Genoa is the best place in the Italian Riviera for a shopping-lover’s holiday. You’ll find tiny atmospheric shops sprinkled around the historic old quarter, and bigger fashion boutiques lining the grand boulevards like Via XX Settembre. In the Cinque Terre and other small villages, souvenir stands sell much of the same-same, though you can find some unique objects, including locally made ceramics and jewellery, paintings by Ligurian artists, and food and drink (including one hard to pronounce dessert wine, sciacchetrà) rarely available elsewhere.
Arts & Crafts
Local artisans ply their wares at shops throughout the Cinque Terre. Things to look out for include colourful jewellery – such as Bottega d’Arte’s pieces that incorporate vintage elements sourced from Italian markets – and artfully designed ceramics produced by a family-run outfit in Monterosso. Artwork makes a memorable souvenir, and local painters create works showcasing the beauty of this rugged coastline.
Love of Lemons
Cinque Terre’s rocky soil proves to be the perfect setting to grow big juicy lemons. These are put to fine use in the region’s signature tipple limoncino. Much like limoncello, which hails from the Amalfi Coast, this sweet liqueur is usually served chilled in a small glass at the end of a meal, though it’s also used in some cooking recipes, and a few bartenders feature it in mixed drinks. The handsome bottles, some of which are hand-painted, make great gift ideas. Lemons are also used to make fragrant soaps and pasta mixes, which are sold in abundance at shops throughout the Cinque Terre. And lemon gelato is one of the great delicacies of the region – sold at every gelateria in the region.
A premium dessert wine, Sciacchetrà (shah-keh-TRAH) is produced from only the best grapes grown in the Cinque Terre. The amber-yellow, aromatic wine has an intense nose and is richly complex with notes of dried fig, candied orange and hazelnut. It’s quite labour-intensive to make. Meticulously selected grapes are picked by hand then left to dry naturally indoors on trellises for two months before fermenting, followed by 16 months ageing in steel barrels. Because of the work and time involved, these wines aren’t cheap, and are sold in 375ml bottles (some of which are beautifully handpainted) starting at around €35.