Explore 18 magical towns of the Riviera dei Fiori (Riviera of flowers)
Liguria is a crescent-shaped region in northwest Italy. Its Mediterranean coastline is known as the Italian Riviera. The 5 colourful fishing villages of the Cinque Terre, as well as stylish Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure, are on the eastern coast or Riviera di Levante (Coast of the Rising Sun). The western coast, the Riviera di Ponente (Coast of the Setting Sun), is home to Sanremo, a vintage resort with a turn-of-the-century casino and a flower-filled promenade. The Riviera di Ponente is the territory that connects the border of Ventimiglia with the French Riviera to the city of Genoa and includes the provinces of Savona and Imperia. It is divided into the Riviera dei Fiori (of Flowers) in the west and Riviera delle Palme (of Palms) in the east. Explore the coast from Ventimiglia in the west to Cervo in the east and the stunning mediecval inland towns.
Ventimiglia is located 130 km (81 mi) southwest of Genoa and 7 km (4.3 mi) from the French-Italian border on the Gulf of Genoa, having a small harbour at the mouth of the Roia River, which divides the town into two parts. The name Ventimiglia derives from Album Intimilium, which later became Vintimilium, then Ventimiglia. The similarity to the phrase venti miglia ("twenty miles") is coincidental, although the town was almost exactly 20 statute miles from France between 1388 and 1860.
Bordighera is located in the mildest area in all of Liguria. This beautiful tourist resort is nestled between the famous city of Sanremo, where the Italian song festival takes place, and the French Riviera. This location makes the city a fantastic base just 10 minutes from Menton in France and close to the other towns of Western Liguria.
Ospedaletti is situated 6.3 km from Bordighera and 5.9 km from Sanremo. According to tradition, this fishing town takes its name from the hospice founded for pilgrims in the fourteenth century by the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem. The town discovered its vocation for tourism and for flower-growing (especially carnations and roses) in the second half of the nineteenth century with the arrival of the first "tourists" (including Katherine Mansfield and Mary Shelley) and the opening of the first flower market in Europe.
Sanremo was founded in Roman times and it has a population of 55,000. It hosts numerous cultural events, such as the Sanremo Music Festival. Sanremo's Mediterranean climate and attractive seacoast setting on the Italian Riviera make it a popular tourist destination. Besides tourism, the city is active in the production of extra virgin-grade olive oil, whose regional "designation of origin" is protected (D.O.P., Denominazione di Origine Protetta). Sanremo is known as the City of Flowers (la Città dei Fiori). The nearby towns of Arma di Taggia, Bordighera and Ospedaletti are also involved in the cultivation of flowers for the international flower market of Sanremo.
5. ARMA DI AL MARE & BUSSANA
Arma di al Mare is a seaside resort with wide sandy beaches in a picturesque location. The original village of al Mare and its historic centre is set back in the countryside and also well worth a visit.
Bussana Vecchia is a former ghost town in Liguria, Italy. Abandoned due to an earthquake in 1887, it was renovated and repopulated by an international community of artists in the early 1960s. It is administratively a hamlet (frazione) of the city of Sanremo. To this day, it is home to a small group of local inhabitants as well as international artists, with craft shops, cafes, and restaurants, and has over the years gained the reputation of a rural artists' residence within the setting of a medieval village.
6. SANTO STEFANO AL MARE & SAN LORENZO AL MARE
The seaside town of Santo Stefano al Mare is of Roman origin as is evident from the remains of a bridge over which the Via Julia Augusta once passed. The seafront has a leisure port "Marina degli Argai", one of the best of its kind in Liguria. The large Torre beach leads onto a stretch of coast where the sand gradually gives way to coastal rocks.
Riviera dei Fiori Cycle Path ends in San Lorenzo al Mare. The cycle path of the Coastal Park of Western Liguria is one of the longest in the Mediterranean: with its 24 km entirely on the flat, it can be used by pedestrians and cyclists. The route, which follows the entire coast, starts from Ospedaletti and passes through Sanremo, Arma di Taggia, Riva Ligure, Santo Stefano al Mare and ends at San Lorenzo al Mare.
Imperia is the capital of the Province of Imperia, and historically it was capital of the Intemelia district of Liguria. Benito Mussolini created the city of Imperia on 21 October 1923 by combining Porto Maurizio and Oneglia and the surrounding village communes. Imperia is well known for the cultivation of flowers and olives, and is a popular summer destination for visitors.
Porto Maurizio is one of Imperia's main ports and there are many sights to see, especially in the district's Old Town Parasio. One such sight is the classical Cathedral of San Maurizio, the largest church in Liguria. It was built between 1781 and 1832 by Gaetano Cantoni, and adds its own charm to the city with its ringing bells and traditional organ. This part of town is also home to the Convent of Santa Chiara, first established in the 14th century with a structure that dates from 1741, as well as a Naval Museum.
8. DIANO MARINA
Diano Marina is one of the few municipalities along the Ligurian coast with long sandy beaches. The beach season is from May 15 until September 15. Outside of this season, most of the beaches are accessible to the public. It is also known for its streets lined with orange trees, and is referred to as the "Citta degli aranci" (City of the orange trees). It is located about 90 kilometres (56 mi) southwest of Genoa and about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) northeast of Imperia.
