Among Italy's regions, Liguria is up and coming


NEW YORK -- Though Tuscany and Umbria have captured much of the limelight among Americans looking for culinary, art and adventure destinations in Italy, the region of Liguria is an up-and-coming contender.

seaside village Maria Paola Profumo, minister of tourism and culture for the Liguria region, was in New York recently to promote the destination's new slogan, "Adagio de Liguria," which can be translated, more or less, as "Liguria, slowly." "Adagio de Liguria means that we urge people to savor the atmosphere of Liguria rather than eat and run," Profumo said.

The area, also called the Italian Riviera, is best known for its principal city, Genoa, which has undergone a makeover in recent years, she said. "Genoa was an industrial port city at one time but now is really becoming a city of arts," she said. She cited the waterfront as one of the areas refurbished for the 1992 celebrations commemorating the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' voyage to America.

Other Genoa attractions include art museums, notably the Palazzo Rosso and Palazzo Bianco on the Via Garibaldi; the city aquarium, and the restored childhood home of Columbus.

Liguria also boasts two distinct coasts: the Riviera di Ponente, west of Genoa, stretching to the French border, and the Riviera di Levante, east-southeast of Genoa. Popular destinations along the coast include Portofino, the Cinque Terre ("five lands," acutally five towns) and Ameglia. "We want to highlight two main characteristics of the area for people who are not familiar with Liguria: the culture and health and fitness," Profumo said. "Year-round you can do many sports, such as biking, cycling, rock climbing, horseback riding, golfing and aquatic sports, such as surfing."

The Cinque Terre, which has become increasingly popular for hiking in the last few years, is just one of the regions suitable for off-the-beaten-track adventures, Profumo said.

Two new "cultural parks" -- Val di Magra-Terra di Luni and Riviera dei Fiori-Alpi Maritime -- offer walks highlighting the works of poets, writers and painters of the area. Also of interest is a private collection of 19th century art donated by American art collector Mitchell Wolfson to the city of Genoa.

Describing Liguria as an "outdoor museum," Profumo said the region is dotted with nature parks, reserves, botanical gardens and marine parks. Two museums -- La Via dell'Ardesia in Val Fontanabuon and the Museum of Pigna -- focus on the natural attractions of the region.

Profumo said the region is preparing for the papally designated Jubilee Year of 2000 with a series of special events and itineraries. "I think these activities will be important not only for religious travelers but also for general tourism," she said.

An exhibition of miniature paintings and other items created by sailors is planned for Savona for the Jubilee Year, she said. Another big exhibition, set to kick off in Genoa in 2000 before moving to other cities in Europe, will be called "Voyages en Italie." The show will focus on the works of artists and authors who traveled to Italy, such as Rubens and Flaubert.

Italian Government Tourist Office, Agent phone: (212) 245-4961

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