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Golf Italy: Coast of Portofino to the French Border

Stay and play in Liguria. Exploring the small region in the north-western part of Italy is a slow trip along the Mediterranean coastline. The sea on one side, hills and mountains on the other; rocks and beaches, small fishing villages and medieval hamlets are all around on the road along the coast. The Italian Riviera tastes good, with a mix of sea breeze and scent of flowers, olive and lemon trees. The olive oil industry is a strong tradition here, a matter of pride, an expertise and a business for the region, which is blessed by a mild climate on the coast even in wintertime. Perfect for golf too.

Tradition, charm, challenging holes and warm hospitality describe golf in Liguria. With a 19th hole full of genuine flavours and local dishes that you can taste on a terrace overlooking the sea. On the table, homemade pasta (trofie, trenette, pansotti) with pesto (basil leaves and olive oil for the king of sauces). The room is not far from the first tee. Liguria Golf Destination suggests the best of hospitality with three 5* hotels. Glamour and perfect services, facing the sea or the course. Recognized by top hôtellerie families as Leading Hotels of the World, Legend Preferred Hotels or Relais & Châteaux, they can offer guests revisited old splendors or the small dimension of a charming retreat. Each one is a memorable experience.

Either way, the trip can start in Genova (Italy) or in Nice (France). Both airports are very well served by international airlines. Spending a one-week vacation and moving forward every two days to a new course and hotel, is the perfect travel timing to go deep inside many experiences. Slow rhythm, relaxed atmosphere, golfing and much more. Do not forget to take a cooking class and learn how to make homemade pesto. Devote some time to visit Genova, getting lost in the tight alleys of the old town. Walk around one of the many medieval villages as Dolceacqua (Sanremo) or Cervo (Garlenda), and make a stop in the quiet Laigueglia (Garlenda) or in the world-renowned Portofino (Rapallo). Shop in the brand new Sanremo Mall. Visit a «frantoio» and see how olives are transformed in top quality extra vergine oil. Taste the best expression of the Mediterranean diet. Bike along the Via Julia Augusta or the high paths overlooking the sea. And do not leave without trying your luck at the famous Casinò di Sanremo.


TO PLAY: Circolo Golf e Tennis Rapallo

Few meters from the highway, the entrance is just in the middle of the small sea town. The 18 holes climb on the hills behind, offering plenty of dog legs, uphill fairways and tee-shots from above. The course requires strategy more than long distance, and good recovery skills. Since the opening in 1931, and thanks to the mild climate, a lush vegetation has grown all around with beeches and chestnuts, acacias, eucalyptus and palms. Simple elegance, glamour and famous guests have played here such as Rita Hayworth, Bob Hope and Bill Gates.

TO STAY: Excelsior Palace Hotel

For the legendary hotel (and first Italian Casino), history begins in 1901 on the cliffs overlooking the blue sea of the coast of Portofino, surrounding the hotel on three sides. A 5 stars deluxe, close to the Rapallo marina, the Excelsior is located few steps away from Portofino. An elegant ambiance, with 119 rooms and plenty of options to taste Italian food and wine; the private beach, two panoramic pools, the Health Club and Spa. Among the eminent guests enjoying the Excelsior luxury services in the years, the Duke of Windsor, Bruce Springsteen and George Clooney.


TO PLAY: Golf Club Garlenda

British style and Mediterranean taste, both on the course and in club house. The 18 holes, signed by John Morrison and John Harris, are in play since 1964 and wind across the wide valley of river Lerrone. Olive trees and umbrella pines shape the course and suggest the strategy; all around hills and woods, hamlets and villas. After golf, guests can enjoy a swimming pool and a fully equipped gym. Garlenda is inland of the ancient Albenga (famous for its well-preserved medieval center) and of the colored sea town of Alassio.

TO STAY: La Meridiana Hotel & Golf Resort

A Relais & Chateaux since 1979, La Meridiana is set in the countryside just 4 miles from the sea of Alassio, with the Garlenda golf course on site. Alessandra and Edmondo Segre, the owners,receive their guests since 1983. Different styles for the 26 rooms and a trip through the Mediterranean cuisine in two restaurants (Rosmarino and Bistrot) with a collection of the best Italian wines. Dogs are welcome. Available, tailored visits to Liguria and Piedmont; private helipad (services provided by Heli Air Monaco); a business aviation hub, the Riviera Airport, one mile away.                          


TO PLAY: Circolo Golf Degli Ulivi

A par 69 course not overly long, with most par 4’s easily reached with two shots. Not ideal for long hitters, but on the other hand requiring considerable technical ability. Missing the green could be an adventure. The club is there since 1932 (among the first in Italy). The club house dominates, 160 mt. high on the sea. Inside, boiseries and trophies show a long golf tradition, while a wide terrace is perfect to dine in the summer. Golf was played in the area by English visitors as far back as 1901.                  

TO STAY: Royal Hotel Sanremo

Luxury, intimacy and relaxation are to be found in the exclusive 5-star hotel. Inaugurated in 1872, rich in history and tradition, it has been home of royalties and celebrities. Timeless elegance and modern comforts in the 127 rooms, all individually decorated. The Fiori di Murano restaurant offers panoramic views and precious glass-flower chandeliers. A candlelit dinner is served on the terrace overlooking the sea at Il Giardino. The heated sea-water pool is set in a subtropical park. The Spa is a true Royal Wellness oasis.