The New York Times made a shortlist of the 10 best destinations to visit this year and, unsurprisingly, several of them are in Italy. One region that has been growing increasingly popular among international travellers is Liguria: its beautiful landscapes, spectacular sunsets, lovely villages, and the crystal-clear water of its majestic gulf are as exotic and desirable ad the palm-lined beaches of the Caribbean and the mystic temples of Japan. If you are planning to offer your employees a travel incentive this year, Liguria might be a perfect choice.
Liguria’s never-ending summer
“Never-ending” might be a bit of an over-statement, but summer tends to last longer in Liguria than in the rest of Northern Italy. If you thought it was too late to book the kind of travel incentive that involves walking barefoot on the beach and sipping cocktails in your swimming trunks while watching the sun dive into the sea, you are in for a pleasant surprise. Liguria just turned the clock back on your incentive travel plans: here you can do all of the above well into October. There is a slightly higher risk of rainfall in the autumn, but if you plan carefully you will be able to make the best of all possible weather conditions.
What to do in Liguria: visit the towns of the Cinque Terre
Vernazza is the best destination for those who love long walks. This quaint village is located in one of the loveliest spots of Italy’s riviera. Most of the hiking paths that connect the beautiful towns of the Cinque Terre depart from or pass through here, including the famous Blue Path, which is both the most scenic and the easiest of all the paths in this area. If you decide to stay in Vernazza, rather than use it as a starting point to visit the rest of the region, you will find that the town itself offers plenty of interesting attractions. Visit the Castello Dorio and the beautiful Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Reggio, enjoy the landscape (and take amazing pictures) from the bastions of the Belforte fortress, and enjoy the sunset while dining on the local fish-based delicacies in one of the many fishers’ inns by the sea.
Luxury riviera: visit Portofino
Portofino is not exactly a hidden gem. Quite the contrary: it’s one of the most famous luxury destinations in Europe and widely acknowledged as one of the most beautiful historic settlements in the world. Choose this destination if you want to add a touch of glamour to your travel incentives. Here your employees will not only be able to relax and watch the sunset while nursing a cold glass of something expensive but also go on a shopping spree in the many designer stores and exquisite artisan workshops. Nature lovers will enjoy the local Natural Reserve, which includes a portion of the gulf, while history enthusiasts will be able to explore some of the best-preserved medieval and renaissance buildings in the area: the hermitage of S. Anthony of Niasca (dating back to the XIII Century) and Castle Brown, an impressive XVI century mansion
Halloween among the witches
If you want to make your trip a uniquely-themed one, why not go for a spooky visit to Triora, aka the witches’ village? What nowadays is little more than pleasant folklore is rooted in a truly dark and scary episode: Triora saw the largest and most relentless witch-hunt in Italy, in the late XVI Century. Its somewhat gothic looks, with the historic fortress sitting atop a mountain, add considerably to the atmosphere and to the legend. The village itself is tiny – it counts just over 400 inhabitants – and there is something mystical and obscure about it, something that draws those with a penchant for the mysterious and the obscure. And, if you have no patience for stories of supernatural creatures and dark presences, you should still visit Triora for the sheer beauty of the scenery, with the valley stretching wide below the fortress and the cool mountain air, that tickles your face as you are climbing up the narrow “carruggi”, the breath-taking paths that climb up the mountains of this incredible region.