Liguria, the extreme south-western part of Northern Italy, lies on the Ligurian Sea. It is therefore the natural outlet to the sea for the upper and middle Po Valley, from which it is separated by the outlying crests of the Alps and the beginning of the Apennines. Although Liguria is the smallest Italian region after Valle d'Aosta and Molise, it has the highest density of population in Italy after Campania and Lombardy. It borders with France to the west, Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna to the north and Tuscany to the east.
the region of Liguria is a slender strip of land at the top of Italy's boot, curving north-westwards around the Mediterranean, stretching from Tuscany to the French border. This area is often known as the 'Italian Riviera' and its seaside resorts and elegant promenades have attracted sun-hungry northern Europeans for more than a century. The generally rocky coastline rises up to inland mountains which are increasingly steep and high towards the north-west where the Maritime Alps (reaching up to over 2,600m in height) meet the sea. This geography has created a famously mild climate benefiting both tourism and the region's renowned gardens.
Liguria spreads in an arch from the mouth of Roia to that of the Magra rivers, embracing the south side of the Ligurian Alps and Apennines (separated by Colle di Cadibona) as well as a large part of the Po Valley flanks. Most of the territory is mountainous or hilly with narrow strips of fairly low terrain along tracts of the coast or near several low alluvial valleys. The highest mountains rise in the west of the region (Mount Saccarello, 2,200 m.) where the landscape becomes decidedly mountainous: to the east, the mountains are lower and the landscape becomes much gentler, broken at intervals by rocky spurs. Numerous valleys penetrate the mountains: those to the south cut mainly across the lie of the mountains, and their rivers are generally fast-flowing torrents; however, the most important valleys (of the Arroscia, Lavagna and Vara rivers) lie longitudinally. To the north of the watershed, the mountains are broken high in the valleys by tributaries of the Po, principally the Tanaro, Bormida di Millesimo, Bormida di Spigno, Scrivia, Trebbia and the Aveto.
The southerly exposition of most of the region, the lie of the mountains providing protection against continental influxes from the Po Valley and the long stretch of coastline are the principal factors making for the particularly mild climate of most of Liguria. On the southern side, the climate is typically Mediterranean with limited variations in temperature, mild winters and cool ventilated summers; in the higher inland areas and the Po Valley side it becomes increasingly continental. The precipitations are more abundant in autumn and winter, increasing from west to east; in the high basins of the Trebbia and Aveto rivers, they exceed 2,000 mm./year, reaching as much as 3,000 mm. in some areas.
The only major city in Liguria, located right in the middle of its coastline, is the historic port of Genoa, once one of the Mediterranean's great powers. The coast to the west of Genoa, dotted with resorts like Sanremo, is known as the western riviera, the Riviera di Ponente. In the other direction, heading southwards to Tuscany, the coast is called the Riviera di Levante, and encompasses the cliffside villages of the Cinque Terre, and the posh harbour Portofino.
The Ligura region is divided into four provinces: Genova (Genoa), Imperia, La Spezia and Savona.
Ligurian food is filling and delicious. The flower-growing region is also famous for its edible produce: olives, peaches, asparagus, artichokes and tomatoes; speciality dishes include pesto - with pasta or even on pizza - and products based on potatoes and chickpeas. Specially recommended isfarinata, a tasty snack which is made from chickpeas and which is delicious eaten hot in a takeaway.