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1950s Archive

A Gastronomic Tour of Italy


Originally Published March 1954

The Italian Riviera, Birthplace of Christopher Columbus will yield rich discoveries to present day explorers

There are, needless to say, several ways to approach Italy with taste buds atingle. An ocean liner will land the inquiring gourmet within a three-minute walk of a fragrant Neapolitan pizza or the most subtle of Genoese raviioli. Stepping off a plane, another questing voluptuary finds himself only a bus ride away from the fastidious restaurants of Rome, Milan, Florence or Bologna. Trains, express autocars and gondolas will take him to less attainable cities. Then again, he may approach this fair peninsula by car, through difficult Alpine passes or by way of the Riviera. This gustatory expedition, soft, sun seeking Sybarites that we are, has chosen the latter approach. It is far from original, but we are confident that the climate, the gaiety and, above all, the culinary charm of Liguria will justify the choice in your eyes.

Back in the dim chapters of history, Gauls, Romans and Franks have controlled this iridescent ribbon of shore. In the Middle Ages, it belonged to Genoa, and it seesawed back and forth until, at the dawn of the nineteenth century, it became a part of Piedmont. Following the treaty of 1860, which ceded Nice to France, the narrow strip of land which tumbles into the Mediterranean from the watersheds of the Alps is now equally shared by the two adjoining countries. At first sight, Prance seems to have the best of the bargain, at least from the viewpoint of sophistication. Cannes or Cap d'Antibes can be dazzling at first sight! But the Italian Riviera has an intriguing simplicity which comes as something of a relief. After the endless repetition of French perfume shops, lottery booths, candied fruits and jewelry stores, how bereft of artifice are the first few miles of Italy!

Here, beyond a doubt, is a hard working elbow of the Azure Coast, where the husky, hill climbing paesano has to labor long to make a livelihood from his terraces of chrysanthemums, oranges and carnations. This impression of toiling thrift is heightened by the appearance of donkeys, heavy laden with casks of wine or olive oil, and by straight backed women carrying jugs and bundles on their heads. How quiet and primitive it all seems, you say to yourself. But even as you approach Bodighera, for generations the winter refuge of fog fleeing Londoners, things begin to seem less restful. There is something vaguely nerve shattering in the atmosphere. It doesn't remain vague for long, however. Two new and disquieting factors have arrived to lend a staccato pulse to postwar Italy. One is the repetitious, impact type roadside advertising, which we'll try to discuss later when our power of invective has become a little more acid. The other is the locust plague of “scooters, ” a word which is now admitted freely into all Latin languages. This fat wheeled little monster has developed to such a point of efficiency and adroitness that owning one is the cherished dream of every Italian youth.

By the time you arrive in San Remo, glistening with luxurious hotels and a naughty looking casino, it is clear that first impressions can be wrong. There is more play than toil along this sunny shore, especially in summer. The Italian Riviera is quite as dedicated to the business of attracting travelers to its hotels as to growing flowers, squeezing olive oil or building ships. Aware of the phenomenal percentage of warm, sunny days throughout the year, a rate of foreign exchange which greatly favors the visitors, and a shore line which in places is supremely beautiful, it is not surprising that the tourist responds to the siren call. It is gratifying to report at first hand that the exacting gourmet interested in regional cookery and wines will encounter rewarding adventures in Liguria and, for that matter, in almost all of the Italian regions. Local wines and dishes have the same charm and variety as they do in France.

Before we take you for a brief tour of this fragrant coast line, a preview of its epicurean resources might be welcome. A mere glance at these immense mountainsides carpeted with olive trees reveals Liguria's first treasure: the clear, appetizing olive oil which is used in almost all Genoese cooking. A cow would have to be an acrobat to exist on these rocky slopes, and even goats are sparse. No need, therefore, to look too far for local cheeses. For generations Italian farmers have built up stone terraces on these sun soaked hills. By dint of hard labor they have made them productive, aided by concrete water tanks high above them. Fruit trees, flowers and vegetables are box holders in these fertile balconies facing southward to the sea. The citrus family is there in full force oranges, lemons, tangerines and grapefruit but figs, pears, persimmons, peaches, strawberries and table grapes do equally well. So do vegetables, particularly artichokes, asparagus, tear shaped little tomatoes and long white radishes which have to be cooked to be palatable. One herb sprouts in unrivaled splendor here basil, the key aroma to Genoese cooking. Higher up in the mountains are orange roofed mushrooms, pine nuts for the asking and a rich yield of chestnuts.

