Finalborgo is a picturesque medieval village in western Liguria, just a couple of kilometers inland from the bustling seaside town of Finale Ligure.

The medieval hamlet of Finalborgo in Liguria

Crossing the gates of Finalborgo you feel like you are stepping into another world. The centre of the village is wrapped up in perfectly preserved ancient walls that seem to hide and protect a beautiful atmosphere of past times.

This adorable hamlet dates back to the XII century and has a long history that saw it as the capital of the Marquisate of Finale, which was governed the Del Carretto family until the beginning of the XVII century, then part of the Hapsburg empire and property of the Republic of Genoa. Today Finalborgo is a delightful village of less than 1,000 residents that attracts visitors from all over Europe with its romantic atmosphere.

The medieval hamlet of Finalborgo in Liguria

The thing I like the most about this place is that it has the typical charm of a historic village with a turbulent past, but it’s very lively at the same time, with colorful pedestrianized streets, lots of cool boutiques and cozy cafés.

What to see in Finalborgo

Finalborgo is home to an impressive number of elegant palaces and historic monuments, which is one of the reasons why it’s been included in the list of  Italy’s most picturesque villages.

Streets and squares of this little village are lined with amazing buildings featuring beautiful frescoed facades, each with its own fascinating story. Some of the most beautiful are Palazzo Nazionale that was once the seat of the government, and Palazzo Brunengo, with a lovely medieval loggia where weights, measures, and stocks of the Marquisate were kept.

Palazzo Ricci in the medieval hamlet of Finalborgo in LiguriaI really liked also Palazzo Ricci, an aristocratic palace overlooking the pretty little Piazza Santa Caterina, and Casa Cavasola with the most romantic balcony.

Every Italian village is guarded by a church or two and Finalborgo is no exception, with the imposing Church of San Biagio standing proudly next to the main entrance gate. Do take a minute to visit this XVII-century church, because its rather plain baroque facade hides seriously amazing interiors lavishly decorated in green and golden tones.

The Church of San Biagio in the medieval hamlet of Finalborgo in LiguriaAnother important religious complex is the Convent of St Catherine, which was commissioned by the Del Carretto marquesses in 1395 to create a family mausoleum – although, in reality, they wanted to leverage the influence of the Dominican fathers over the population to strengthen their power. For centuries it was the cultural and spiritual heart of Finalborgo, but after the dissolution of the religious order, it became a penal colony. Today the convent is home to the Public Multimedia Library and an Archaeology Museum.

St Catherine's convent in the medieval hamlet of Finalborgo in LiguriaThe castles of Finalborgo

When approaching Finalborgo by car, the first things you’ll see are two imposing castles standing high above the village. One is the Fort of San Giovanni, built in the XVII century by the Spanish who occupied Finalborgo and transformed the Marquisate into a stronghold. Its structure is really unique since it adapts to the natural environment along a hill ridge. After being partially destroyed by the Genoese in the 19th century, it was turned into a women’s prison and now it is public property. Today you can visit it for free, although I must admit that there is not much to see.

The Fort of San Giovanni in the medieval hamlet of Finalborgo in LiguriaA 15-minute walk further up from the fort are the ruins of Castel Govone, the ancient residence of the Marquis. When the Republic of Genoa took over the Marquisate, the governor ordered to destroy it and the castle was left in ruin for centuries until in 1989 when the last owners donated it to the local municipality. The beautiful tower in the shape of a diamond, one of the castle’s most impressive features, is still visible today. The castle is not accessible and you can only see it from behind a fence.

Castel Govone n the medieval hamlet of Finalborgo in LiguriaTo reach both castles you need to walk for about 15-20 minutes along a steep path and while the first part up to the Fort of San Giovanni is pretty easy, the trail to Castel Govone is definitely more challenging, with steep woodland walking (strollers are not ok here). Is it worth the effort? Yes, I recommend it for the views over the village and the sea and fora closer look at Castel Govone’s diamond tower.

