It is the sea of Turin. The Riviera Ligure di Ponente is undoubtedly the most frequented sea area by the inhabitants of the Piedmontese capital; many have a home along the coast, in one of the many villages of Savona or Imperia. However, there are also those who reach the Riviera for a stay of a few days, for a discovery tour or to enjoy an itinerary between mountains and sea.
Electric trip between Piedmont and Liguria
We opted for an itinerary that from Turin took us to the lands of Cuneo by electric car, to discover the beauties of some of the most beautiful cities in the south of Piedmont, to cross the wooded mountains that divide Piedmont and Liguria until we reach the seashore, allowing us to visit some of the most picturesque and rich in beauty centers of the coast, to then return to Piedmont, discover new centers and reach the Savoy capital again.
Day 1: Departure from Turin to Carmagnola, Fossano and Garessio
We start early in the morning from the heart of the city, with the battery charged (Turin abounds in Plenitude + Be Charge charging points), after enjoying a good cappuccino with brioche in a historic café. We leave the city of the Mole heading south, along the wide countryside that characterizes the extreme south of Turin. Carmagnola is the first stop of the itinerary. Located thirty kilometers from the capital, it is the city of pepper, celebrated in an important national fair held between the end of August and the beginning of September.
Interesting historical and cultural center, Carmagnola is worth a visit for its historic center and for the many architectural emergencies: among its treasures there are the ancient castle of the thirteenth century, seat of the Municipality, stately buildings such as Casa Cavassa, the Casa delle Meridiane and Palazzo Lomellini, the Synagogue and the church of Sant’Agostino dating back to the fourteenth century.
Also interesting is the museum offer with the Civic Naval Museum, an extraordinary journey to discover daily life at sea, between the history of the Italian Navy, naval modelling and naval activities from the Unification of Italy to today, and the Civic Museum of Natural History. Lunch in one of the restaurants of the city indulging in a taste of local cheeses and a good plate of agnolotti del plin with roast sauce, all accompanied by a good glass of Barbera d’Alba.
Leaving Carmagnola you return to the road that leads to the heart of the Cuneo lands, among cultivated fields, old farmhouses, hills and ancient bell towers, with, in the background, the unmistakable silhouette of Monviso. Fossano is the second destination of the itinerary, among the most important towns in the province of Cuneo. It is the majestic castle of the Princes of Acaja to characterize the city, founded in the first part of the thirteenth century, with an interesting medieval center that offers views, alleys and churches that bring back to the medieval and baroque atmospheres.
Overlooking the porticoed Via Roma there is the cathedral. Another treasure of the city is the church of the Holy Trinity, called the Battuti Rossi, one of the most interesting examples of Piedmontese Baroque in the area. Last stop of the day is Garessio, which we reach after leaving the fertile lands of Fossano and skirting the course of the Tànaro. Do not miss its characteristic historic center, divided into three villages, Ponte, Maggiore and Poggiolo.
To taste in Garessio the typical garessini, soft cocoa and hazelnut sweets, similar to meringues. Dinner in one of the restaurants of the town with a mixture of cold cuts and cheeses and a plate of veal tuna to be accompanied by a glass of Arneis, a prestigious white wine of Roero. Before retiring for the night we take a walk in the cool of the evening.
Day 2: Albenga, Alassio
We leave for the sea. We take the state road 582 of the Colle di San Bernardo. It is a typically mountain path that awaits us. We climb, between hairpin bends and panoramic views, up to 957 meters of the Colle di San Bernardo, from which we begin to descend towards Liguria. Among the various towns that we meet along the way, the most characteristic is certainly Zuccarello, whose medieval nucleus was the capital of the Marquisate of Zuccarello, an ancient pre-unification Italian state from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century.
We continue to Albenga, and taking advantage of the column on the Albenga-Garessio state road we reach on foot the beautiful historic center of the city, among the most interesting in Liguria, largely surrounded by walls and in which towers stand out, and there are prestigious buildings and architecture of medieval origin.
An authentic treasure of the city is the cathedral of San Michele Arcangelo, with a façade that has Romanesque and Gothic characters, which is joined by the bell tower, a splendid example of late Gothic art, built between 1391 and 1395, and the early Christian baptistery of the fifth century. Among the other valuable buildings of the city there are the Palazzo Vecchio del Comune, with the typical Ghibelline battlements, and the municipal tower.
To continue the visit of the city without stopping, it is ideal to enjoy a taste of focaccia with olives, or that with onions, or maybe with cheese. Also worth seeing is the suggestive Piazzetta dei Leoni, so called for the three piperine stone lions brought from Rome by the Costa counts of 1608. For those who want to grant a museum there is, among others, the Diocesan Museum, located in the Bishop’s Palace, an authentic treasure chest obtained in frescoed rooms rich in history.
