Levante: high, rocky and jagged coasts
Ponente: cliffs overlooking the sea and sandy beaches.
This is how we can briefly describe the Ligurian coast, a land where for millennia the wind and sea have drawn and tamed the sharp points of the gray rock covered by lush green vegetation.
The climate, temperate and pleasant throughout the year, has always been considered one of the best in the Mediterranean, historically making Liguria one of the favorite areas of European noble families for “wintering”.
Although Liguria is one of the smallest regions of Italy it is also one of the most densely populated. Due to its mountainous territory close to the sea, man has carried out its activity mostly on the coast where the main centers have developed and where architecture is therefore most concentrated.
Man intervened to model a harsh and rugged natural context, softening it by creating agricultural terraces, thus exploiting the steeply sloping land available as much as possible. This is how urban agglomerations we created; close to the sea, full of colorful houses, and public buildings all concentrated in a very small space, giving life and character to the landscapes of the Ligurian coast.
During the late Middle Ages the Republic of Genoa was one of the main trading powers of the Mediterranean and Black Seas, while between the 16th and 17th centuries it represented one of the major financial poles of Europe, manifesting itself with an economic empire supported by a dense network of political agreements reaching from Gibraltar to Central Asia.
So if you are on the Ligurian coast and you are a lover of design and architecture, here is a list of (unconventional) places that are worth visiting at least once in a lifetime.
Cantieri San Lorenzo (2020) | Ameglia
On the banks of the Magra river stands one of the four production centers of the San Lorenzo shipyards, a leading company in the production of luxury motor boats. The construction site was recently redeveloped by the architect Piero Lissoni who was able to give the rigor of simple industrial warehouses a recognizable and unprecedented soul.
Biosphere (2002) | Genoa
Known as the Bolla di Renzo Piano, this spherical structure in glass and steel suspended over the sea in the port of Genoa reconstructs a portion of rainforest inside with over 150 species of animal and plant organisms. Air conditioning uses the heat of the sea water in winter and a system of movable sails in summer.
Piazza del Vento (2017) | Genoa
Born from an inspiration of the architect Renzo Piano as a temporary installation for the 57th edition of the Genoa Boat Show, it was then converted into a permanent work capable of creating a poetic public space in which to celebrate the link between the city and the sea. Fifty-seven masts in red maple wood and white steel 12 meters high on top of which small sails sewn with colored spinnaker fabrics are installed.
The Bergeggi Lighthouse (2019) | Savona
Contemporary redevelopment of the lighthouse located along the Bergeggi coast. Today it is both the seat of the marine park of the island Bergeggi, and a private residence. The sculptural building, clad in light stone of various sizes, rises from the ruins of the ancient lighthouse and is made up of pure shapes and geometries while maintaining the pre-existing volume unaltered.
Palazzi dei Rolli (Genoa)
Group of noble palaces in the historic center of Genoa that were drawn to house the important people who were in Genoa on a state visit. They comprise a series of late Renaissance and Baroque buildings consisting of three or four floors with spectacular open stairways, courtyards and arcades overlooking large gardens.
Villa Durazzo (1678) | Santa Margherita Ligure
Built in 1678 as the summer residence of the Durazzo family, this noble residence underwent various modifications and alterations over time until 1919 when the park was definitively rearranged, enriching it with exotic plants, paths, statues and fountains. The villa, now owned by the municipality, is open to the public and can be visited all year round.
The Architectural Park of Torre del Mare (1954-60) | Torre del Mare
In the 1950s, the architect Galvagni was commissioned to trace the lines of the new urban development of the coastal promontory of Torre del Mare. Thus began the construction of a series of buildings and street furniture in reinforced concrete of recognized artistic value, emblematic of the Italian architectural technique of the time.
Abbey of San Fruttuoso (X-XI century) | Camogli
Medieval abbey set in the natural landscape, hidden among the rocks and the Mediterranean scrub a few steps from the rocky beach typical of the Ligurian coast. A magical place that can only be reached from the sea or along two scenic trails. The famous statue of Christ of the abyss was placed on the seabed of its bay in 1954. A unique abbey now part of the FAI which makes sure it stays intact and protected for all of us to see.