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21 April 2024
Alan Morris at the beach at Noli, Liguria, Italy.

Today I woke up in the port of Savona in Italy ready to take a coach trip to the villages of Noli & Finalborgo.

Savona, Noli, Finalborgo.

I woke up around 7 am today, I showered & then went for breakfast in one of the ship's buffets as we pulled into the port of Savona. Today I took an escorted coach tour to the two villages of Noli & Finalborgo, Noli on the coast & Finalborgo inland in the mountains.

The coach was due to leave at 9 am & I was sitting on the coach by 8:45 am. Typically many people strolled down to the coach late & the coach didn't leave until around 9:20 am.

Noli, Liguria, Italy.

We were soon driving along the coast road to our first stop at Noli. The road was winding & narrow & in places, there were road works or places where rock falls were being cleared. We were told by our very knowledgeable guide that originally the only way to access Noli was by boat. We passed by some beautiful coastal villages as we approached Noli, this part of the coast really is fantastic, I already wanted to come back to visit here again.

Once we reached Noli the coach dropped us off & our guide showed us the buildings along the roadside explaining that they formed part of the walls of the village. She then took us across the road to the beach where fishermen launched their small boats from the beach to fish. The bay & coastline here was truly breathtaking. After taking time to take photos & look at what the fisherman had caught that morning we crossed back across the road to approach the gates to the walled village.

Our guide then walked us through the main gates to Noli & showed us around the village all too briefly. I instantly fell in love with this tiny village & plan to put visiting this village & spending more time here on my bucket list. Our guide told us much of the history of Noli & showed us memorial stones on the inside of the village walls dedicated to some of the people that had lived there throughout its history.

Whilst in the Oratorio di Sant'Anna, I lit two candles in memory of my mum & dad. I am not a religious person in any way at all but I do like to light a candle in their memory wherever I go on my travels, it was the two of them that first gave me my travel bug after all. After our short walk through the first part of the village we are led back to the coach & we are taken on to Finalborgo.

  View my photos from Noli.

Noli history.

Noli was the ancient centre of the Ligurians, it was a Roman municipality. In the Middle Ages, it was a Byzantine base. Official documents of the eleventh century give an account of it with the name of Naboli. After passing into the hands of the Longobards who destroyed it in 641, it was completely rebuilt on the seashore.

Later converted into an important maritime centre, it participated in 1097 in the First Crusade, for which it received political privileges, but above all commercial privileges from the King of Jerusalem, Baldwin I, the feudal lord Boeth I, of Antioch & Tancred of Sicily. It became the property of Bonifacio del Vasto.

After its constitution as a free municipality in 1187, it was a fief of Henry II Del Carretto in 1193 until its constitution as an independent Republic. The Republic of Noli established important alliances with the Republic of Genoa in 1202, with which it fought against Pisa for commercial supremacy in the Tyrrhenian Sea & against Venice for maritime traffic in the Middle East.

Pressed between the municipalities of Savona & Finale Ligure, the former fief of the Marquis Del Carretto, it was equipped with fortifications & some seventy city towers that enclosed the village in a wall.

The Republic of Noli in the eighteenth century became the object of the expansionist ambitions of the Dukes of Savoy, although it managed to remain allied to the Republic of Genoa. Occupied by Napoleonic troops in 1797, despite the heavy naval bombardment by the English fleet in 1795 against the French, it signed the new constitution that decreed the end of the Republic becoming part of the Ligurian Republic & the First French Empire, until its entry into the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1815. In 1861 it became part of the Kingdom of Italy.

Finalborgo, Liguria, Italy.

Our second & final stop on the tour was Finalborgo. It was only a short drive from Noli & we again passed through some beautiful coastal villages on our way inland to Finalborgo. The coach dropped us in a small car park outside of Finalborgo & we walked the very short walk across the river to the walls of the village before going through to the village.

Unfortunately, many of the people on the coach were all asking to be shown a public toilet that they could use. The tour was held up for no other reason than for many people to use the toilet. Even our tour guide was getting fed up waiting for everybody & after what seemed like nearly an hour everybody was ready to continue. Because of the delay our guide only had a brief time to show us the outside of the village walls & the main road entering the village through the fortified walls. She was able to point out a castle on the mountainside that was built by its once-Spanish rulers before telling us that we had 40 minutes to explore & to get back to the coach to return to the ship.

