An enchanting mix of villages, stunning seascapes, and great cuisine along the Italian Riviera

When you see pictures of colorful seaside Italian towns that look too charming to possibly exist, don’t be fooled—they do exist, and many of them are in Liguria!

This region is squeezed up under Piedmont in northern Italy along the coastline. It is made of the Apennines Mountain range, sweeping green hills that drop onto rocky coastlines, crystal-blue seas, and towns like the coastal Cinque Terre.

Beyond its plethora of resort towns along the Ligurian Riviera, its salty waters are home to rich sea life. Whale-watching is a popular sport for travelers. Observe more marine life at the aquarium in Genoa after exploring this colorful city, Christopher Columbus’s hometown.

Liguria’s steep cliffs and coastlines make for difficult, though visually stunning, vineyard cultivation. In the Cinque Terre, for example, monorails have been installed to help cart the grapes down the cliffs—most of which are vermentino for the wine Cinque Terre DOC, fresh with great mineral notes.

All along the coast from France’s border to Genoa is Liguria’s biggest DOC appellation, Riviera Ligure di Ponente, where white vermentino makes crisp Pigato (also the local name for vermentino).

But whites aren’t all that Liguria offers: bright, fruity Ormeasco is made from dolcetto, known as ormeasco in Liguria, and grown at high altitudes to give it its freshness. Colli di Luni, red or white, is one of Italy’s few appellations that bridge two regions: Liguria and Tuscany.