Where is Liguria? Liguria stretches around the coast from the French border in the west to Tuscany in the east. On the way, it also borders Piedmont to the north west and Emilia-Romagna to the north east. The coastline is approximately 315 kilometres long and the region has an area of 5,420 square kilometres, making it the third smallest region in Italy. It is divided into four provinces: Genova, Imperia, La Spezia and Savona. The capital of the region, Genoa, sits at the centre of the curving coastline and is probably best known as the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.
In its heyday, Genoa was the most powerful maritime republic in the Mediterranean and it remains an important and thriving commercial port. Liguria is also known as the Italian Riviera, due to the large number of seaside resorts dotted along its coastline that stretch out either side of Genoa. The coast to the west is known as the Riviera di Ponente, and contains the resorts of San Remo, Imperia, Alassio, Loano and Finale Liguria. The coast to the east is known as the Riviera di Levante, and contains the famous harbours of Camogli, Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo, Sestri Levante as well as the famous and spectacular hillside area called Cinque Terre.
This area, and in particular the towns of Portovenere and Lerici, were made famous by their association with the English poets, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron who lived there in the early 19th century. Shelley died in a boating accident while returning to Lerici from nearby Livorno.
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Culture and history of Liguria
Occupied by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, Liguria belonged with Piemonte to the Decima Regio of the Roman Empire, then in the early 4th century AD was united to Emilia.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire it was conquered by the Byzantines who named it Provincia Maritima Italorum and then in the early 7th century by the Lombards, followed one century later by the Franks, who divided it into 3 feudal territories called Arduinica (in the west), Aleramica (in the center) and Obertenga (in the east), then was subsequently further divided into a number of fiefdoms such as Cavi, Lavagna, Savona, Ventimiglia, Nice, Genoa.
Liguria With the rise in power of the Communes against the feudal lords, very soon Genoa acquired the supremacy in the region, and became a powerful maritime republic, often at wars with other sea-trading centers like Savona and Venice. In the following century there were periods of independence followed by darker periods of foreign occupation, as under the Visconti of Milan.
The Republic of Genoa was an important ally of Napoleon, and suffered a blockade by the English fleet in 1805. For this reason it lost its independence in 1825, when the Congress of Vienna annexed the whole of Liguria to the Kingdom of Sardinia, under the Savoy family. The history of the region, always dependent on the sea, saw since mid-1800 a never-ending exodus of hundreds of thousands of Italian emigrants from the port of Genoa to destinations overseas.