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The Italian Riviera - Introduction
The scent of herbs and pines, the startling blue of the sea. The brilliant white of cliffs tumbling into the depths, the bronze of suntanned skin. The sound of pounding surf, the chiming of church bells. The sight of mountain peaks that break the clouds, the chill of an alpine breeze. All this, and more, is the Italian Riviera.

Pinned between the mountains and the sea, on a steeply-sloped crescent of land stretching from the French border to Tuscany, the people of the Italian region of Liguria – commonly known as the Italian Riviera – developed a unique character and way of life. The area is small – only 170 miles long and a mere 23 miles wide at its widest point.

Some historians and sociologists have theorized that the geography of Liguria had a profound psychological impact on the people who lived there. They reason that the limited landmass – with the sea on one side and daunting mountains on the other – had an "island effect," compelling the Ligurians to take to the sea as fishermen, traders, explorers, and sailors. To be sure, among their number is perhaps the most famous explorer of all time, Christopher Columbus.

This predilection for seafaring and commerce enabled Liguria's principle city, Genoa – once capital of the Republic of Genoa – to amass unparalleled riches and astonishing political power between the 12th and 18th centuries. An old saying states that "Gold is born in the Americas, passes through Spain, and dies in Genoa." The city's fascinating history is filled with intrigue as its leading families used murder, marriage, might, and manipulation to secure their personal fortunes and the global ascendancy of the Republic they ruled as oligarchs.

More than half of Liguria is protected park land and the coastal areas are carefully and deliberately stewarded. Each town of the Riviera is an actor in a larger drama that has been playing for centuries. In the past the storyline centered on the prestige and ambition of the Genoese Republic and its influence in the world. Today, the people are working to reap the roduction rewards promised by global tourism, while maintaining their identity and integrity.
About the Author
Hunter Publishing is a travel guide publisher with several hundred guidebooks to destinations around the world.
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