Liguria is Italy's third smallest region in land area, though also the fourth most densely populated. This coastal region, also known as the Italian Riviera, boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe. The colourful villages of Camogli, Portofino, the Cinque Terre, and Porto Venere, all located on an 80 km stretch of coast between Genoa and La Spezia, are a highlight of any visit to Italy.
Half of the Ligurian population (of 1.6 million) lives in Genoa, the seat of a powerful maritime republic that traded all over the Mediterranean and the Black Sea for eight centuries (until 1805). Genoa marks the geographic limit between the Riviera di Ponente ("the coast of the setting sun") to the west, and the Riviera di Levante ("the coast of the rising sun") to the east.
Famous people from Liguria include (chronologically): the navigator and explorer Christopher Columbus, the violonist and composer Niccolò Paganini, the politician Giuseppe Mazzini (one of the fathers of unified Italy), the poet Eugenio Montale (Nobel Prize), the chemist Giulio Natta (Nobel Prize), the astrophysycist Riccardo Giacconi (Nobel Prize), the architect Renzo Piano (Pritzker Prize), and the comedian and political activist Beppe Grillo.