Ventimiglia (Italy): 8 Surprising Facts about this Gem of Italy’s Riviera

Ventimiglia, the last town on the Italian Riviera before crossing the French border is one of our favourite destinations in northern Italy. It’s a treasure trove of Ligurian coastline with its beautiful history, stunning beaches, open-air market, and stunning gardens.

It’s also extremely convenient. From Genoa it takes approximately two hours to drive to Ventimiglia. It takes two and a quarter hours to travel by train. Here’s a tip if you drive by car: Pay attention to road signs that read “x.x.” miglia – that’s “Ventimiglia”.

These are five facts about the beautiful town of Capri on the Italian Riviera that you might not have known. Also, there are reasons to plan your trip. ).

Ventimiglia Alta. Photo by Clenpat (Wikicommons).

It doesn’t matter what you think, the name Ventimiglia isn’t a result of your thoughts.

The name “20 miles” is an Italian phrase that means “20 miles”. We did, too. But, no. It turns out that the name comes from an ancient Ligurian dialect called “Albium Intemelium”, which means capital city of Intemelii (Ligurian coast).

Ventimiglia’s oldest section is worth a visit. Go up.

Ventimiglia is divided by the Roia River into two parts: old and new. The old city walls surround Ventimiglia Alta, which is located on top of a hill. If you’re looking for some of the most historical gems in the city, including churches and ruins dating back to the 10th Century, then you need to go up. The Ligurian Sea is also visible from your balcony.


Ventimiglia’s Friday market. Photo by Patrick Rouzet

Ventimiglia Friday means shopping…on the beautiful boardwalk.

Ventimiglia has an open-air market. It’s located on the lungomare (boardwalk), which is the most beautiful spot in Ventimiglia. Open-air stands line the boardwalk on Friday offering bargains on handcrafted clothing, leather goods and furniture, as well as produce, Italian food specialities, wine and flowers.

You can’t make it Friday? It’s not a problem. You can find many of the same products at a smaller market on the same promenade each day except Sunday.

Near Ventimiglia, you will find some of the most beautiful beaches in Liguria.


Ventimiglia, on the Italian Riviera, is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy. Photo by Provenza (Flickr)

Do you want to go to the beach? Ventimiglia has two stunning beaches, both located near the city centre. The Spiaggia Dei Balzi Rossi (“Beach of the Red Jumps”) is actually an archaeological site. It’s surrounded by wild plants and cliffs. This is not your average beach! Spiaggia dielle Calandre, a traditional beach, is great for long walks and admiring (or even enjoying) the turquoise water. Surf’s up on breezy day so don’t forget your board!

Ventimiglia is the home of one of Italy’s most important libraries…

Ventimiglia is not just about beaches and promenades. The Biblioteca Civica Aprosiana is also located in this medieval town. This huge library is a must-see for bibliophiles. It was founded in 1648 by Angelico Aprosio, a writer and Augustan monk. It also houses the 2nd largest collection of manuscripts from the 17th century.

The library is also divided in two, much like Ventimiglia. Ventimiglia Alta houses the historic collection. You can also find a more recent collection in the city’s center. The best part is that both are open to all on every day except Sunday.

…and to the castle of 12th-century that inspired Monet.


Castello di Dolceacqua, located just outside Ventimiglia. Photo by Dongio (Wikicommons).

This castle, located about 15 minutes from Ventimiglia has been standing since 1177. Castello di Doria is sometimes called the castle after the royal family that it belonged. The castle and the tiny village are so beautiful, Claude Monet, an Impressionist painter, was inspired by them. The scene is featured in two of his masterpieces!

Now is your chance to be bombarded by flowers.

Local flower-lovers put in a lot of work throughout the year to prepare for the Battaglia di Fiori (or Battle of the Flowers) that is held every June. Ventimiglia is situated on the Riviera des Fiori (Riviera de Flowers). The two-day event’s main draw is the spectacular, themed parade with its many floats and dancers. You can watch the parade here. You can expect to be bombarded by flowers in all colors. You’ll be in good company as past participants include Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, and many others. ).


Hanbury Gardens. Photo by Olibac (Flickr).

Are you not going to the festival? There are still plenty of places to get your flowers. You can visit Hanbury Gardens just a short distance from Ventimiglia city center. It was founded by Sir Thomas Hanbury in late 1800s and boasts over 2,500 varieties of Mediterranean plants and flowers, as well as a stunning view.

Ventimiglia might serve your ravioli cold. This is intentional.


Barbagiuai is a Ventimiglia speciality. Photo by Lemone (Wikicommons).

We’ve repeatedly said that food in Italy is very regional. Ventimiglia’s cuisine is therefore unique.

Barbagiuai is a local specialty that includes cheese ravioli and crispy butternut squash. Barbagiuai is a variation on traditional ravioli. It can be served either hot or cold. Piscialandrea is a delicious mid-day snack made with a deep-dish focaccia, tomato sauce, anchovies and olive.

There are many options for seafood in Ventimiglia. Many dishes include freshly caught fish.