Riviera dei Fiori, Italy
This stretch of the Ligurian coast in northern Italy offers you everything
from beaches, sunshine and bustling towns to mountains, castles, caves and
medieval villages –plus the region is small enough to get around easily
by car. Here history, art, culture and traditions
of Claudio Gavioli
perfectly with chic modern restaurants and bars, and various
outdoor pursuits, such as sailing and climbing. And with the
French border so close you can easily jump on a train or hire
a car and be in Monaco in next to no time (it’s worth noting
that a 45-minute taxi ride from Bordighera to Monaco costs about
L70). Any other reasons to go? Ah yes, there’s the food –Liguria
is one of the capitals of the healthy Mediterranean diet –think
delicious pasta, fresh .sh, mouthwatering fruit, vegetables and
to do and where to go
One of the most charming places on the Riviera is Bordighera, the city of palms,
which was greatly loved by the English nobility in the last century (and Italian
Queen Margherita who had a summer residence there). It still has a very British
feel, with the beautiful Anglican Church and the Bicknell Museum.
The town is an ideal family base from which to explore this lovely region.
As well as boasting an attractive pebbly beach alongside a tree-lined promenade,
it has great restaurants –try the upmarket La Via Romana (laviaromana.it;
+39 0184 266681) or the modern seafront eaterie La Reserve on Via Arziglia
(+39 0184 261322). And don’t forget the Pallanca Exotic Garden where
more than 3,000 species of cacti thrive in a stunning setting.
Market lovers can browse stalls in the town on Thursday mornings or head to
nearby San Remo (Tuesdays and Saturday mornings) or Ventimiglia (Fridays).
An absolute must is a journey into the mountains and a look around the ancient
villages. If you only have time for one, head off to Dolceacqua, which has
an antiquated castle (music festivals are held there in August); a single-span
medieval bridge and beautiful churches –and the Visionarium, a tiny cinema
showing 3D documentaries, complete with relevant odours and an amazing sound
If you’re feeling more adventurous, enjoy a glass of the famous Rossese
and see how it’s made by taking a trip into the mountains to the vineyard
Terre Bianche (terrebianche.com). And for a real taste of old-fashioned Italian
cuisine, drop into La Locanda degli Ulivi (+39 0184 206913) for delicious vegetables,
followed by home-made ravioli, meat and potatoes. You can also browse around
the delightful Hanbury Botanic Gardens in Ventimiglia.
The climate is fairly mild all year round and there’s plenty of culture
on offer, which means there’s something to do even on wet days. Those
who don’t like very hot weather may .nd July and August too steamy as
the temperature often soars well into the 30s. Locals suggest the best time
to come is in May and June when the heat is comfortable and the region is in
full, beautiful bloom.
•Budget For a peaceful stay, head out of Bordighera towards Perinaldo to
Il Rifugio Di Artemide (ilrifugiodiartemide.+ 39 0184 672131), which stands on
a hillside and is popular with musicians and artists. Prices start from L51 a
night per room and L65 for an apartment.
•Mid-range Highly recommended is the Victorian-style, family-run Hotel
Villa Elisa (villaelisa.com; +39 0184 261313) in Bordighera, which provides a
perfect spot to explore the Riviera –and Monte Carlo –and is within
walking distance of the old town and the beach. Surrounded by a grove of orange
and lemon trees, this three-star hotel has a heated outdoor pool, very comfortable
rooms, a restaurant, and an invigorating Thai massage service, for around L15.
Prices start from L68 for a double, including breakfast.
•Luxury The .ve-star Royal Hotel in San Remo (royalhotelsanremo.+39 0184
5391) has great Mediterranean views and it boasts a new, state-of-the-art wellness
centre. Rooms cost from L158 per night, including breakfast and use of facilities.
to get there
Nice is the obvious gateway to the Riviera dei Fiori. Fly from Belfast, Birmingham,
Bristol, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Stansted, Manchester
and Newcastle. Try British Airways (ba.com; 0870 850 9850); bmibaby (bmibaby.com;
0871 224 0224); easyJet (easyjet.com; 0871 244 2366) and Jet2 (jet2.com; 0871
226 1737). Prices start at around L50
with kind permission of easyJet.
find out more
o Log on to bordighera.it to read about the town. For the Riviera, check out rivieradeifiori.com and www.bordighera.com.