Colors, fragrances, flavors: thus Imperia and its valleys introduce themselves to the traveler. Here the blue of the sea alternates with the green of the Mediterranean brushwood, the rainbow of flowers with the pastel shades of the fishermen houses and the gray hues of the stones of the ancient medieval villages. A special land, with a very mild climate, unique, protected in the north by the Maritime Alps and open, in the south, to the pleasant sea breeze, solace of sunny beaches in every season of the year. The fragrance of saltiness can be breathed along the coast as well as along the valleys, cultivated with olive groves and vineyards, blending itself with the intense, even though delicate scent of the flowers in the open air and in the green-houses.
The landscape alternates sandy beaches with suggestive cliffs at a sheer drop to the sea, grouped fishermen villages with vivacious and lively cities. Behind the coast, the mountains, as far up as the 2,200 m of Mount Saccarello, the highest peak of Liguria, create natural environments of sudden amazement and suggestion. Only in a few other areas of Italy man’s intervention has been so intense and capillary throughout the centuries as in the hinterland valleys of Liguria. Here, the cultivation of olive trees has deeply modified the natural landscape by terracing land strips, mule tracks and paths, works of men’s talent and outcome of a colossal labor. The technical building peculiarities adopted, handed down from father to son, from generation to generation, give the valleys its today’s clearly evident distinctive feature: dry stone walls, hanging and hollowed steps, passages connecting terraced land strips, kilometers and kilometers of mule tracks to join the bottom of the valley to the mountain, paved with cobblestones in the flatlands and with squared-off stone steps in the most unapproachable places.
For centuries the production of olive oil had been the only real richness of the valleys. Today, with the revaluation of the Mediterranean diet, the olive oil has found again its rightful place on the national and international markets. In the valleys of Imperia, one aims above all to quality in order to obtain an extravirgin olive oil, with a delicate and smooth bouquet, with a highly reduced acidity, the most qualified to accompany raw vegetables and fish. Today, by discovering again the “Mediterranean diet”, olive oil has gained its rightful position on the market and in the kitchen, especially in the cooking done in the LigurianPonente. It is a simple cooking with lean products, where red meats and animal fats are almost absent, however, of great fantasy, richness and variety of raw materials. Genuine dishes, kitchen garden vegetables, spontaneous aromatic herbs fresh fish , poultry meat, all elaborated with experienced and intelligent techniques, with no monotony. A real and true art, unrepeatable, inspired by criteria of economy and parsimony, a sign of ancient culture that reflects the reserved character of the people and the hardness of the land.
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