Our life in: Liguria

Max and Barbara Fenton from Nottinghamshire own a two-bed house on the edge of a small village in the hills of western Liguria. They spend a month there in summer, and make several one- or two-week visits throughout the rest of the year. What drew them to Italy, and to Liguria in particular?

“We’re both keen walkers,” Max explains, “and we’ve taken many holidays along pedestrian trails and hiking routes in France and Italy. About eight years ago we went on a series of long walks in Liguria – a region neither of us had ever been to before – and we fell in love with the place. The coast is stunning, obviously, with its pretty buildings and beaches, but we were especially taken by the beautiful old hill-villages and quiet woodlands inland. These were an absolute delight to explore on foot. Fragrant pines, flowering trees, sleepy village squares and elegant little churches. The air was so clean and fresh, we felt we wanted to walk forever. A couple of years later, when we thought about buying a house abroad, Liguria was the first thought for both of us.”

“The house is on a hillside, in a village about 20 minutes’ drive from the sea. We have a view through olive trees across a valley and off to the right we can see higher mountains rising beyond the hills. It’s just about the quietest, calmest spot imaginable. The house is about 200 years old, made of dark local stone, and was a bit shabby when we bought it. It hadn’t been lived in for several years. We had a bit of work done on the outside and a very good refurbishment done inside, and now it’s really attractive and comfortable.”

“We spend a lot of time out on the roof terrace – eating, reading, or just relaxing and enjoying the view. Because we have the extra bedroom, we often have Barbara’s sister Wendy and her husband, Francis, out here to join us, and then the four of us usually sit out very late on the terrace after dinner and watch the stars. Sometimes one of us dozes off out there, it’s so beautiful and peaceful. We just pop a blanket over them and toddle inside to bed.”

“Having the coast within such easy reach is wonderful. It’s always nice to go down to the beaches to swim and to wander in the buzzing holiday atmosphere of the resorts. But we feel most at home up here in the hills. The pace of life is slower, it’s quieter, and the air feels fresher – perfumed with herbs and flowers and trees. I’d recommend Liguria to anyone. It gives you two different worlds in one small place.”