Ventimiglia, the “Flower Gate of Italy.” a crossroads of worlds so close and yet often light-years apart, lying along the valley of the Roja River, between alpine landscapes only a few kilometers away and the warmth of the Mediterranean shore, it opens up to the Piedmontese valleys, the Principality of Monaco and France with the Côte d’Azur, and finally to the Riviera dei Fiori.
The balmy sea air, which returns to touch the mountains, gives life to a luxuriant vegetation; a celebration of plants, flowers, colours, fragrant essences that we also find in the luxuriant Hanbury Botanical Gardens, an authentic treasure trove of rare and often unique plants which, resting on the hilly promontory of Capo Mortola, degrade towards the sea, a meeting place of the European aristocratic elite in the recent past and destination for a multitude of careful visitors today. Here the coast is the place where the land juts out into the water, the memory of past glories merges with the great industriousness of the present and in this finds its synthesis, confirming the intimate connection that binds the Ventimiglia population to the maritime culture that originates in the Capo Mortola Marine Park, which sees the Mediterranean Sea as resource and heritage to protect while guaranteeing its tourist fruition.
In this luxuriant nature, which has welcomed the man since ancient times with the fruits of its land and the precious gifts of a generous sea, we find indelible tracks of a millennial history in Caves of Balzi Rossi, an archaeological site dating back to the Palaeolithic, rich in rock carvings and artefacts, remains of human and prehistoric animal burials which are preserved in the homonymous Museum located next to the Italian-French border. In the area below the museum, two among the most beautiful Mediterranean beaches – the Eggs Beach, characterised by rounded and white pebbles, and the beach set in the Beniamin Bay, with its crystal-clear emerald green water.
In the eastern suburb of the city, theArchaeological Area of Nervia testifies the importance of this territory in Roman times, the excavations still in progress and open to public, the splendid Roman Theatre, the remains of the spa complex and the numerous artifacts partially found in the museum building adjacent to the excavations and partially in the Girolamo Rossi Museum, located in the Annunziata Fort, are a destination for tourists and enthusiasts.
Walking on the promenade caressed by the sea breeze, the horizon sometimes framed by the overhanging rocks invites the gaze upwards, towards the old city with the bell tower of the Assunta Cathedral, erected as an austere and silent guardian of the territory which protects the houses and stone buildings, witnesses of the historical events that Ventimiglia has lived in the centuries. The majestic Porta Canarda stands out towards France – this is the first and most characteristic of the eight gates of the Ventimiglia historical city centre, followed by intact churches, palaces, squares and gardens in the medieval village inside the city wall.
Along the coast, in the strip of land between the sea and the hill, the modern city welcomes us and continuously evolves looking at the future on the drive of multiple economic and cultural interests – artistic and literary paths are offset by a centre full of commercial activities that lead the current economy and where, last but not least, the rich offer of foods stands out, with a gastronomic heritage guardian of traditions and where the culture of wine, olive oil and simple yet delicious sea products chorally tuned up the litany of the hard daily work.