Obviously the sea must furnish a major part of Liguria's larder. Even the Genoese admit that the fishing isn't as good here as in some parts of the Mediterranean, but to the layman watching the catch being unloaded, the yield is impressive. The aristocrats are blue-grey fellows called dentice and ombrine, delectable when poached and served with hollandaise. Then there are the old stand-bys-red mullet, mackerel and dorade and plenty of shellfish. Aragosta bears a close resemblance to a langouste, and gamberetti are a delicious variety of shrimp. It is among the smaller fry that adventure lies, particularly the baby occupuses, calamaretti which are about the size of our fried clams, and whitebait, bianchetti, both of which are delicious alla genovese. To terminate this sketchy listing, there are mussels, some of which have almost the exact size, shape and color of a date. When “date stew” appears on the menu, it indicates a local variant of moules marinière.

The wines of Liguria are few and far between, but they are good and rather easy to remember. A valley slope only a few miles beyond the French frontier produces the most agreeable red wine in Liguria. It is called Rossesse, and the best comes from a vineclad community musically called Dolceacqua. Fragrant and dry, it has a delicate pallid rose color, but it carries unexpected power. Say “row say say” to the waiter, and expect something pleasant! Coronata is a golden white wine from the hills above Genoa. When genuine, it is an ideal companion for Genoese fish dishes. Easier to obtain is a pale, fairly aromatic white wine from the region of La Spezia. It is named Cinque Terre, from the five communities which produce it. The remainder of your wine list calls heavily upon the wine rich neighbors Piedmont and Tuscany.

Almost all of the regional cookery along this shore stems from Genoa, and it is absolutely resplendent in its variety and succulence. Most Genoesedishes are mild, subtle, and nor too difficult to prepare. They are far removed from the Neapolitan dishes best known to us in America.

The keynote is struck, nor by a dish but by a sauce, a meatless sauce for Lent, for Friday and almost any other day in Genoa, called pesto. Ah, that sublime pesto, it's something to reckon with! It adds indescribable bouquet to minestrone and green stuffed ravioli. It spreads a hot. aromatic green blanket over any member of the spaghetti family, bur it is particularly good with trenette, freshly made noodles the width of an old fashioned shoestring.

You might translate the word pesto as “I pestle, ” since it is the product, first of the chopping board and (hen a good stiff session with mortar and pestle. It is made up of chopped leaves of basil, grated Sardo cheese, chopped garlic, pine nuts and olive oil. Sardo is a dry, salty, husky cheese made from sheep's milk. Some cooks use the more common Parmesan cheese. Chopped walnuts can he added, or can replace the pine nuts. We had the privilege of seeing pesto made by a genial Genoese cook. The first act is to attack several fistfuls of thick, fresh basil with a sharp, rainbow-shaped knife having a handle at each end. In no time at all she had the herb minced into fine shreds. Then came the cheese, garlic and nuts, and more lightning manipulation of the seesaw knife. Then the whole thing was pushed into a mortar and the kitchen boy took over, first pounding, then pestling, adding a little olive oil with every application of elbow grease. When his labors were over the pesto had the consistency of butter, the color of sage cheese, but not its flavor.

