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  • Jennifer

From Genoa to Finale Ligure with stops in between

Updated: Jan 17, 2022

We were excited to leave the busy port city of Genoa and head West toward our next location, Finale Ligure. We had a few stops to make along the way, including Arenzano, Varazza, Savona and Noli. Our goal was to see if any of these towns would warrant a 30 day stay during our Quattro 90 Plan. Some were small and cute (Noli) and others so big and industrial we didn't even bother stopping (Savona). None actually hit the mark so we were glad to finally reach our destination.

We were doing something new in Finale Ligure, something we'd never done before - stay in an agriturismo. We'd heard Rick Steves talk about agriturismos for years, how great they were for getting a real taste of life in Italy, and we decided this would be a great place to try one. Agriturismos are working farms that provide accommodations, it's an effort to help keep small farms viable in Italy (agriculture+tourism). We were leery as we drove up the side of a mountain toward our agriturismo, Il Pernambucco della Contessa. We crawled up the windy dirt driveway through a lush olive grove, vegetable gardens, oranges and lemon trees, and cedars dotting the landscape. There was even a small campground for travelers, once again surprising us with the popularity of camping in Europe.

The owners greeted us on the terrace of the main house and took us to our room, which was perched further up on the hill with a great terrace looking down on the valley. Beautiful lush landscape was to our right, and Castel Gavone sat atop the hill to our left. Before we went off to explore, the owner insisted that we stop at the historic village of Finalborgo just down the road on our way to Finale Ligure. We promised we would, and boy are we glad we did. The place was amazing!

Walking through the arched gateway to this walled town was like stepping back in time. Small stone alleyways led to beautiful piazzas with lovely shops and restaurants. It's no wonder Finalborgo has been called one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. We couldn't agree more!

But before we explored this tiny village we wanted to see the "big town" (by comparison) of Finale Ligure and enjoy some aperitivo. For those of you not familiar with the awesome Italian tradition, aperitivo is a cocktail in the hours between work and dinner. But that's not all! Aperitivo is different in every bar or restaurant, but it always includes appetizers that!

Yes, all you have to do is order your favorite cocktail and they bring nibbles along with it. Needless to say, an Aperol Spritz is typically the drink of choice during aperitivo, but for someone like me, who doesn't like Aperol, there are lots of other delicious choices (gin drinks were especially yummy in Italy). We are huge fans of aperitivo.

We strolled the pedestrian only shopping area in Finale Ligure before heading back to Finalborgo for dinner. And boy was Finalborgo jumping! The restaurants and bars were full of people enjoying the warm evening under the light of the castle on the hill. It was awesome.

We followed the sound of Foo Fighters wafting out of a bar onto the cobblestone alley, where we found a cool spot, Valhalla. Before we sat down, though, we popped into a little shop next door to pick up a bottle of local wine and a hand-made Christmas ornament. This is a tradition we started years ago, and every year when we put up our tree it's always so nice to remember the places we've been.

I wasn't terribly hungry after our aperitivo, but Joe enjoyed a great pasta dish at Valhalla and the energy of the place was perfect - just people loving the music and the drinks and the vibe of modern fun within the walls of a historical village.

There was even a clocktower to remind us that this was a magical place. Take a listen!

After dinner we made our way back to the agriturismo and settled on our terrace with the bottle of local wine. The stars and castle lit up the sky, and the scent of cinnamon drifted through the night air toward us.

The owners were already hard at work in the main house preparing our breakfast for the morning. It was the perfect ending to our adventure in this off-the-beaten path town.

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