Cervo is a small, ancient town and comune, built on top of a hill. It has approximately 1,200 inhabitants. The settlement began as a Roman mansion along the Via Julia Augusta. Slowly expanding, it became, in medieval times, a fief of the Clavesana marquis, who was a subject of the Republic of Genoa, to which Cervo had always been faithful. The present character of Cervo dates from these times: 16th-century towers and ramparts still protect the village. One of its main attractions is the fine baroque church of St. John the Baptist, overlooking the sea.
Taggia is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Imperia located about 110 kilometres (68 miles) southwest of Genoa and about 15 km (9 mi) west of Imperia. It has around 13,000 inhabitants. The town is divided into three parts: Taggia proper, located in the Valle Argentina in the immediate outback, it can be considered the proper centre of the city; Arma, a sea resort; and Levà, including the industrial area, placed between the other centres. Tombs dating from the 10th-7th centuries BC have been found in the area of Taggia. During the Roman domination it was an important commercial port, known as Costa Balenae.
Dolceacqua is a stunning village nestled in the hills of Val Nervia, and is one of the gems of the Italian Riviera. The impressionist painter,Claude Monet, stayed in nearby Bordighera in 1884 and was enchanted by the village of Dolceacqua. He drew the view of the village, the Castle of the Roman bridge of Dolceacqua and in his letters he wrote: “… the place is superb, there is a bridge that is a jewel of lightness …” Today the medieval village of Dolceacqua is still identical to how Monet painted it in the late 1800s.
Pigna is definitely one of theVal Nervia villages to visit In Liguria and is rated by the Italian Touring Club as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Pigna village is on the top of a hill with its stone houses gathered around the bell tower of San Michele. Pigna urban configuration, is similar to that of the famous district of Sanremo, is perched and concentric: a maze of narrow streets and passages under the vaults, which represents an extraordinary monument of medieval architecture, unchanged over time. This Liguria village takes its name from its peculiar arrangement. According to popular tradition, however, it comes from the many pines that grow in the area.
Medieval Apricale is a picturesque small village to the north-east of Dolceacqua and surrounded by forested hills, included on the list of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Apricale is compact and easy to explore. Most of the sights of interest are on or very close to the square in the centre of the village and the main street along the ridge.
The medieval village of Perinaldo was built in the XI century on the ruins of an ancient “castelliere”. It is located on a ridge with a unique panorama between sea and mountains.
Triora is a beautiful medieval village perched in the beautiful Argentina Valley and owes its name to "Tria-Ora" (three mouths) indicating the three main products of the area (wheat, vines and chestnuts). But it is due to the tragic story that occurred in the years 1587-89 that it is still known as the Country of Witches. Back in 1587, thanks to a lengthy, harsh famine, desperate locals became convinced that the town’s resident “witches” were to blame, having allegedly practiced black magic that made crops fail and cows milkless. Charged with crimes like doing deals with the devil and murdering children, some thirty women were rounded up, interrogated, tortured, and some eventually sentenced to death by burning.
WHAT TO EAT IN LIGURIA: TROFIE AL PESTO
Trofie al pesto is one of the most famous dishes from Liguria. It is a combination of two elements: trofie, the Ligurian hand-rolled pasta made with flour and water, and pesto, a famous green sauce consisting of seven elements: basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, salt, and two types of cheese.
The authentic pesto Genovese should contain basilico Genovese, extra-virgin Ligurian olive oil, high-quality garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, and Pecorino cheese from Rome, Tuscany, Sardegna, or Sicily. Trofie al pesto is traditionally served in small portions, as a first course.
SLEEP AT AREGAI MARINA HOTEL & RESIDENCE
Directly on the beach, the Aregai Marina Hotel & Residence will let you discover its horizons and its colours in a breathtaking location that reflects all the warmth of their hospitality, in the evocative setting of the Marina of Aregai marina in Santo Stefano al Mare Imperia Liguria.
SLEEP AT HOTEL RIVIERA DEI FIORI
The Riviera dei Fiori is a four-star hotel located within the tourist port of Marina di San Lorenzo in San Lorenzo al Mare, in the province of Imperia. The hotel has great charm, characterized by a unique pagoda architecture, consisting of 39 rooms, complete with the most modern facilities, directly overlooking a private beach and surrounded by greenery.
SLEEP AT HOTEL VIRGINIA DIANO MARINA
Virginia Hotel in Diano Marina - Riviera dei Fiori is located in a quiet area just 50 meters from the beach and a short walk from San Bartolomeo al Mare. All the rooms have a balcony, most with a sea view, flat screen TV, telephone, safe, hairdryer, air conditioning and free Wi-Fi in the whole hotel.
WHEN TO GO: The coast is packed in July and August; if you can, visit in spring or autumn, when the towns are quieter. Even from November to March, the Italian Riviera usually has a mild climate: temperatures rarely goes under 10 degrees and there are many sunny days.
HOW TO GET AROUND: Rent a car and explore every stunning village of the Riviera dei Fiori on your travelwishlist!