Monet, Bordighera and the Beodo

Art & Culture, Sea & Land

“Everything is wonderful, the countryside is more beautiful every day and I am bewitched by the town”. This is how Monet described the landscape of Bordighera in a letter to his Paris merchant in January 1884, when he arrived in the Ligurian Riviera. The great impressionist artist was enchanted by the light and colours which he defined as “pure magic”.

During his stay in the city of palms, Monet lodged at the Pension Anglaise and wandered tirelessly with his easel searching to capture the beauty of the landscape.

In 79 days he painted an astonishing 38 pictures, setting views of villas, panoramas and gardens on his canvases.

He worked “en plein air”, trying to capture everything that struck him: the shimmering sea, the exotic palms and the exuberant vegetation on the Bordighera hills. He was particularly struck by the Moreno garden, so much so that he dedicated a picture to this. “A garden such as this one does not resemble anything – wrote Monet – it is simply wonderful, all the plants in the universe seem to grow there spontaneously”. The painting is now exhibited at the Norton Gallery and School of Arts in Palm Beach.

Another view that inspired the artist was the hill at the back of the historic city centre, crossed by what was once the aqueduct which supplied water to the houses and the countryside and which is now a magnificent path, the so-called “Beodo”. The path begins just after the upper town (towards Via dei Colli), passes under a tunnel and climbs up the valley of the Sasso stream along an old mule track. It then carries on halfway up the slope, along the dry-wall terraces between mimosas and gorse, olive trees, succulents and clumps of palms. The first section overlooks the coast, then it turns inland until it reaches the small village of Sasso. Simply strolling along the beodo ensures rediscovering the magic of nature and of its colours, which so enchanted the artist. Monet paints precisely the Sasso valley during one of his excursions, in addition to a farm which stood next to the aqueduct.

The municipality of Bordighera has named the gardens on the Via Romana, once part of the now-vanished Moreno Gardens, after Claude Monet.

[Samirah Muran]