Your Genoese purist insists that pesto simply can't be made anywhere else. because only on the Italian Riviera can be grown the richly perfumed basilico which provides its unique flavor. Any patriotic Marseillais will claim the same thing about his bouillabaisse. It can't be genuine unless it is blessed by the thorny snouted rascasse, an unlovely but aromatic rockfish. Having seen the latter contention nobly disputed by cooks from Paris to Hingham, Massachusetts. we are not at all convinced that a perfectly good pesto isn't achievable in a resourceful American kitchen. You might try the following proportions:


In a mortar mix 3 cloves of garlic, chopped, 2 tablespoons minced sweet basil leaves, 2 tablespoons grated Italian cheese, 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts and ¼ teaspoon salt. Pound the mixture with a pestle to a smooth paste. Still pounding, add gradually about 3 tablespoons olive oil and work the mixture thoroughly to make a smooth sauce.

Genoa claims a whole panorama of dishes as its own, and it is with difficulty that we limit them to a mere half dozen specialties. Among the farinaceous dishes, ravioli is considered to be the masterpiece of Genoese cooking. The familiar little paste pillow is rich and yellow with eggs, and stuffed with a subtle mixture of chicken, brains, sweetbread, spinach, and spices.

Ravioli alla Genovese

Sift 3 cups flour into a bowl with a dash of salt. Stir in 2 eggs, lightly beaten, and enough water to make a rather stiff dough. Knead the dough for 2 minutes, or until smooth, cover it with a warm bowl, and let it stand for about 10 minutes.

In a skillet saute half a chicken breast. 1 sheep's brain, 1 sweetbread, and 1 chicken liver in 2 tablespoons butter until lightly browned. Cover the skillet and cook the meat gently for 12 minutes. Run the meat twice through the fine blade of a meat chopper and moisten it with ¼ cup beef or chicken stock.

Add 2 tablespoons slivered ham, 1 cup cooked, sieved spinach, salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste, and the yolks of 2 eggs and mix well.

Cut the dough in half and roll out each half on a lightly floured board into a thin sheet. On one sheet place 1 teaspoon of the filling every 2 inches until the filling is used. Cover the filling with the second sheet of dough and, with the fingertips, press gently around each mound of filling. Cut the dough into 2-inch squares, miking sure that the dough is firmly scaled around the filling. Cook the ravioli in a large quantity of rapidly boiling salted water for 6 minutes, drain, and serve with pesto.

A large unsweetened pie is especially popular at Eastertime, hence its name torta di pasqua. Also called torta genovese, its stuffing is made of green peas. dropped artichokes, and often other greens, bound together with egg, sour cream, and a gentle savoring of cheese. Around the stuffing are wrapped multiple layers of flaky pastry. When it appears on the table, the different crackling layers of golden brown crust loom over the gold and green stuffing. This recipe uses kale.

Torta di Pasqua

Trim the coarse center stalks from 1 pound of kale. Chop the leaves, sprinkle them with salt, and soak in, water to cover for 2 hours. Drain the kale thoroughly and saute it in 3 tablespoons olive oil with 2 onions, sliced, until the kale is wilted. Stir in 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese.

Combine 1 3/4 cups ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon flour, ¼ cup sour cream, 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan, and 4 eggs, well beaten, and mix well.

Sift 5 cups flour onto a pastry board and make a well in the center. In the well put 2 eggs, lightly beaten, ½ teaspoon salt, and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Gradually work in the flour, adding enough warm water to make a soft dough. Work the dough vigorously, lifting it up and crashing it down on the table until it becomes elastic and cleans the board. Divide the dough into 12 pans and let them stand for 30 minutes covered with a damp cloth. Then, on a lightly floured board, roll each part out into a paper thin rectangle the size of a large oblong baking dish.

Pour a little olive oil on the bottom of the baking dish and place the first layer of dough in the dish. Sprinkle the dough with olive oil or melted butter and place the second sheet of dough on top. Repeat this operation 6 times. Fold the edges of the dough into a firm border.

In a large bowl combine the kale and ricotta mixtures. With a small ladle, indent 8 pockets in this filling mixture. Break an egg into each pocket. sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and olive oil, and dot each egg with a small lump of butter. Cut the eggs gently into the mixture until they are lightly blended with the filling. Turn the filling into the dough lined pan and cover it with the other thin layers of dough, sprinkling each layer with olive oil or melted butter. With a large needle puncture the dough in several plates and bake the torta in a moderate oven (350° F.) for about 45 minutes.

An astonishing ceremonial salad-toend-all-salads, a pyramid of almost everything delectable in Liguria, is known as

Cappon Magro

Make a foundation for the salad with biscuits (wafers) soaked in olive oil and garlic. Add a layer of cooked vegetables a half dozen different ones marinated in French dressing. Then comes the gaudy part of the pyramid. Pile on top of the vegetables poached fish. lobster, shrimp, oysters, and thin slices of octopus, and decorate the fish with anchovy filets, slices of hard-cooked egg, olives, pimiento, capers, baby onions. Now garnish the salad with crisp fresh greens.

A few other specialties of the region are also worthy of note. One is cima di vitello, a lightly seasoned veal galantine. sometimes round, sometimes lozengeshaped. enclosing in the thin wrapping of cooked veal a mixture of hard-cooked eggs, green peas, cubes of meat, and a subtle yellow, custard-like binding. A slice of cima with a green salad makes a handsome entree. It is an admirable dish for a roadside picnic. Add a little fruit, a slab of cheese and a fine flagon of red wine, and your day is made!

Stoccafisso plays a robust role in Genoa. A local writer describes it well: “steeped in milk and drowned in oil. with anchovies and grated walnuts, and served covered with olives and black walnuts.” This is no dish for a timid digestion, but it is a Genoese favorite.

Last but not least of Genoese delicacies is a favorite pastry to be found in almost any pasticceria baci di casella. Two plump little macaroons are held together with a rich chocolate cream, and are totally delicious.

If you don't mind traipsing back to the frontier, here is an abbreviated guided tour along the Ligurian coast, showing due concern for gustatory felicity. Admittedly it touches only a few high spots.


You don't have to travel very far beyond the Customs harrier to find a worthy restaurant in Italy-only a mile or so. Then you come to LA MORTOLA, located in a bend of the road in the village of the same name. It has a fanshaped terrace, well sheltered by awnings, which perches over a precipitous landscape of pines, olive trees and pencil-thin cypresses plunging headlong into the Mediterranean. Its staff is bilingual, its menu widely varied and its cooking excellent. Almost all of its customers are people who are about to motor across the frontier, or have just done so - hence a very cosmopolitan group. The prices seem high in comparison to those prevailing farther inland, but there is no question about the praiseworthy quality of La Mottola.

A glance at the highway markers shows that you are on the Via Aurelia, one of the most famous roads leading to Rome, 426 miles away. It's not new Roman legions used it at the dawn of the Christian era-but new things are being added, especially flowers. Civic pride refers to it as the “ribbon of flowers, ” and much has been done to justify the name. The Via Aurelia continues around bends and hills to shell-pocked, depressing Ventimiglia, in whose dingy railroad station millions of passengers have passed through the Customs. Far more cheerful is Bordighera, even though its Victorian, high-ceilinged hotels seem to belong to a departed glory. Restaurants here are few, and it might be a better plan to have a look at the charming old hill town and proceed to a brighter prospect. It isn't far away.


The most popular pleasure resort on the Italian Riviera truly glitters with superlative hotels. We had lunch at one of them, the ROYAL, and have rarely seen such a beautifully run establishment. Our host was the owner, Signor Bertolini, a courtly, faintly wistful man. He offered us a luncheon which we will never forget-small melons with port, trenette col pesto, chicken cacciatora, zabaione, accompanied by strawberry red Rossesse and a fragrant dessert wine from Asti. It couldn't have been more Italian, or more delicious. Although few of his guests ask for regional dishes, his cooks are overjoyed to prepare them. The Royal has a sumptuous swimming pool, with an outdoor bar, soft music and everything. There can't be many hotels in Europe which outrank San Remo's Royal.

