Ultimate Guide to the Liguria Wine Region

Liguria Wine Region History and Culture

The landscape has helped breed a Ligurian culture of self-reliance. High ­ mountains separate Liguria from much of the rest of Italy, making it relatively inaccessible by land. The ocean has historically meant freedom as well as income, and it creates a warm climate more similar to southern regions of Italy than to neighboring Tuscany [source: Demitri].

Since before the Roman Empire, Liguria's people have been known for their independence. Although Rome attempted to conquer the region, small pockets of local resistance persisted for centuries in places such as Cinque Terre [source: Travel to Liguria]. And the residents of Genoa, the capital city, fought strenuously for liberation before the Allied army arrived at the end of World War II.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Liguria remained relatively independent from subsequent Byzantine and Lombard rule. Independence was a double-edged sword, however. Liguria largely had to rely on its own defenses when pirates such as Saracens and Normans attacked the coast [source: Demitri].

The port city of Genoa was a prominent city-state in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. It had rivalries -- and sometimes all-out wars -- with Pisa and Venice. During these wars Genoa captured the explorer Marco Polo; he dictated his famed account of his travels to China in a Genoese prison [source: Travel to Liguria]. Another famed explorer, Christopher Columbus, was born in Genoa. Visitors can still see his house [source: Demitri].

The Napoleonic Empire finally ended Genoa's dominance. After Napoleon's defeat in 1814, Liguria was handed over to the House of Savoy and Sardinia [source: Travel to Liguria]. Perhaps it was frustration with the shift in power that motivated two native Ligurians, Garibaldi and Mazzini, to start the Risorgimento -- the movement for Italian unification that culminated in the 1860s with the nation of Italy [source: Coppa].

So how does Liguria's independence affect its viticulture? Read on.