An inspiration for French Impressionists and the European jetset, the Italian Riviera had a well-earned reputation for summer romance and late-night decadence - until the 2008 financial crisis curbed the spending habits of the glitterati. Worse, Italians stayed home and have been reluctant to return.
In an attempt to put the strip back on the map this European summer, six hotels along the Ligurian coast between Savona and Sanremo, near the French border, have formed a "Fascinating Resorts" alliance. Included are Palazzo Vescovile near Noli, the home of Savona bishops for six centuries; the 16th-century Palazzo Fieschi at Savignone; and two elegant villas with Med views: Villa della Pergola at Alassio and Hotel Punta Est at Finale Ligure. In the hinterland is La Meridiana, a rural haven at Garlenda with a top restaurant and an 18-hole golf course, and Il Casale, a country resort near Finale Ligure.
Liguria is much more than a string of beaches, says La Meridiana co-owner Alessandra Segre.
"Here we offer an ancient culture, great food like olive oil, fresh vegetables, wine and pesto, as well as plenty of ways to have fun. We want people to discover the region, not just the sea."
The hotel alliance is backed by regional authorities and aims to attract travellers interested in local cuisine, golf, hiking and mountain biking, as well as swimming and sailing.
Related link: our travel guide to Italy's Riviera di Ponente.