Finalborgo, the outdoor capital

Finalborgo is surrounded by beautiful cliffs, rocky crags and fantastic tracks that every year attract outdoor sports enthusiasts from all over Europe. What’s more, this area enjoys particularly mild weather all year round, which means that it is possible to practice these sports even in winter.

Shops selling sports equipment abound in the streets of Finalborgo and groups of free climbers and mountain bikers enjoying a refreshing beer after a day of intense sporting activity are a popular sight.

Where to eat in Finalborgo

Being so close to the sea I should list fish restaurants, but no, guys the best restaurant in Finalborgo is specialized in meat (sorry veggie friends!). It’s called Quarto Di Bue and if you are a meat lover like me, then take note of this place because it’s seriously good. Other very good restaurants included n my list are Invexendu with a lovely veranda opening onto Piazza dei Tribunali, and Ai Cuattru Canti, tucked away in a quiet street just off the main square.

Pasta with pesto, potatoes and green beans in LiguriaNow, let’s talk about what to order. Typical dishes include pasta with pesto, potatoes and green beans – a classic of this area – Ligurian braised rabbit and brandacujun, made with potatoes and cod. Oh and try some fragrant focaccia and freshly baked cornetti from U Panaté du Burgu, a lovely bakery in Via Nicotera – my mornings will never be the same without them!

Where to stay in Finalborgo

There are a couple of nice bed & breakfasts in Finalborgo. One is right in front of Porta Reale, the main gate to the village, and is called Alle Vecchie Mura. The other one is Antico Pozzo, which is also a great place for an aperitivo right in the heart of Finalborgo. I stayed in a lovely apartment with a super central location right above a bakery – waking up with the scent of fresh bread and croissants was priceless!

Useful tips

  • The nearest airport is Genova Cristoforo Colombo, 49 km from the village. You can reach easily Finalborgo on foot with a pleasant 30-minute stroll from Finale Ligure. If you drive, there’s a paid parking zone just outside the walls near Porta Testa and some free spots along Via Fiume and in the school courtyard.
  • Finalborgo has a full schedule of events throughout the year, starting with the antique fair that takes place on the first weekend of every month and sees lots of colorful stalls taking the village streets to sell anything from vintage furniture to second-hand books. Another key date is the second to last weekend of August when Finalborgo celebrates its medieval past with a historical re-enactment called “Viaggio nel Medioevo” (“Journey into the Middle Ages”). The village becomes the stage of medieval games, flag-wavers, fire-eaters and there are stalls cooking old recipes with Celtic music in the background.

A super hug from Italy,

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Cristina Petrini 5 September 2019 at 18:47

From the Italian I say that Liguria is one of my favorite regions and even though we went there many times I missed this little gem to be discovered!

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:20

    Grazie Cristina! Liguria hides so many incredible treasures..

kumamonjeng 6 September 2019 at 11:44

The old town looks stunning and I always prefer small little hidden gem. I have not yet been to Italy and I will put that in my bucket list.

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:19

    Hope you make it here soon 🙂

Heather 6 September 2019 at 17:19

Your photos make me want to travel more. I love the history in the buildings!

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:19

    Thanks so much Heather!

LuciWest 6 September 2019 at 18:13

Whoa! Finalborgo looks absolutely incredible! It’s truly like stepping back in time. Would love to wander up and down the hills and through the alleys and then rest in that church and just gaze an its beauty.

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:19

    Yep, I really felt like stepping into another dimension!

Holly Castillo 6 September 2019 at 20:59

Oh wow. This is beautiful, I wish Italy was closer to me

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:18

    Think of how many beautiful backdrops you could have for your fantastic photos Holly!

Jasmine Hewitt 7 September 2019 at 02:19

i have never heard of this place! i would love to go here and visit though!

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:17

    Usually when talking about Liguria people think immediately of Cinque Terre, but there’s a lot more to explore 🙂

Marysa 7 September 2019 at 03:18

What a neat place to explore! Sounds like there is a lot of interesting history and things to see.

