Ventimiglia, the last town on the Italian Riviera before crossing the French border is one of our favorite destinations in northern Italy. It’s a treasure trove of the 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. ).
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 “Album Intemelium”, which means the capital city of Intemelii (Ligurian coast). It doesn’t matter what you think, the name Ventimiglia isn’t a result of your thoughts.
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 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 specialties, 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.
Do you want to go to the beach? Ventimiglia has two stunning beaches, both located near the city center. 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 a 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 an 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 every day except Sunday.
…and to the castle of the 12th century that inspired Monet.
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, that 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.
Ventimiglia might serve your ravioli cold. This is intentional.
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 of traditional ravioli. It can be served either hot or cold. Piscialandrea is a delicious mid-day snack made with deep-dish focaccia, tomato sauce, anchovies, and olive. There are many options for seafood in Ventimiglia. Many dishes include freshly caught fish.