Leaving Albenga we walk along the coast road, overlooking the island of Gallinara, until we reach the nearby Alassio. The history and architectural treasures of Albenga are combined with the liveliness of Alassio, one of the most popular seaside destinations on the Riviera di Ponente.
It is a must, for those who visit it, a walk in Via XX Settembre, better known as the “gut”,worldly soul of the city, an artery that runs through the historic center of Alassio, in which many picturesque alleys converge, it is its commercial heart, a succession of shops, shops, pastry shops, ice cream parlors, cafes and restaurants.
On the gut overlook numerous valuable buildings rich in history such as Palazzo Scofferi, Palazzo Ferrero de Gubernatis Ventimiglia and Palazzo Bonfante. Rich religious architectural heritage of the city with the parish church of Sant’Ambrogio, a stone’s throw from the gut, Santa Maria degli Angeli and the church of Sant’Anna ai Monti.
Do not miss a walk on the sea, overlooking the Island of Gallinara, before sitting at the table in one of the restaurants of the city, to enjoy a fish appetizer and a plate of rice marinara, all washed down with a good local white wine, maybe a Vermentino. Evening walk in the lively old town, enjoying, before the night, a breezy view of the sea.
Day 3: Laigueglia, Imperia, Cuneo
We leave Alassio for the nearby Laigueglia, a small seaside village on the Riviera delle Palme. Worth a visit is its historic center, which still retains the ancient flavor that seems almost to bring back to when Laigueglia was a village of sailors, merchants and coral fishermen.
Among the architectural treasures of the village are the baroque parish church of San Matteo, flanked by two twin bell towers surmounted by colored majolica domes and the oratory of Santa Maria Maddalena. On the shore of the sea there is still one of the three sixteenth-century towers built for the sighting of enemies, called “the Bulwark” or “Bastion of the Levant”.
We leave Laigueglia and continue towards Imperia, passing other interesting coastal villages including the vital Diano Marina.Di Imperia is worth a visit to the ancient Parasio, the ancient nucleus where it is nice to get lost among the caruggi that intertwine the main road that climbs to the top.
Oneglia and Porto Maurizio are the two souls of Imperia, a vital town overlooking the sea that offers a rich monumental apparatus in which the neoclassical basilica of San Maurizio stands out, the largest church in the region. It is the farinata, the low savory cake of chickpea flour and olive oil, to make the Imperia lunch unique.
We leave the sea of Imperia and climb to Piedmont along the colle di Nava state road. Wild valleys and villages, including Pontedassio, Pieve di Teco and Ormea, follow one another in the mountain stretch that divides the Riviera di Ponente from the wide Cuneo plain that we reach in the heart of the afternoon.
Cuneo is the new stage of our itinerary. Do not miss the central Via Roma that runs from the end of the city to its living room, Piazza Galimberti, named after the National Hero of the Italian Resistance. Beautiful historic arcades full of shops, shops and clubs.
Among the main treasures of the city there are the church of Sant’Ambrogio, the cathedral and the Palazzo della Torre, the first seat of the town hall, surmounted by the civic tower of the fourteenth century. Do not miss in Cuneo a taste of the typical Cuneo rum, the chocolates formed by the soft custard with dark chocolate and rum, enclosed between two meringue waffles, covered with a shell of dark chocolate.
Dinner in one of the bars of the city center, with raw meat beaten with a knife, a plate of tagliatelle al Castelmagno, the prestigious cheese of the Cuneo mountains, a sliced veal with coarse salt and rosemary, to be accompanied with a classic Piedmontese red, a Dolcetto di Dogliani, ending with a hazelnut bonet. After dinner walking through the medieval center of Cuneo.
Day 4: Racconigi and return to Turin
After a rich breakfast with the typical meliga pasta, prepared with corn flour, we leave for one of the richest towns in the history of Piedmont, Racconigi. Its charming historic center is joined by the sumptuous castle, an authentic treasure of the city, UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of the Savoy Residences of Piedmont.
Royal Castle of Racconigi
The visit to the Royal Castle of Racconigi is an experience that is not forgotten: the attachment that the Savoy family had for this imposing residence was so great that even today, visiting it, it seems almost to breathe its presence. The richness and splendor of the interiors is combined with the majesty of the park. Enchanting the beauty of the rooms of the castle, and of great charm the huge park, between wooded areas and large grassy spaces.
Before leaving for Turin we allow ourselves a delicious stop to taste some appetizers, including tasty anchovies al verde, and some typical local cheese. In the afternoon we leave the beautiful Racconigi. At the sight of the imposing castle of Moncalieri you begin to breathe the air of the great Turin, which slowly approaches.