The city itself is a pleasant place, and picturesque in spots. It has an old port, populated by a melange of yachts and fishing boats, an open-air market and a lofty hill town, capped by the usual rococo Church tower. For those who are passing through, there is a good restaurant. AU RENDEZVOUS, on the main street, Via Mattcotti. The Rendezvous is clean, cheerful and well-managed, and rejoices in many regional dishes and wines.


Once in a while the rocky Riviera shore relents and allows a stretch of sandy shore to creep in. Almost automatically this means a summer resort. There are several bathing places along this opalescent crescent, but our choice is unhesitating-the shimmering halfmoon of beach fronting Alassio. The sun worshipper could hardly find a more relaxing place. You can rent a recumbent beach chair, umbrella and a big fuzzy towel for a ridiculously small daily fee. A sailboat, paddle cruiser, or a rubber raft are yours for little more. Alassio is all vacation, all fun. Its cafés are gay, and there is a night club featuring “I Jits-Bops, ” the hottest of the hot.

There are dozens of hotels, each with its own segment of beach, confronting the new arrival. After quite a scouting expedition we chose the HOTEL SAVOIA, and were not disappointed. If is the only one whose dining salon fronts directly on the beach. Its café tables are spread out under an immense fig tree. This is a family hotel, casual, informal and gay. The food is of the best quality-standard Italian dishes and a worthy wine list. The nights are cool and you sleep to the lapping of waves. Alassio has several sea-food restaurants stretched along the shore. We had good luck in the NETTUNO, and later found out that its chef was once an Escoffier pupil in London. You should find Neptune's gifts on the table - sole, triglie, shrimp, and yes, go on and try it-octopus-handsomely prepared here.


The traveler with a thirst for antiquity gets his first good break upon resuming the road to Genoa. Albenga, Alassio's venerable neighbor, merits a brief visit. Several of its medieval fortified rowers are still standing, grim and faintly tipsy. Its churches are intriguing, especially an ancient baptistery whose age can be guessed by the fact that it reposes ten feet below the present street level. beyond Albenga, the shore road loses some of its interest: Industrial towns. rapidly recovering from their war wounds, become prevalent. The Via Aurelia and the electrified railroad ceaselessly fight it out for priority along the shore. The highway usually wins, and the train is obliged to tunnel its way through the cliffs. Once in a while, but not too often, a courageous citizen manages to outwit them both and builds a villa directly on the sea.


Too many travelers, we think, consider Genoa merely as a port to disembark and to escape from as quickly as possible. But there is an adventurous, a picturesque, a gastronomic side to Genoa which really shouldn't be ignored. Since its rise as a seaport many centuries ago, Genoa has faced a fantastic problem in urbanism, for its steep stone cliffs rise almost perpendicularly at the edge of the ancient city which Columbus called home. The enigma which San Francisco was able to solve by cable cars calls for more drastic steps in Genoa. Streets are tunneled under hills, funiculars function frantically and everywhere there are elevators cut in solid rock hoisting hill dwellers to their modern apartments. We urge the traveler with a sense of the good things in life to award a few days to Genoa, and be richly repaid. It is a prosperous city and has some handsome shops, particularly in the neighborhood of the Via Roma. It has a grandiose side, best exhibited on the Via Garibaldi which is choked with immense palaces of the great Genoese families, now utilized by banks, museums and colleges. Its picturesque side is most gratifying of all. The intricate web of tightly-packed streets which trickle down to the waterfront it fascinating, or else we are getting naive. In this neighborhood is the handsome cathedral of San Lorenzo and the house which belonged to Andrea Doria, the Genoese patriot whose name has become known to millions since it was bestowed upon the handsome new Italian liner. The remains of the house where Christopher Columbus spent his youth is only a short walk away.

