Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Real Italy: Chiavari

Chiavari is one of the best-known sea-side resorts in the province of Genoa on the eastern Riviera. It has got a busy port and many shipyards too. It is also well-known for its light and refined chairs, made with wood or straw, and its hand-made lace called macrame The beach in Chiavari is large and lovely and most of the houses there are nicely decorated. Thanks to its mild winter climate, Chiavari is a really good place where to spend the coldest months and this is indeed what a lot of people like to do.

Distance from GENOVA, nearest big city: 45 km
Altitude: 5 meters above the sea level
Nearest airport: GENOVA
Train connections: is accessible from GENOVA and LIVORNO
Zip code: 16043
Telephone: dial +39.185 before the number you want to call

Chiavari was the hub of the eastern Riviera until 1727. During the Napoleonic years it was the capital of the Appennine Department, which stretched as far as the Duchy of Massa. After the Congress of Vienna Liguria was annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia. Later it took part in the unification of Italy. At the end of the XIX century a lot of beautiful hotels were built here and the town became renowned amongst the international high society of the time. Many of the Italians who had emigrated to South America now came back to Chiavari and had beautiful villas and houses built, as a sign of their new wealth.

The town plan is regular, with all the parallel streets intersecting perpendicularly. The town centre is typically medieval, as it features a carruggiu, that is a narrow alley 3 kilometers long lined with porticoes, where the fishing and commercial activities used to be carried out when the sea reached into this area of town. The Gothic-looking porticoes show different and irregular features.

The cathedral

The cathedral is in Piazza dell'Orto. It is a grand building with a majestic arcade added at the beginning of the XX century when the cathedral was restored. Inside you can see some valuable paintings, statues and decorations.

From the square some tree-lined streets branch off: Viale Millo, Viale Arata-Tappani and Corso Genova, where the best houses and villas are, built by the Italian emigrants after they returned home.

Chiesa di San Francesco

The Chiesa di San Francesco is in Piazza Matteotti. It was built around 1200. It is a building of great architectural interest. It was rebuilt in the XVII century and it has been deconsecretd since 1866. You can see the Palazzo di Giustizia (Palace of Justice) in Piazza Mazzini, which is very similar to Palazzo della Signoria in Florence. It was built in 1866 to include the ancient Citadel of 1404. The tower belongs to the original building.

Amongst the many other buildings worth visiting, we recommend the following.
Palazzo della Societࠅconomica, currently housing the central library, the Museo del Risorgimento and Chiavari Portrait Gallery.

Palazzo Rocca rises on a bastion of the old walls. This building belonged to the marquises of Malaguta, the Grimaldis and the Pallavicinos, before being owned by the Rocca family, who donated it to the town of Chiavari in order to be turned into a museum. The big stairs and the park are really worth visiting.

Palazzo Torriglia is a typical XVII-century building, but some of its external features will certainly remind you of the classical architecture of the Cinquecento. It contains a good collection of paintings. Palazzo Marana dates back to the XVIII century. It features an entrance so wide that more than one coach at a time could get through. The balcony is beautiful and stands out on the linear and simple fa硤e.

Not far from Chiavari you can visit the Santuario di Nostra Signora dell'Ulivo on the hill between Chiavari and Zoagli in Bacezza. Half way between Lavagna and Chiavari instead, you can visit the Santuario di Nostra Signora del Carmine.

The name Chiavari means "the key to the valleys", as it lies at the bottom of five valleys: Aveto, Fontanabuona, Sturla, Graveglia and Petronio. Through these valleys you can reach the Ligurian Appennines, where you can enjoy a wonderful view in the shade of dozens of Mediterranean trees like mimosas, magnolias and agaves. In Chiavari you will find many palm-trees and agaves along the seafront, where people like walking and cycling in the refreshing breeze all year round.

No comments: