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San Remo, Ventimiglia, Savona & Liguria's Riviera di Ponente

San Remo, Ventimiglia, Savona & Liguria's Riviera di Ponente

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San Remo, Ventimiglia, Savona & Liguria's Riviera di Ponente

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3 ore
Jul 5, 2012


Thin and crescent-shaped, Liguria is predominantly coastline (only 23 miles wide at its widest point) and is backed by the Apennine Mountains that stretch northward into the Italian region of Piedmont. This inland section – sometimes referred to as the hi
Jul 5, 2012

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Correlato a San Remo, Ventimiglia, Savona & Liguria's Riviera di Ponente

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San Remo, Ventimiglia, Savona & Liguria's Riviera di Ponente - Amy Finley

San Remo, Ventimiglia, Savona & Italy's Western Riviera

Amy Finley


© 2012 Hunter Publishing, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher.

This guide focuses on recreational activities. As all such activities contain elements of risk, the publisher, author, affiliated individuals and companies disclaim responsibility for any injury, harm, or illness that may occur to anyone through, or by use of, the information in this book. Every effort was made to insure the accuracy of information in this book, but the publisher and author do not assume, and hereby disclaim, liability for any loss or damage caused by errors, omissions, misleading information or potential travel problems caused by this guide, even if such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident or any other cause.


This is an Introduction to the entire Italian Riviera – including Genoa, the Riviera di Levante and the Riviera di Ponente – with information on the practicalities of travel in this region. After the Introduction, the focus of the book turns to the Riviera di Ponente at the western end, including San Remo, Ventimiglia, Noli, Savona and much more. For the Riviera di Levante and Genoa, see our complete guide to the Italian Riviera or our individual guides to those regions.

The scent of herbs and pines, the startling blue of the sea. The brilliant white of cliffs tumbling into the depths, the bronze of suntanned skin. The sound of pounding surf, the chiming of church bells. The sight of mountain peaks that break the clouds, the chill of an alpine breeze. All this, and more, is the Italian Riviera.

Pinned between the mountains and the sea, on a steeply-sloped crescent of land stretching from the French border to Tuscany, the people of the Italian region of Liguria – commonly known as the Italian Riviera – developed a character and unique way of life. The area is small – only 170 miles long, and 23 miles wide at its widest point. Some historians and sociologists have theorized that the geography of Liguria had a profound psychological impact on the people who lived there. They reason that the limited landmass – with the sea on one side and daunting mountains on the other – had an island effect, compelling the Ligurians to take to the sea as fishermen, traders, explorers, and sailors. To be sure, among their number is perhaps the most famous explorer of all time, Christopher Colombus.

This predilection for seafaring and commerce enabled Liguria’s principle city, Genoa – once capital of the Republic of Genoa – to amass unparalleled riches and astonishing political power between the 12th and 18th centuries. An old saying holds that, Gold is born in the Americas, passes through Spain, and dies in Genoa. The city’s fascinating history is filled with intrigue as its leading families used murder, marriage, might, and manipulation to secure their personal fortunes and the global ascendancy of the Republic they ruled as oligarchs.

This is the backdrop against which travelers encounter the Riviera and emerge with an appreciation not only for its natural splendor – more than half of Liguria is protected park land and the coastal areas are carefully and deliberately stewarded – but also for its interdependence. Each town of the Riviera is an actor in a larger drama that has been playing for centuries. In the past the storyline centered on the prestige and ambition of the Genoese Republic and its influence in the world. Today it is a story of reinvention to reap the rewards promised by global tourism, while maintaining identity and integrity.

How to Use this Book

Every traveler has a different definition of adventure. Some seek adrenalin-pumping thrills or to push their physical limits. Others find challenge enough in the goal of relaxation and leaving the stress of daily life behind. Then there are those for whom the pursuit of new knowledge and experience is the ultimate reward and the ultimate adventure.

I myself find places all the more fascinating when I understand how they came to be as they are. A ramshackle building comes alive when you know the tale of its former glory, the scenes and passions that transpired within its walls. Genoa is like that. The story of Genoa is all-important to understanding the story of the other villages and how they knit together. To travel on the Italian Riviera is to pass through a region that was once the unlikeliest power center of all Europe. A tiny fragment of coastline, it logically should never have become the player it became. But its intrepid sailors and shrewd power mongers – not to mention the hearty common folk who literally hewed a livelihood from the inhospitable soil of a thousand cliffs – gathered wealth and prestige for Liguria. Consider that the entire country of Italy had five Maritime Republics (though history remembers only four), and that two of them – Genoa and Noli – were located on the Riviera, so close together you can now travel from one to the other in less than an hour by car.

I find the Italian Riviera to be the ideal vacation spot. Loads of history, urban and natural environments, beauty, activity. Every day is an adventure.

The Italian Riviera has something for every kind of traveler, and this book aims to help you get the most out of every location. The presentation of each town follows the same format.

Introduction and history (to help set your perspective).

Getting there (practical information about transportation).

Resources (websites you might want to check out, location of the tourist office).

Being there (a quick orientation both to physical layout and vibe, followed by detailed descriptions of the most important sites and their significance).

Only in… (what’s special here you might not encounter elsewhere and what’s nearby that you shouldn’t miss?).

For active travelers (what you can do here, and what you need to do it).

To give you an idea of some of the many experiences the Italian Riviera has to offer…

Top 10 Italian Riviera Adventures (in no particular order)

Maxing out your credit card (and celebrity spotting) while doing some luxury shopping in Portofino.

Imagining knife-wielding assassins prowling the medieval streets of Genoa while wandering the caruggi of the Centro Storico (during the daytime), then marveling at the palaces on the Via Garibaldi before heading to the aquarium on the Porto Antico.

Hiking the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri, the beautiful and demanding hinterland trail that runs from one end of Liguria to the other.

Perfecting your tan on the sandy beaches of the western Riviera.

Hiking the ancient mule-tracks linking the five charming villages of the Cinque Terre.

Tasting troffie a la genovese, farinata, and other Ligurian specialties.

Diving to see the Cristo degli Abissi below the turquoise waters off the Portofino Promontory.

Gambling with the high-rollers at the casino in San Remo.

Sailing on the Bay of Poets.

Having a glass of Rossese di Dolceacqua after exploring the hilltop villages of the Val Nervia.

Whatever adventure you find, I know you’ll have a fantastic time exploring the Italian Riviera. Have a wonderful trip!

A note about websites

Thanks to the Internet you can find loads of information on places you’re interested in visiting. Almost every commune (town) in the region maintains a website with both civic information for residents and useful info for potential tourists. In addition, the various provinces have their own websites, including tourist websites that aim to help travelers put together their trip itineraries. Then there are the websites specifically for promoting tourism to Liguria, and those of individual businesses, and museums, and hotels, and …

You get the point. There’s a lot out there. Some are very useful and I’ve included links for those in this book. But even among them there’s a lot of variation, especially when it comes to language. Some have excellent English-language versions. Some have English translations so bad you’re better off pulling out the Italian dictionary and muddling through the Italian content. Others don’t even bother and put Italian out there, period.

When that’s the case, I generally either use the Babblefish translator provided by AltaVista, or the Google translator. Both produce sloppy and almost incoherent translations, but it gets you a step closer and sometimes close enough to find that nugget of info you were looking for. It’s good preparation for the actual experience of traveling in Italy.

Practicalities of Travel

When to Go, Where to Go

Once you’ve fallen in love with the idea of vacationing on the Italian Riviera, it’s time to do your homework and nail down all the practicalities. When to go, where to go, and settling the issue of transportation (including deciding how you’re going to get from place to place) are the first steps in planning your trip, and it’s always good to have some basic information about things like currency and banking, language, customs, etc.

When to Go

The high and low travel seasons along the Italian Riviera follow the weather, which is, on the whole, quite mild (and what drew the first proper tourists – Brits fleeing the wet winter – to Liguria). As the thermometer goes up, so do the crowds, with the height of the high season peaking in July and August (high season is officially mid-June to mid-September). In the summer months you may find yourself elbow-to-elbow on the beaches, stuck in traffic on the Via Aurelia, or waiting – and waiting – for a table at a restaurant. On the plus side, everything is open and there’s a party atmosphere as the towns and villages of Liguria host numerous festivals and special events (see the calendar, below). It’s hard not to love the Riviera in the summer, all hassles aside.

If you don’t want to deal with crowds, April, May, and late September – the shoulder seasons – are an excellent time to visit. The weather is warm (averaging 70°F), rain is rare, and the crowds are at bay. Room rates are generally cheaper during the shoulder season as well, though you should, of course, verify with your hotel at the time of booking. Easter week does bring crowds, but the festive atmosphere surrounding this important Italian holiday (Catholicism is the predominant religion in Italy) offsets any nuisances.

Once upon a time it wasn’t uncommon for hotels and restaurants along the coast to close from October to February, but this is becoming more and more rare. Most of the Riviera is now open year-round, though museums and shops might have limited hours during the off-season. Information about closures and odd hours is provided in the individual listings of this book. The rainy season falls during October, November, and December. Liguria doesn’t get a lot of rain, but when it does it can cause havoc on the narrow, curvy inland roads. Some of the mountain towns get snow during the winter and Liguria has a sprinkling of ski resorts and numerous locales for cross-country skiing and other winter activities.

Airfare from North America to Europe also follows the seasons. Generally, the best fares are available during off-peak months, from mid-October to mid-May. The summer months, following supply and demand, bring the most expensive airfares. However, between miles rewards programs, ticket consolidators, tour operators and packagers, and the web, it’s still possible to find a reasonable fare for travel during the summer.

Italians love a good festival, and the calendar along the Riviera is packed with events that bring locals to the piazzi for food, revelry, and commemoration. Tourists are not only tolerated, they’re welcmed with the warmth and spirit typical of Italy. You might want to plan your trip to coincide with any of the following:

January: To celebrate the Feast of St. Sebastian on January 20th, the townspeople of Dolceacqua and Camporosso carry laurel trees decorated with colored communion wafers through the streets. At the end of the month, San Remo hosts the Italian Festival of Popular Songs.

February: The Festa dei Fulgari, held in mid-February, commemorates the defeat of Saracen pirates at Taggia, a coastal city famous for its olives, citrus, almonds and figs.

Easter: The most important holiday on the Catholic calendar is celebrated all over Liguria with feasts, processions, and festivals. The most famous are the Black Thursday and Good Friday processions in Ceriana, and the Good Friday processions in Savona and Triora.

May: Though mines dotted the seas off Camogli during WWII, the fishing fleet made it back to shore safely. Their return is commemorated each second Sunday of May with a festival featuring a giant frying pan and hundreds of fish, which are cooked and freely distributed among the revelers.

May/July: The Regatta of the MaritimeRepublics takes place alternately between Genoa, Amalfi, Pisa, and Venice. Dating from Renaissance times, only men born in the respective cities can compete in the boat race, though anyone can watch. Also during the summer months, the Ligurian towns of Chiavari and Sestri Levante participate in the Maritime Palio, a series of races and events on the sea similar in origin to the Palio horse races in Siena.

June: Seven weeks after Easter, Whit Sunday is celebrated in Baiardo with the Festa delle Barca, which has nothing to do really with the apostles or the tongues of flame. Instead, villagers – and festival-goers – dance around a decorated pine tree in recreation of what is thought to be an ancient pagan ritual. Also in June, on the Sunday following the feast of Corpus Christi, the towns of Diano Marina and Sassello host a unique celebration in which artists create ephemeral masterpieces on the pavement using only flower petals. In Genoa, the Festival of St. John – the city’s patron saint – is celebrated the 24th with a street procession and city-wide party.

July: Fireworks explode over Rapallo as part of Nostra Signora di Montallegro. The lovely village of Cervo hosts the International Festival of Chamber Music near the end of the month in the square outside the baroque church of San Giovanni Battista.

August: The first Sunday of the month is festival time in several villages. Camogli hosts Stella Maris, a beautiful boat procession. InLa Spezia, there’s a regatta and fireworks for the Palio del Golfo. See villagers in period costume participating in the procession as part of Corteo Storico in Ventimiglia. August 13-14, the town of Lavagna cuts a giant cake and hosts tournaments and a procession to commemorate medieval fieschi weddings as part of Torta dei Fieschi. At the end of the month (August 23), the heart of the Cristo degli Abissi festival off San Fruttuoso is the descent of divers to the ocean floor where a wreath is laid at the feet of a bronze statue of Christ.

September: Feast on delicious snail dishes as part of the Sagra della Lumaca, or Snail Festival, in Molini di Triora. The second Sunday of the month, a regatta and procession is held in Noli for the Regatta dei Rioni.

December: Most towns and villages hold various events for the Christmas season, including nativities, craft fares, and processions. Santa Lucia (December 13) in Toirano features a candlelit procession, and in Dolceacqua, a bonfire is

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