If there is much to be ferreted out by the sight-seer, the prospect for the discriminating diner is every bit as good. Genoa has impressively good hotels, many of them clustered near the Piazza Acquaverde, which adjoins the bustling Principe railway station. Two of these are the luxurious COLOMBIA-EXCELSIOR and the SAVOIA-MAJESTIC, recently rebuilt on its lofty perch of stone with the added virtue of air conditioning. The best conventional meal we experienced in Genoa was at the HOTEL BRISTOL E PALAZZO, a landmark on the busy, arcaded Via XX Settembre. Our luncheon at the Bristol consisted of paper-thin slices of smoked salmon, consommé, boiled dentice with steamed potatoes, sautéed veal tenderloin with haricots verts, vanilla soufflé, fruit, coffee and a venerable armagnac, all impeccably prepared and served.

If you can hardly go wrong in Genoa's targe hotels, its many restaurants offer a few pitfalls, but, profiting from the advice of a few Genoese bons vivants, we spent considerable time on the subject, and submit four shrines of local gastronomy which merit enthusiastic study. Two are restaurants, and two are content with the modest appellation of trattoria.

RISTORANTE OLIVO - Piazza Raibetta: This animated establishment is just beyond the Sotta Ripa, a vibrant, colorful succession of arcaded waterfront buildings known to countless American sailors. Olivo looks small as you enter, but the vaulted rooms upstairs are extensive enough to hold a large daily quota of local gourmets. The menu, so majestic in scope that it takes considerable study, lists those famous local specialties and a full panorama of ail-Italian dishes. The service is competent and the head waiters have more than a smattering of French and English at their command. A good wine list and very fair prices help to make Olivo one of the most satisfactory experiences in Genoa.

VITTORIO-Ristorante al Mare-Genova-Boccadasse: Famed for its sea food, this attractive restaurant is perched over a fishing village which has been absorbed in Genoa's growing perimeter. It has an indoor glassed-in salon and an own ing-sheltered terrace. The waiter assumes you come for fish, and automatically puts a cool bottle of white wine on the table. We began with a lasagne al forno and then plunged into a fritto misto pesce which included shrimp, langoustines, whitebait, baby octopus and several denizens of the deep we couldn't identify-but they were delectable. The clientele is gay and cosmopolitan. But the best thing about Vittorio is still the view-the powder-blue hills converging to the pale promontory of Portofino, the multicolored little fishing port of Boccadasse (Monkeymouth) and its gossiping fishermen. It's almost as good as the Bay of Naples.

One last touch brightens the ceremony of the bill-it is held down by glasses of liqueur on the house. The prices are somewhat above the ordinary. meaning that it costs almost half as much, wine included, as the same category of restaurant in New York.

TRATTORIA MARIO-52-40 Via dei Conservatori del Mare: You can't get much closer to the heart of Genoa than this trattoria in a side street near the Piazza Banchi, just off the waterfront. It is famous among the discriminating devotees of Genoese cooking. One glance at the prosperous, well-rounded businessmen who make up almost its entire clientele, and you have no misgivings about the menu. It is top-heavy with succulent local specialties: ravioli, zuppa di pesce, minestrone, gamberi, stoccafisso, cima di vitello, right down the line. Its atmosphere is informal, amusing, rather noisy and absolutely genuine. Your bill is small, your satisfaction complete. Mario has had such success that he is moving to larger quarters nearby, the address given above.

TRATTORIA RINA-Mura delle Grazie: On a little side street overlooking the harbor is another kind of trattoria, a family affair, cheerful and democratic. Within a quarter of an hour of the time you are met by the host, a smiling, solicitous man named Augusto, you begin to feel like a member of the family. Six-year-old daughter proudly shows you her art work. Older daughter and blackeyed son, in shirt sleeves and apron, wait on the table. Augusto proudly shows you his guest book. In the meantime, a formidable meal gets under way. We had been told what to expect. First came bianchetti, whitebait, with a savory sauce, each miniscule white fish casting a reproachful blue eye at us. Then lasagne col pesto, the classic pasta dish, followed by pesce ai ferri, a trim little fish boned and sautéed in an iron pan, and a salad of raw baby artichokes. thinly sliced with French dressing. For dessert-banane ai ferri, oranges and bananas cooked under a flame with sugar and kirsch, followed by coffee and, as a final surprise, Auguste's “minestrone, ” which turns out to be an exotic melange of liqueurs.


