The small market town of ALBENGA is one of the most attractive places along this part of the Ligurian coast, an ex-port whose estuary silted up long ago but left a wanderable old quarter, still within medieval walls and following the grid-pattern of its ancient Roman predecessor, Albingaunum.
The centre of town is Piazza San Michele, where you’ll find the elegant cathedral, the main part of which was built in the eleventh century and enlarged in the early fourteenth, and, just beyond, in the Torre Comunale, the Museo Civico Ingauno, home to an array of Roman masonry and fragments, including a patch of original mosaic floor, and, off to the right, the fifth-century baptistry. This ingenious building was built in the fifth century, and combines a ten-sided exterior with an octagonal interior. Inside are fragmentary mosaics showing the Apostles represented by twelve doves. Behind the baptistry to the north, the archbishop’s palace houses the diverting Museo Diocesano, Via Episcopio 5, where there are paintings by Lanfranco and Guido Reni. The archbishop’s partially frescoed bedchamber, next door to his private chapel, is also decorated with fifteenth-century frescoes. A few metres from here, at the junction of Via Medaglie d’Oro and Via Ricci, the thirteenth-century Loggia dei Quattro Canti marks the centre of the Roman town, while some 500m further north, beyond Piazza Garibaldi and along Viale Pontelungo, is the elegant, arcaded Pontelungo bridge. Built in the twelfth century to cross the river, which shifted course soon afterwards, it now makes an odd sight.
In the opposite direction, five minutes’ walk beyond the train station, lies Albenga’s seafront and beaches – mostly sandy and with a couple of reasonable free sections.