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The Allure of the Ligurian Coast is its history and beautiful cities (Part two)

Friday, February 17th, 2012

The monastery we selected (from among hundreds in The Guide to Lodging in Italy’s Monasteries) has eight double rooms with private bath.

Portofino is one of the most exclusive resorts in Italy. A harbor town, it is anchored on a promontory overlooking the sea and coastline. What makes the town even more delightful are the brightly colored houses that edge the portside piazza and compose a postcard pretty picture. As hikers, we found another trail that was quite lovely. If you’re up for the walk, take the road near the16th century Castle of San Giorgio through a pine woodland to the Punta del Capo lighthouse. And whatever you do, wherever you go in this part of Italy, don’t forget your camera.

Nearby Genoa, capital of the region, remains the most important harbor in Italy. It is laid out along the seashore like an amphitheater. A maze of narrow streets comprise the heart of the old city where humble houses, medieval churches and 16th century palaces stand side by side. The austere facades of the churches, often layers of black and white marble, belie the beauty within. The surrounding hilltops are scattered with walls and fortresses from the early 17th century. In the 13th century, the city was the main maritime power of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Some of the city’s sights include the Palazzo Rosso and its fine gallery showcasing Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Veronese and Durer while the Palazzo Bianco exhibits the works of Pontormo, Reubens and Van Dyck. Don’t miss the Staglieno. It is as much a sculpture garden as an amazing cemetery. Planned in the mid 15th century, it is a place unto itself. There’s a map that will show the way down numerous cedar and cypress lined avenues to some impressive monuments. Make note of the often provocative granite and marble female figures on the tombstones.

The monastery we selected (from among hundreds in The Guide to Lodging in Italy’s Monasteries) has eight double rooms with private bath. The rooms are in a recently renovated section that is open year-round. The cost per person, per night depends on the time of year. As an aside, the monks produce an ointment that heals wounds and extracts splinters from under the skin. The ointment is sold throughout Italy. For more information about other monasteries in every part of Italy, visit http://www.monasteriesofitaly.com