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Italian Villages That Inspire The Term “Riviera”

Finale Ligure, a sun-baked town at the edge of the Ligurian Sea, has no symphony orchestra or opera house. But it has a maestro of its own: Franco Morasca, the manager of Bagni Est Finale, a no-frills, private club on the beach that pulls in generations of Italians each summer for a reminder of what it means to be Italian.

The term “Riviera” was born in this region, on this crescent-shaped stretch of coast known as Liguria, which runs from the ancient town of Ventimiglia, just over the border from France, through better-known destinations such as San Remo, as well as casual beach spots like Imperia and Finale Ligure. And just inland are some tremendously appealing mountain towns like Borgomaro and Apricale.

What unifies each of these destinations is the unpretentious collection of bons vivants who descend on them annually, many of them from Milan, who embrace traditions and a family-centered way of life that still predominates here.

Much about traveling is about finding places like this: spots of unvarnished beauty where you can vacation amid locals who are embracing their own way of life, which is different from yours. This beauty inspires you, months later and back at work, to stare blankly in the distance, past your monitor and into your memories.

The Ligurian coast is certainly one of those spots. Its simplicity is like a time warp. It has none of the pretenses of Saint Tropez or big crowds of Cannes or even Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast. But village after village offers an illustration of a kind of a slow-food world, delicious, worth savoring.

Literally. A new generation of young chefs, inspired by the mix of cultures and flavors, are helping reshape the Italian palette along this coast, grabbing the local seafood, as well as meats, fruits and vegetables produced from the nearby mountains, to produce some of the best food coming out of Italy today yet largely ignored by foodies worldwide.

This area is simple, the beach, the sea, the sun and the flow oflife in Liguria. what else could you want?

(excerpt NY Times 9/25/17)