A major port and the home of the myrtle-leaved orange tree, which bears a citrus fruit. It may have been introduced by a sailor returning from the Orient in the late 16th century and has acclimatised very well. But perhaps not everyone knows that Savona also boasts the largest and most important castle in western Liguria: the 16th-century Priamar fortress, which dominates the hill and is today a museum space. It was occupied by Napo­leon during the Italian Campaign and Giuseppe Mazzini was held prisoner in it. Bonaparte stayed in Villa Cambia­so, a lovely frescoed 17th-century villa just outside the city centre where, a few years later after becoming Emperor, he imprisoned Pope Pius VII. Moving outside the city, behind Savona, in Altare, you can learn all about an age-old glassmaking tradition at Villa Rosa, an elegant example of early 20th-century Art Nouveau style, the home of the Glassmaking Museum. It is also an event and wedding venue, as is the nearby Quassolo castle in Carcare, Art Nouveau in style with more Bonaparte me­mories and the scene of a major Napoleonic victory over the Austrians. Age-old artistic traditions continue along the coast. At Albissola Marina, capital of ceramics, Villa Faraggiana is a splendid 18th-century villa and a mu­seum of art of the period.

With stuccowork and frescoes, it is an ideal space for ce­lebrations and weddings. The script is repeated at Villa Gavotti della Rovere in Albisola Superiore, an 18th-century gem with a magnificent Italian garden full of sta­tues, grottos and woods. Our coastal explorations lead to Finale and Castelfranco castle, dating from the 14th-century and perched on the Gottaro headland. In the ancient heart of Albenga, Palazzo Oddo is a mix of 17th- and 18th-century style and today an exhibition venue. Not to be missed in Alassio is one of the botani­cal wonders of the Riviera – the magical gardens of Villa della Pergola, 22,000 m² of vegetation, fragrances and colours recreated by the architect Paolo Pejrone; and in Andora the grandiose 19th-century Palazzo Tagliaferro now housing a Centre of Contemporary Culture.

 

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