Anywhere you travel in this region, you will never be far from the sea, though seafood is not as plentiful as you might assume here in the heavily fished north. What is plentiful are acciughe (anchovies), and once you try them fresh and marinate (marinated in lemon) as part of an antipasto, you will never underestimate the culinary merits of this little fish again. More noticeable than fish are the many fresh vegetables that grow in patches clinging to the hillsides and find their way into tarts (the torta pasqualina is one of the most elaborate, with umpteen layers of pastry; some restaurants serve it year-round) and sauces, none more typical of Liguria than pesto, a simple and simply delicious concoction of basil, olive oil, pine nuts, and parmigiano ground together in a mortar and pestle (hence the name). It’s often used to top trenette: a short, hand-rolled twist of pasta sort of like a 5cm-long (2-in.) extra-thick spaghetti. Ligurians are also adept at making fast food, and there’s no better light lunch or snack than a piece of focaccia, flatbread that’s often topped with herbs or olives, or a farinata, a chickpea crepe that’s served in wedges. Both are sold in bakeries and at small stands, making it easy to grab a bite before heading out to enjoy the other delights of the region.

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