The origin of “Riviera dei Fiori”

Sea & Land

The term Riviera leads us back to many characteristic features of the Italian coastline. It originates linguistically in Liguria, and was first cited in an ancient notary document from Savona dating back to 14th June 1180. The name however becomes associated with images of artistic beauty with the expansion of trade and the onset of the Grand Tour. The mild Riviera climate, its enchanting landscapes and luxuriant nature are so highlighted that the name no longer defines a geographical area, but the tourist profile of a territory which has become an objective for long winter vacations, including for health reasons.

In 1925, thanks to the initiative of Mario Calvino, the father of the famous writer, the first experimental Research Station for Floriculture is born, a unique research centre. At the same time, Calvino also promoted a floricultural exhibition in Ventimiglia which, after the creation of the Autonomous Board “Flower Exhibitions” and the substantial investments by the administration, moves to Sanremo and becomes the nationally important “Floriculture Biennial” in 1932. This event continued every two years until 1938 when it was suspended, together with the Casino, because of the war and was only begun again in 1949. According to numerous local historians, the term “Riviera dei Fiori” (the Flower Riviera) already belonged to the common language before the war, and probably derived from associating Riviera – the location – with these important events devoted to flowers.

The first certain citation of “Riviera dei Fiori” may be found in a reply by Nino Lamboglia, the founder and director of the International Institute for Liguria Studies, given to a reader of the “Rivista Ingauna e Intemelia” magazine, dated 1st July 1946 (a magazine which covered the areas from Albenga to Ventimiglia), in which the archaeologist critically reviews the term “born a few months ago between Rome and Sanremo” and assists in defining its geographical scope: “a Riviera in flower from Alassio to Ventimiglia”. This term often incorrectly defines the territory between Andora and the Ventimiglia border, although the term appears well beyond these confines in  the resolutions of the Municipality of Alassio.

The question answered by Lamboglia has therefore defined the Riviera dei Fiori as a commonly accepted term used on a daily basis, a charming tourist appellation whose major point of interest is represented by Sanremo.