Food & Drinks

Taste Liguria in 10 Typical Foods

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Taste Liguria in 10 Typical Foods
Photo Globe Holidays

Ah, Liguria ... the small sun soaked strip of territory backing onto the mountains with the Tyrrhenian Sea lapping at its sandy shores, home to singers, poets and explorers, where eating well is easy and you wake up to sea views.

The sheer abundance of traditional dishes and specialties produced in the region can disorientate the most specialist of travellers, which is why it is difficult to select just 10 typical Ligurian foods: here is just a taster of what the region has to offer, but nonetheless a good starting point to discover the delicious Italian cuisine of the region.

1. Acqua di Fiori d'Arancio Amaro (Water from the Flowers or Bitter Oranges)

Photo: Slow Food Foundation

The orange flowers are traditionally cultivated in Vallebona, almost on the French border. The growing practice was abandoned in the 1950s, only to be re-adopted a few years later: the flowers are now distilled in a more modern and effective way to obtain the specialist water that is used to flavour and moisten sweets.


Authentic pesto is made with extra virgin olive oil, basil, Parmigiano Reggiano, pecorino cheese, garlic and sea salt. A true national treasure, which finds perfect company in typical Ligurian pastas including trofie and trenette. Unfortunately, it's a widely imitated product: so when you buy, always check the ingredients to make sure you will enjoy genuine Ligurian pesto.

3. Aglio di Vessalico (Vessalico garlic)

Photo: Slow Food Foundation

Not all garlics were created equal to Vessalico, a Slow Food Presidium food with an ancient history: the secret of its cultivation (now completely organic) and packaging have been handed down through many generations, which has ensured the longevity of its intense flavour and spiciness. It's particularly useful to have as a staple kitchen ingredient as it keeps for such a long time.


We all know the Focaccia di Recco IGP. But how many know how to pronounce the name of the cheese, which forms the essential ingredient? With a consistency somewhere between yogurt and cottage cheese and a sour taste, prescinseua used inside focaccia really makes a difference, there is no cheese quite like it.


Photo: Slow Food Foundation

This small lesser known citrus has a unique scent, and unusually beautiful flowers (plants of bitter orange are also used for ornamental purposes). Traditionally chinotto citrus is eaten in candy or preserved in jars, or even immersed in Maraschino. And, of course, it can become the basis of soft drinks and spirits.

6. Farinata


Legend has it that farinata originated in 1284; some Genovese sailors (veterans from the battle of Meloria) found themselves in a storm at sea resulting in several barrels of oil and sacks of chickpeas toppling over and becoming soaked with sea water. Though short of provisions, some sailors refused to eat the moist mess, thus discovering that dried, the unique mix became a kind of pancake. And, a very good kind of pancake at that.

7. Castagna Essiccata Nei Tecci Di Calizzano e Murialdo (Dried Chestnuts)

Photo: Slow Food Foundation

The Cecci are small stone buildings, within which the chestnuts are smoked on racks of wood. Layers are accumulated throughout the chestnut harvest, with the resulting dried chestnuts being an excellent ingredient for desserts: cookies, ice cream and jams.

8. Frizze Della Val Bormida


These meatballs are a reddish sausage loved by connoisseurs and experimenters. Made up of chopped pork liver and sausage, and flavoured with juniper berries, they are eaten cooked or fried on the plate. Sold mainly at a local level, they also have a very short shelf life.

9. Asparago Violetto di Albenga (Purple Asparagus from Albenga)

Image: Slow Food Foundation

Beautiful, delicious and unique: this asparagus' genetic heritage prevents it from being crossed with other varieties, plus it only grows succesfully in the plain of Albenga. Low productivity and the long seasonal cycle meant that the cultivation was all but abandoned, but is being revived thanks to Slow Food. To enjoy them at their best eat them as 'simply' as possible.

10. Sciroppo di Rose (Rose Syrup)


A specialty of Genoa and the Liguria province that manages to combine aroma, taste and beauty all in one syrup. After the harvest (May – June), rose petals are infused with lemon and water, macerated with sugar, brought to the boil and bottled. It's extremely refreshing diluted with cold water.

See what treats you've been missing out on in the neighbouring Piedmont region

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