We talked to a luxury lifestyle and travel PR, based in Milan, but hailing back from the seaside town of Varrazze: meet Giacomo Addario.
All those who are born in a town close to the sea always seem to agree on one thing: everywhere you go, it will always somehow leave you a trace of itself in you, luring you back to it at least once or twice per year. Although now Milan-based, luxury lifestyle and travel PR Giacomo Addario holds his Ligurian roots close to the heart. Here, the travel expert tells us all about his native region and the places one should visit in Italy’s Western Riviera.
We know you’re from Varazze. What significance does this place have for you?
Exactly, it’s my hometown and I’ve lived there since I was 18. I have a relationship of hate and love with Varazze and at this moment it’s all about love. Thanks to this particular historical period I had the opportunity to live in my region for a long time discovering that Liguria is not only the sea but also magic inland.
How has it been growing up in a town near the seaside? Did it influence your interest in your job in PR management in the luxury hotel business?
Growing up here it was magical. I often wonder what it feels like to see the sea for the first time because I was born in front of it, and it grew up with me. A very strong bond is created between the sea and those born here. But growing up in Liguria is also limiting if you have a minimum of professional aspiration. That’s why I moved to Milan, where I live and work and yes, coming from a small place on the Italian Riviera led me to my job, and maybe in a far future, I will open a kind of hotel here! Who knows?
Can you tell us about your favourite places in town?
I have a few. Certainly, everything that is in contact with nature. Varazze is strategically located between a mountainous massif that reaches 1300 msl and the coast, rocky and jagged, full of inlets with crystal clear water. If I have to choose I would say pine forest on Monte Beigua and some inlets in Lungomare Europa.
What are your favourite places on the west coast of Liguria?
As I told before, the magic of Liguria also stands in its inland. The western part of Liguria is full of small villages where it is worth taking a tour, certainly unknown to most but with great charm. Bussana Vecchia, Apricale, Verezzi and Sassello are small old villages where you can find the magic in every corner. On the coastline, I absolutely love Cervo, with the facade of its church that stands out between the roofs and overlooks the Ligurian Sea and Varigotti for its colourful houses, the flowers that embellish them and the fact that they’re right on the beach. Close to Varigotti, there is the Baia dei Saraceni, the best spot for a dip in crystal clear water.
The best dolce vita spots?
Well, we have Portofino! The wonderful gardens surrounding Belmond Hotel Splendido and its view on the small harbour of Portofino is the best place to breathe Dolce Vita. Having a drink here takes you to the heart of Dolce Vita.
Considering most people end up going to Liguria during the summer because it is quite close to the main cities and also very beautiful - where would you suggest we start for an adventurous tour far from the crowds?
Inland is the answer! During weekends, for example, when crowds invade the coast, I like to escape to the Beigua Regional Park, a Unesco Geopark a few minutes away from Varazze where you can enjoy wild nature, nice villages, fresh mountain breeze and good food. Especially in Sassello you have to try the typical Amaretti.
The coves, caves and beaches you can only reach by foot or by boat/canoe?
I have some favorite spots for crystal clear water and wild nature: Isola di Bergeggi, Punta Crena in Varigotti, the 4 km of coast on Lungomare Europa in Varazze and Punta Chiappa.
The best place where you can grab a great greasy focaccia Ligure?
Let's open a debate! I have two “forni” that I really love in Varazze for the classical plain focaccia ligure: Colombo, for greasy and soft focaccia and Campo di Grano for a crispy one. If you come to Liguria do not forget the Focaccia di Recco, with creamy prescinsêua – a typical Ligurian cheese – and chickpeas farinata.
Your favourite places where one can have something to eat?
La Brinca a Ne, above Chiavari, where traditional Ligurian cuisine is the queen of the table. Il Cappero a Verezzi, a truly magical place with a view that sweeps over the Riviera di Ponente to the island Gallinara. On the seaside? O Spadin in Punta Chiappa, close to Camogli.
The places to stay if you don’t own an apartment? Cute boutique hotels or intimate little nooks near the coast?
In the extreme western part of Liguria, in Borgomaro, I suggest Relais del Maro, for a charming escape in the inland of Liguria.
The best ricetta ligure?
Oh it's going to be tough! How much time do we have?
Ligurian recipes are healthy, light, full of seasonal vegetables and of course, a lot of fish. Beside pesto - which runs through my veins and I love to eat it as a seasoning for Mandilli de Saea (a typical Ligurian type of pasta called Mandilli that in Ligurian means Napkins, de Saea - made with silk) - i love the traditional polpettone ligure made with potatoes and green beans plus a bunch of marjoram (every recipe here in Liguria has it!), eggs and parmesan cheese or Brandacujun, a very typical way to prepare and cook the stockfish with potatoes, taggiasca olives, tomatoes and fine herbs. Super creamy and tasty.
The best sagra and tradition?
No matter where but with a local only! Go to a sagra with a ligure and you will enjoy every single meal, music and dance under the olive trees on summer nights. This year unfortunately no sagra is allowed but if you suddenly bump into one do not lose the chance to try typical fügassette, stuffed vegetables, or whatever the sagra is specialized in. A tradition? The "lancio dello stoccafisso": every last weekend of January in Cantalupo (Varazze) takes place this game where stockfish literally flies. It's also the occasion to taste one of the best Buridda di Stoccafisso ever, another ligurian recipe of course!