A favorite Sunday pastime of thousands of Genoese is to stroll along the sea walk in this civilized suburb six miles away, or to visit the extraordinary botanical gardens of its Villa Gropallo. In contrast to the bustle of the city, sylvan Nervi seems serenely quiet. Of the several restful hotels and pensions here we have a strong favorite, the HOTEL SAVOIA-BEELER, a roomy and immaculate Swiss hotel overlooking the sea. Its garden is a prodigal miscellany of palm, olive, fig and orange trees, mimosa and cactus, with dozens of shaded bowers for guests. The cuisine is “international” with Italian overtones, and excellent. The wine list is filled with the best of Italian vintages, almost all listed at under a dollar a bottle.

The coastal path eastward from Nervi skirts some highly picturesque fishing villages-Bogliasco, Sori and Camogli, the latter being irresistibly sketchable. Over the hill lie a trio of famous resorts, popular both winter and summer.


The first of these is a seaport which has pretty much ceased to exploit fish and now capitalizes on its balmy climate and good harbor to attract yachtsmen. honeymooners and mere vacationists. Personally, we find it more attractive than its much vaunted neighbor. Rapallo. Villas and “palaces” dot its hillsides. but the town remains simple, hospitable and inexpensive. You have a choice of fairly luxurious hotels on the hillside or simple ones in town. As for restaurants, we tried one called the BRIGANTINO at the eastern end of the palmy promenade, and found it very acceptable.


A musty old Baedeker from the 1920s describes Portofino as a quaint, half-forgotten fishing port which can be reached by horse and buggy from Santa Margherita. It's far from “halfforgotten” now! People flock there and the local population is waiting for them with homemade lace, table linen, straw bars, espadrilles and postcards. A smiling signorina offers to bedeck you with garlands of hazelnuts or walnuts or almonds strung together, and it is difficult to refuse such comestible ornament. The little port, hemmed in by olive-clad hills, is just about as it always was, and colorful to a fantastic degree. It is a riot, an explosion, of Latin color, and the amateur photographer is almost beside himself with eagerness to catch it all. Local fishermen pose obligingly for him, as do the old ladies making lace. The inquiring gastronome meets with plenty of seductive setups. There are several open-air restaurants along the quais, each shouting temptations on signboards: Frutti di Mare! Zuppa di Pesce! Ravioli! Lasagne col Pesto! As so often happens, the song is sweeter than the bird. The food and service are only fair, but the color and atmosphere are so engaging, and the passing throng so extraordinary that it shouldn't be missed.

High above the old port and dug into the olive-clad slope is the HOTEL SPLENDIDO. It is no news to well-traveled Americans that this lofty shrine of good living has a standard of cuisine, service and comfort in keeping with its view of the Tigullian Gulf, which is breathtaking.


So many glittering paragraphs have been written about Rapallo and its horseshoe bay that we hesitate to say more. It's a hotelman's heaven, patronized the year round by well-upholstered foreigners. It is the darling of the movie stars-even Garbo smiled at a photographer here-and probably the most relaxed place on the Riviera. Ob drivers doze in their open-air landaus. Italian honeymooners hold hands, and deaf ladies on cafe terraces read Agatha Christie's latest. The people who really seem to be enjoying Rapallo are the children riding in pony cans. Rapallo has wonderful hotels and plenty of inexpensive pensions and restaurants. Its best known shrine of gastronomy. DA FAUSTO, was closed when we came through in the off-season, so we can't tell you how divine it is. But the cinema colony can.


Just as the coastal highway turns inland to do some mountain climbing, there is one more charming spot along the shore. Sestri Levants has a pleasant harbor, a beach, and more space to move around in than most places. It has an epicurean specialty of its own. too. Oiled ciuppin, it is an Italian version of bouillabaisse. We tried it at the RISTORANTE MIRA and came away starry-eyed, hopeful that Tuscany, our next goal, could offer a piscatorial melange as fragrant.