Bordighera, Sanremo and nearby villages


Chosen by the noble British as a Grand Tour destination for the mild climate, Bordighera is today the mirror of that aristocratic tourism, among precious Nineteenth-century buildings, villas and wonderful gardens like the exotic Pallanca. Claude Monet was so influenced by the greenery, the flowers and the palm trees of the Riviera during his stay in Bordighera that among his 34 paintings many depict local scenery. And again, Evita Peron who was in the city 1947 and inaugurated what is called Lungomare Argentina, the longest sea front promenade of the Riviera, overlooking the beaches that have long been awarded with the Blue Flag. Among the famous names staying in Bordighera is the eccentric botanist and  mathematician Clarence Bicknell, who built the current Bicknell Museum, the famous French architect Charles Garnier, the composer Franco Alfano who completed the Turandot by Puccini in Bordighera, the German botanist Ludwig Winter, the French banker Louis-Raphaël Bischoffsheim and then the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pompeo Mariani, Hermann Nestel, Louis Corinth, Ennio Morotti, Giuseppe Piana, Unforgettable for the city is also the Queen Margherita of Savoy who stayed here for a long time and to whom a beautiful statue has been dedicated and placed at the foot of the pine forest.


The village of stars, as Perinaldo is known. Indeed, situated among vast swathes of olive trees, is the astronautical observatory dedicated to Gian Domenico Cassini, who was born in Perinaldo. A place to study and observe the sky, where it is perfectly clear and unblighted by light pollution. The Cassini Meridian passes right through Perinaldo, it also goes through Bordighera, Turin, Saint-Vincent… Legend has it that a Kabbalah was discovered in Castello Maraldi (Maraldi Castle), two other copies of which was owned by Cardinal Borromeo and the Grand Duke of Toscany. A myriad of painted facades with traditional sundials and the 15-th-century church of San Nicola da Bari, together with invaluable organ, enrich the village centre.  Don’t miss out on sampling the purple artichokes, protected by the Slow Food movement, which were introduced to this area by Napoleon Bonaparte.


Who would ever have imagined that in Liguria, amongst the mimosa and broom, there was a Principality? The origins of Seborga date back to 1079 and it even has its own princess, laws and currency; the Luigino. A tradition that continues in folklore with a government building where souvenir stamps can be purchased, plus other wonders such as the baroque church of San Martino and the Palazzo dei Monaci ancient mint. There is also a permanent musical instrument exhibition, with 135 valuable antique pieces.


According to a legend, the name comes from the hospital founded in the 14th century by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem to welcome the pilgrims. Tourism and floriculture make the history of Ospedaletti, the 19th century was time of English tourism – Mary Shelley and Catherine Mansfield – as well as the first flower market in Europe. Another primate for the town that had become a destination of the Aristocracy of Europe was the inauguration of the first casino in Italy at Villa Sultana in 1911. Every two years the “Rievocazione Storica di Gran Turismo Sanremo” takes place in Ospedaletti since 1947, an event that combines sports and cultural aspects connected to the world of engines and transforms Ospedaletti into the capital of vintage motorcycling for a weekend.


The city of the flowers per excellence, Sanremo is the centre around which some of the most famous annual events revolve. Music, with the Festival della Canzone Italiana and the Premio Tenco; sport, with the “most classic” cycling race, the Milan-Sanremo, or the regatta known as the Giraglia Rolex Cup and the Corso Fiorito, known as Sanremo Fiore, blooming Sanremo. Amid events, mundaneness and international tourism that have characterized the town since the Nineteenth century and the famous Casino, Sanremo is also a small pearl of history and culture. Its ancient heart beats in the Pigna district, tangle of caruggi, the narrow alleyways, where shadows and sunshine alternate, while luxury shines between the villas and the parks.  Among these, the most famous are the Villa of Alfred Nobel and Villa Ormond, the current seat of Floriseum, the Flower Museum of Sanremo. Not to be missed is also the Fort of Santa Tecla on the harbour, an unique Genoese fort with four mortar tubes towards the city, the Russian church, an early Twentieth century-building overlooking the beautiful promenade  Imperatrice and Portosole, that with its almost thousand berths is the main tourist docking in the city. For shopping, a walk along Via Matteotti is recommended, while evenings to remember take place in Piazza Bresca, the old harbour or the promenade with many typical venues.


Known by ethnomusicologists around the world for the ancient chants which are sung during Holy Week, Ceriana is the village of religious Brotherhoods, who re-evoke this ritual of religious devotion every year which falls somewhere between the sacred and the profane. The spiritual atmosphere dominates the narrow alleyways of this delightful village of medieval buildings and Roman origins, established at the top of a hill from which the god Apollo was worshipped. If the cultural scene is more than alive, the village’s traditional cuisine is not different.


Origins date back to Pre-Roman times; an ancient village located a top a hill at an altitude of 900 metres, overlooking both the coast and the Maritime Alpes. Its charm does not only derive from the legends of ancient myths, but also from striking buildings such as the San Nicolò church ruins, with missing roof and floor and imposing ancient olive trees. The Ra Barca local festival, referred to also by Italo Calvino, date back to the medieval times and takes place on Whitsunday with propitiatory dances and chants. In recent years, Laura Maria Petronella from Bajardo has become famous  for her large handmade  crochet pictures, which are now on display in the town hall and in many sanctuaries.

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