Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Real Italy: Finale Ligure

Finale Ligure is a beautiful seaside resort, where many people like to spend their holidays, both in summer and in winter, thanks to its good climate, lovely beaches and great historic heritage.

The town is actually made up of three different smaller towns: Finale Ligure, Finale Pia and Finalborgo. The first two are right on the coast. Here you?ll like strolling about the many narrow streets busy with shops and tourists or lazing in the sun on one of the beautiful beaches. Finalborgo lies further back inland instead and has maintained the typical atmosphere of an ancient walled town.

The area where Finale Ligure is was heavily inhabited in both prehistoric and Roman times. In the Middle Ages all the land belonged to Bonifacio del Vasto and the Del Carrettos, who made it into a mighty marquisate whose capital was Finalborgo. The marquisate was under Genoese control all through the 14th century. The Genoese rulers had the old port silted up in 1341. In 1469 Alfonso I del Carretto got the title of marquis back from Massimiliano. In 1558 a popular uprising made Genoa lay claim to the marquisate again. This was followed by imperial claims till the Spanish Governor had the marquisate occupied in 1571. In 1602 it became Spanish possession. It was bought by the Republic of Genoa in 1713. Many of the architectural traces of the town's history are in the old Finalborgo.


The old village of Finalborgo is one of the main tourist attractions in the whole area of Finale Ligure. It was walled in the 13th century, then razed to the ground by Genoa and finally rebuilt.

The old Finalborgo is still encircled by crenellated walls and towers near the two main gates: Porta Reale and Porta Testa. Near to the Porta Reale is the Collegiata di San Biagio, originally a gothic church, then reconstructed in the baroque style. In the large nave and two aisles you can admire some valuable works of art of the Cinquecento and Seicento (16th and 17th centuries). The octagonal bell tower was built on one of the town wall tower in the 15th century.

From the Collegiate di San Biagio you can easily walk to Piazza Garibaldi, the heart of the village, where all the bars and shops are, always crowded with tourists. Not far away you'll find the Convent of Santa Caterina. This grand building was founded in 1359 and rebuilt two centuries later when the two Renaissance cloisters were added.

Today it houses the Town Museum of Finale, which contains some interesting archaeological finds of prehistoric, Roman and medieval times. The attached Chiesa della Superga contains the tombs of the Del Carretto family and a cycle of frescoes of the Quattrocento (15th cent.) Wherever you are in Finalborgo, just raise your head and you'll see the Castle, a fortified complex newly restored which guarded the village in the olden days.

Finale Marina and Finale Pia

Originally two separate villages, Finale Marina and Finale Pia are now practically one town. They are the tourist and business area of Finale Ligure. The heart of Finale Marina is Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, which stands out because of its imposing arch dedicated to Margaret of Austria.

The square and all the narrow streets around it are always teeming with tourists attracted by the bars, restaurants, hotels, boutiques and typical tiny shops.

The square looks straight on to the sea and the beautiful promenade lined with tall palm trees. Here you can walk or just relax in the shade after tanning on the nearby beach.

The old church of San Giovanni Battista, or of the Capuchins, was built on the ruins of an older medieval church not far from the sea.

If you walk beyond Finalborgo, you can get to Perti and visit the church of Sant’Eusebio with its 15th-century Romanesque crypt and further away the church of Nostra Signora di Loreto amidst the olive trees.

Of course the sea is the best natural resource Finale has to offer. It is very clean and the sandy or rocky beaches are wide. From Finalborgo you can go on an excursion into the inland. You can follow the river Aquila through a narrow gorge up to Feglino or Orco or you can reach Mount Melogno, the crossroads between Piedmont and Liguria. You'll probably come across one of the many prehistoric caves on your wanderings.

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