I did manage to have a very quick walk around the first part of the village, taking photos & again planning to come back again for another visit sometime in the future. I had noticed that the cafes & bars were all advertising coffee & sandwiches at quite high prices & whilst most of the coach was queuing up to pay inflated prices for food, I walked back to a community centre that I had seen whilst everybody was using the toilet. The food & coffee here was very cheap & I had seen it sold my favourite Ginseng coffee as I passed by. I sat outside in a courtyard & was quickly served my Ginseng coffee. Realising I still had long enough for another coffee I ordered a cappuccino. Unfortunately for me, the majority of the staff were disabled & a little bit slow. The waiter took my order for cappuccino & my money but never returned with my drink. After waiting for a while I realised he wasn't coming back & had to go inside with the receipt & ask the lady running the community centre for my drink. She called another waiter who very slowly made me a beautiful cappuccino but by the time I got it, I had to gulp it down quickly & immediately return to the bus for the return journey to the ship. That said if you ever get to go to Finalborgo, go to the community centre & try a Ginseng Coffee, it is to die for.

  View my photos from Finalborgo.

Finalborgo history.

The town was developed in the hinterland of Finale. It was not built directly on the sea so that it would be more protected against possible Saracen landings on the coast. It was built in an easily defensible place at the confluence of the Aquila Stream with the Pora Stream, whose riverbeds constituted a single natural moat. It was later reinforced by the city walls, which defended the town on the east, south & west sides, while the northern side of the country was naturally protected from the spur of the Becchignolo hill, which over the centuries was fortified with the construction of Castel Gavone on the top, & from a connecting tower halfway up the coast later incorporated into the fortress of Castel San Giovanni.

Between 1142 & 1148 the Marquis Enrico I Del Carretto, known as Il Guercio inherited from his father, Bonifacio del Vasto, the territory of the March of Savona. of which he obtained the investiture from Frederick Barbarossa on 10 June 1162.

Towards the end of the twelfth century, Enrico II Del Carretto began to use the title of Marquis of Finale & surrounded the urban nucleus with walls, giving rise to the "burgus Finarii", today's Finalborgo. The Del Carretto family ruled the Marquis of Finale until 1602. The town then came under Habsburg rule until 1713. In this period the Marquis of Finale was an indispensable stopover to transfer the Spanish troops to the Milanese domains without having to ask the permission of Genoa & to bring goods without paying taxes.

With the extinction of the Habsburg-Spain, the Marquis of Finale was ceded to the Genoese, & Finalborgo lost importance. The Republic of Genoa held the Marquis of Finale in fief with mixed fortunes until 1797 when the feudal legislation was cancelled & the Ligurian Republic was established. Finale, therefore, was incorporated first in the Ligurian Republic & then in the First French Napoleonic Empire, under which the districts of Borgo, Pia & Marina were temporarily united in a single administration & included in the newly constituted Department of Montenotte.

After the Restoration, the Ligurian Republic passed under the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1814 & then after the Unification of Italy, into the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. In 1877 the suppressed municipality of Perti was aggregated into the municipality of Finalborgo. Finalborgo remained an independent municipality until 1927 when the three municipalities of Finalborgo, Finalmarina & Finalpia were merged to form the municipality of Finale Ligure.

Port of Savona.

On our way back to the Port of Savona our guide told us more history of the region & about the Port of Savona.

The Port is a cruise terminal built in Savona, co-financed by Costa Cruises which is also the operator. Inaugurated on November 24, 2003, it was designed by architect Ricardo Bofill. The building has an area of 8,400 m² distributed over 3 floors, of which 5,000 m² for departing passengers. On the 8th of November 2014, on the occasion of the first port of call of Costa Diadema, the second terminal of the Port also came into operation, for which the company invested about 9 million euros. On the 14th of November 2019, terminal 1 & the quay underwent major renovations to allow the landing of the flagship Costa Smeralda.

Back on the Costa Diadema.

After returning to the ship I went for a quick shower but when I went to my room I found that my escorted tour tomorrow to see Civita Di Bagnoregio had been cancelled in English due to a lack of guests. They were able to let me go on the French/Italian tour & as I really wanted to see this village I changed my booking to go on the tour in a different language.

I then went to dinner where I met Gail. We were joined by an Argentinian gentleman who spoke no English but who did speak a spattering of Italian & Spanish & who sat with us for dinner for the rest of our cruise.   View today's menu here.

For my dinner tonight I had cheese flan with honey & hazelnuts, leak & potato soup, braised beef with mashed potato & mushroom sauce & hazelnut cake for dessert. The flan was gorgeous, the soup nothing special, my leek & potato soup is better. The braised beef was not very good at all & the hazelnut cake was very dry & I could not swallow it because it was so dry.

After dinner, Gail & I met Val in the Teadora lounge for a few cocktails & to listen to the band that was playing. At one point Gail went to see what tonight's show in the Emerald Theatre was like but she soon came back, reporting to us that it wasn't worth leaving where we were to go & see. We sat chatting for a while over cocktails but as I had a long day planned for tomorrow I left Gail & Val & went back to my cabin for an early night. Today's exertions had worn me out.

  Photos from the Costa Diadema this evening.