morning there will be a spectacular gathering at the Villanova d'Albenga Race Course where the prizes are awarded and the cars 'catwalk' will take place.  For more information visit

For music lovers the International Festival of Chamber Music is a must and is held in Cervo, Imperia. The festival will be celebrated in July/August (date tbc) and previous performers include Michelangeli, Richter, Kempff, Annie Fisher, Pollini, Radura-Skoda, Vegh, Menhuin, Gitlis, Ughi, Accardo, Kogan, Zimmermann, Gazzelloni, Rampal. The stunning venue for this festival, the Corallini Church, becomes an enchanting place making this small village of rare beauty unmissable. For more information visit

The National Antiques Exhibition based in Sarzana, Le Spezia never fails to impress with a display of various objects of a noteworthy value. The exhibit will take place during August (dates tbc) on the Eastern tip of the 16th century town walls within the Citadel, a part of the former fortress "Firmafede." For more information please visit

The Soffitta in Strada which translates in English to 'The Attic on the Street' will take place among the alleys and the narrow streets of Sarzana during the same period as the National Antiques Exhibition. Dozens of stalls are erected displaying various items including jewelry, plates, trays, glass, furniture and paintings. Soffitta in Strada welcomes both curious onlookers, devout antique enthusiasts, who wish to spend an afternoon or an evening browsing the stalls and exhibits and antique dealers, who have come from across Italy and Europe to pick up unique pieces. For more information visit

Early in October (dates tbc), the annual Pesto e Dintorni festival takes place in Lavagna (Genoa), an unmissable event for pesto lovers. The festival focuses on the famous Ligurian sauce as well as the 'magnificent seven' - basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, pine nuts, pecorino and parmesan cheese - the traditional ingredients used to create this regional specialty. The free event is open to all and provides a perfect opportunity to sample the popular sauce, as well as learn more about the local produce and traditional cooking techniques. For more information visit

The first half of October sees the 52nd International Boat Show (dates tbc). Known to locals as the 'Salone Nautico Internazionale,' the show has grown considerably since its humble roots and is now supported by The Italian Marine Industry Association and recognised by the International Federation Boat Show. The show now covers 100,000 square metres of water and over 200,000 square metres of land space. The stands and outdoor areas are set within the entrance of the port of Genoa giving the perfect surroundings for this nautical event. For further information visit

For lovers of art Van Gogh and Gauguin's Journey is an extraordinary exhibition consisting of 80 masterpieces of 19th- and 20th-century European and American paintings from museums worldwide. From 12th November 2011 - 15th April 2012 these Vincent Van Gogh inspired pieces will be on display in Genoa at the Palazzo Ducale along with Gauguin's painting "Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?" For more information please visit

OliOliva - the three day festival of the new season olive oil known as 'green gold' takes place at the end of November (dates tbc) in Imperia, the historic centre of Oneglia. Visitors can savour the region's most important basic ingredient - essential to so many Mediterranean dishes - with cooking demonstrations, stands from regional producers and a guided walk through Imperia to learn about the history and culture of food in the area, from olive oil to bread and everything in between. There are also Institutional and tourist stands representing the Mountain Communities of the territory of the "Olive Oil City". For more information visit

Every weekend, Genoa's historic centre and some of its Palazzi Rolli are open to visitors. Visitors have the opportunity to be accompanied by expert guides through the narrow 'caruggi' (alleys) to discover the charm of the old town. The departure point for all guided tours is the area of the Porto Antico, by the info-point and the Aquario ticket office. The tour includes stops at the Cattedrale, the Palazzo Ducale and the Teatro Carlo Felice. The final visit is to some of the Palazzi Rolli, the elegant homes of the 16th and 17th century Genoese nobility, which have become part of the UNESCO World Heritage site. These buildings preserve some of the original furnishings and important masterpieces by Italian and foreign artists, such as: Veronese, Procaccini, Rubens and Van Dyck. For more information visit

BA has regular flights to Genoa and prices start from £128 return. Ryanair also flies to Genoa from Stansted, from £19.99 one way. /