Imperia, founded in 1923 from the union of Porto Maurizio, Oneglia and nine ancient inland towns, offers a variety of different and rich stories and views.
With a mainly industrial background and a present renewed tourist vocation, the city offers the visitors unique and authentic experiences – the blue sea with its rich seabed, the Cetacean Sanctuary, the sailing boats and the fishing tradition together with the green of the gently hilly inland, suspended between small villages, vineyards and olive trees terracing. Imperia has two souls: Porto Maurizio and Oneglia.
The Parasio is the medieval district of Porto Maurizio, defended by a castle until 1700 – dating back to before the year 1000 – whose traces remain at the base of the charming Lodges of Santa Chiara that are annexed to the homonymous monastery. At the foot of the Parasio promontory, full of alleys facing the sea, stands the Basilica of San Maurizio, the biggest church in all Liguria.
The modern soul, that of Oneglia, evokes a past based upon industry, commerce, olive oil and whose ideal setting is the pier of Calata Cuneo. Its pastel-coloured fishermen’s houses have seen sailing ships and vessels for oil and wheat trade, now replaced by modern and luxury yacht.
Imperia today develops around the strong link of the soil with the cultivation of the olive tree, which is well described in the Museum of Olive Tree C. Carli and the event “Olioliva, festa dell’olio nuovo” (“Olive oil, the feat of the new oil”) and the local oil tradition. Imperia relives its maritime tradition with the new port of Borgo Marina in Porto Maurizio, one of the largest and best equipped marinas in the Mediterranean Sea, with thousands of berths and a dock for vessels of all lengths. Every year in September, the gathering of the vintage sails is held at Calata Anselmi, with the “Queens of the sea” coming from all the world.
The Naval Museum of Porto Maurizio is a sign and testimony of the origin of the seafaring tradition – walking around the museum rooms it almost seems to smell the scent of sea and legend made of long sailing, technique and brave men.
Not to be forgotten is the Museum of Contemporary Art M.A.C.I., which develops in the elegant exhibition venue of Villa Faravelli and hosts the contemporary art collection of the Genoese architect Lino Invernizzi, one of the most representative and complete private collections of figurative art of the 1900s in Italy.
Villa Grock is also noteworthy, a “revisited” Art Nouveau jewel, result of the design and project of the multifaceted clown-artist Grock (Adrien Wettach), and now used as a museum structure with the wonderful park enriched with bizarre architectures and extravagant geometries, chosen today as a venue for outdoor events. Imperia comes to life in the evening, like any seaside town, in its several venues and restaurants on the sea, from Borgo Marina to Calata Cuneo and in all its splendid villages.