Albenga Travel Guide

Visit a City on the Italian Riviera with Medieval Towers

Why go to Albenga? There's lots to like, from the historic center's many medieval towers to the lively little slingshot museum that feeds a tradition of folks who've commited acts of kindness without having been asked.

The city has many other attractions to be sure, but unlike many resort towns along the coast, it's not a dreary, forlorn site after the crowds have gone. Albegna is a year-round city you can enjoy whenever you have a hankering to go.

Albenga, a city of roughly 24,000 residents, is found along the coast in the Ligurian province of Savona. It offers some of the best beaches along the riviera, and they're populated not only with vacationers and foreigners but by locals as well.

Albenga, called the "town of 100 towers"

At one time, Albenga was all prickly with medieval towers, like San Gimignano, the taller the tower, the richer the owner. Only 12 remain, but they're all in pretty good shape. Along with many churches and a fifth century babtistry, they make the historic center a very evocative place to visit. The building under the towers on the left is the paleochristian Babtistery.

Albenga Battistero, The Paleochristian Baptistery

Built in the 5th century, the baptistery is the oldest building in Albenga. Don't miss it; it's the star attraction. And It's still being used for baptisimal cerimonies, our visit was delayed by one. You'll see the original, full-immersion baptisimal font as you walk in. Then you'll see the rest from over the many years the baptistery has been in use.

According to Wikipedia:

The niche with late-Roman Empire Christian mosaics depicts an Alpha-Omega within three concentric circles symbolizing the Trinity, and surrounded by 12 doves symbolizing the apostles who disseminated the teachings under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Finally two sheep stand in a field around a cross. The Latin inscription of the arch recalls relics held in the church.
albenga baptistery

Special Foods, Ingredients From Around Albenga

The key word here is Violet. In the spring you'll find Violet Asparagus. According to

The Violet d'Albenga asparagus is a unique variety in the world, in fact it has a particular genetic characteristic: having 40 chromosomes instead of 20 like all other asparagus, the Violet cannot cross with other varieties and thus its purity is preserved. The alluvial soils of the Albenga plain are perfect for cultivation, thanks to the deep sandy and silty layer and the microclimate. 

Violet is also found in the local spiny artichoke. Known as the "Violetto Spinoso di Albenga" it can be eaten raw. You'll find it in risottos and omelettes. 

Oxheart tomatoes are also a speciality of Albegna. They've been selected for certain characteristic by Ligurian farmers. They make great salad tomatoes. Current production of the bue d'Albegna tomato is about 2,000 tons. 

The long Trombetta Zucchini, also found in southern France, is used in a unique local dish that is called a "polpettone" that is a variation of the dish found in other parts of Italy. Try Polpettone di Albegna if you can find it. 

Coniglio, or rabbit, is a signature dish of Liguria, but the local version is called Coniglio alla Salasca. Salea, a small town near Albegna is credited with the tradition of this dish that is especially savored for the all-important Sunday lunch in Italy.

The characteristic elements of the Saleasca rabbit recipe are the Pigato d'Albenga , a wine characteristic of the area, used to blend the meat, the use of Cognac, the use of only three aromatic herbs, chilli pepper, the exclusion of onion. but, of course, what makes the difference is the cooking method and the pot that is used which must be strictly a terracotta saucepan that was used exclusively for the rabbit and was washed, after use, rinsing it only with water. -- DE.CO Products: Municipal Denominations of Origin


churches of albenga
The Churches of Albenga

The photo above shows the Chiesa di Santa Maria Fontibus on the right. The most interesting parts of this church are what you can see outside: The 13th central portal. The church was rebuilt in the 14th, 17th and 20th century.

The more interesting church is the Cattedrale San Michele Arcangelo, shown behind and to the left. It features a ceiling with 19th century frescos. 

Top Museums in Albenga

The Museo Navale Romano, or the Roman Ships Museum, offers a look at the excavation of a single roman ship found off the coast of nearby Gallinaria Island. Located inside the Palazzo Peloso Cepolla, the exhibits contain a hundred wine amphorae, as well as pottery and fishing gear. Not as extensive as the Pisa Roman Ship Museum, the small museum takes a half hour to see. [Museum Ticket Office]. At time of writing, the museum is closed for permanent renovations.

You can get combined tickets for the Civic Museum and the Battistero (babtisery) in the little ticket office across from the Battistero. Read about it or buy tickets online on this page.

The Diocesan Museum of Albenga is located inside the Bishop's palace, inside you'll find objects of early Christians, medieval paintings and sixteenth century tapestries and statues, as well as the palace rooms itself. 

And then there are slingshots, fionde in Italian. Most call the little room with many slingshots dangling from the ceiling a "museum" but really it's a cooperative. 

glingshot museum Albegna

Gino telling tourists about the slingshot collection in the little room. He likes it if you speak Italian, because he doesn't do English.

The Slingshot Cooperative

(A local author told us that the slingshot tradition in Albenga derived from an incident in which two boys held off Napoleon's solders with a slingshot. I can't confirm this story.)

Gino Contributes a slingshot each year to “those who in life have pulled metaphorical slings in favor of the weak and marginalized, those who fight against the abuses and hypocrisy.”

The museum is at the end of a little alley in the historic center, Vicolo del Collegio.

Where to stay in Albenga

Guiseppe at the Hotel Ricaroka

We stayed at a wonderful hotel, the recently renovated Ricaroka. It's a very short walk to the historic center of Albenga and the host is really a host, Giuseppe knows the town and traditions and is quick to offer a drink and a gab. That's him at the Ricaroka bar on the right.

The restaurant is one of the best here, for "value and tradition" according to a bar owner we spoke to. Unfortunately, we were so taken by the historic center of Albenga we didn't make it to our own hotel for dinner and ate a so-so meal near the duomo. So, stay here and eat at the restaurant and tell us about the experience! 

If an apartment in Albenga is more to your travel style (and a longer visit is recommended) try one of these vacation rentals by VRBO

How to Get to Albegna

Albegna is in the Savona Province of Liguria and has a very important train station, the Stazione Ferroviaria di Albenga, on the Genova-Ventimiglia railway that runs along the coast of Italy. On the train from Albenga you can reach Genoa in an hour and three minutes, Milan Centrale in 2 hours and 50 minutes and to Nice, France in a little over two hours.

Albenga is along the A10 Autostrada that runs from Ventimiglia to Genoa.

Other Destinations in Liguria

Cinque Terre and the Trails La Spezia Map and Guide Ancient Luni, a Roman Marble Port Noli, (another) Italian Riviera Gem

More Italy Travel Planning Resources