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:15

    Totally Marysa!

Summer 7 September 2019 at 12:10

Medieval building are my favorite so this charming little town looks like the perfect place for me to visit! I also love castles and it’s great that you can see both within a 20 minutes walk of each other! Finalborgo would be the perfect weekend away!

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:15

    You’re right Summer and I’m already thinking of taking a weekend trip there in the fall

Kristal 7 September 2019 at 16:29

This looks like such a cute little town to visit. I will definitely be adding this to my bucket list. Thank you for sharing some amazing places to visit.

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:14

    Thanks a lot Kristal, hope to inspire people to visit this beautiful country 🙂

Agnes Vazhure 7 September 2019 at 17:49

Sample of places that are really beautiful and needs to preserve. The world needs this. I love visiting historical places.

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:13

    Me too 🙂

Adele Gee 8 September 2019 at 09:02

There are so many Italian towns that are so lovely! Looks like Finalborgo is definitely one of them. That street with flags is just so photogenic. The Church of San Biagio looks like it keeps the most secret treasures of the town!

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:13

    Thank you Adele!

Kara Guppy 8 September 2019 at 10:25

We fell in love with Italy when we visited and I would love to exlpore some more. It looks stunning

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:12

    What I love about my country is the immense variety of places and experiences you can have… which requires countless trips 😀

Medha Verma 8 September 2019 at 10:36

Italian villages have to be some of the best in Europe, there’s no doubt about that. I went to a few in Tuscany and was mesmerised. Medieval villages with pedestrianised streets, cosy cafes and cool boutiques are exactly what I love about Europe and Finalborgo, although I confess I have never heard it, seems to be exactly the type of village that I would want to visit. The church also looks gorgeous!

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:11

    Thanks so much Medha, Finalborgo is truly a little gem!

Lisa 8 September 2019 at 19:23

One thing I adore about being back in Italy is exploring historic villages like this one. I’ve not come across Finalborgo before reading this, and am intrigued to see it for myself. Liguria looks equally stunning – still a part of Genoa I’m yet to visit. That pasta and pesto dish looks so tempting too!

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:11

    I know right? I ate so much of it! ahahaha

Anda 9 September 2019 at 00:56

The little town of Finalborgo definitely incited my curiosity. From the ruins of Castle Govone on the sea shore, to the beautiful Convent of St Catherine and those narrow medieval streets, everything screams “beautiful Medieval town worth visiting.” I’m sold on it.

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:10

    Thank you Anda, glad you liked the article 🙂

Jane Dempster-Smith 9 September 2019 at 08:43

Finalborgo is ticking all the boxes for me. It looks like it is definitely worth the hike up to Castel Govone. Church of San Biagio is a must to see as well, those green and gold elaborate interiors look beautiful. Italian food – well I am up for that anytime. Thanks for sharing with us all about Finalborgo.

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:09

    Thanks so much Jane!

Catherine 9 September 2019 at 17:38

Oh my goodness what a fun village to explore!! This looks like so much fun…I’d love to visit and I’m sure my family would have the best time there too!

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:09

    Thanks for stopping by Catherine! I think Finalborgo is a great place for a family trip!

Mijia Eggers 9 September 2019 at 22:24

The medieval town is always my favorite place to go. Whenever I am in Italy, I will visit several medieval towns. I like the setting of the town, its history, and the Italian food.

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:08

    Yep, these little towns are truly unique!

Ami Bhat 10 September 2019 at 15:49

What a lovely town. Love the cobble stone pathways and the medieval buildings are just so cute. The castles definitely intrigue me the most. A good walking tour is possibly the best way to get it all.

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Ciao! I'm Val, an Italian blogger with a huge passion for my country, its culture and traditions. My Italian Diaries is the online space where I share itineraries, activities and off-the-beaten path places to help you experience the best of Italy like a local!


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