Aug 3rd, 2007, 11:12 PM
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Apart from the market day mentioned on other posts, what has Ventimiglia got going for it? Because of a French rail strike I was forced to overnight there in 1978 before continuing to Nice early next day and all I can remember are the stillness and beautiful hues of the Mediterranean dawn. Would Ventimiglia be a relatively low key but still very accessible alternative to other more fancied spots on either side of the French/ Italian border for those looking for that kind of place?
farrermog is offline  
Aug 4th, 2007, 04:00 AM
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I've been to Ventimiglia twice and both times could not get out of the place fast enough. A far better plan is to stay at Menton. Lovely seaside French border town; beautiful, great restaurants, good apartments/lodging, clean, and safe.

Somebody posted the name of a village up from Ventimiglia that looked like an outstanding alternative for a stay in that area and very good value. I never found the post again, but did checked the weblink he posted and it looked tops. Can anybody help in the context of this poster's inquiry?
Viajero2 is offline  
Aug 4th, 2007, 04:25 AM
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Bordighera on the Italian side is considered to be one of the nicest towns near the French border, and it is low key and undertouristed. Between Genova and the French border there are in fact lots of seaside Italian towns that most foreign tourists never visit but which have marvelous food and beautiful historic structures. Some of them also have a lot of modern condo/hotels and there are some indutstiral ports and power plants.

If you are looking to stay out of the tourist scrum, these places, including Ventimiglia, can make for a fascinating vacation. But not every corner of them is pretty.

Think, too, what you want to eat. The minute you cross the border into Italy, you'll be eating Italian food. Ventimiglia may allow more French into its cooking, however.

To me, Menton is just okay. Food is good, but it has something of a retirement home feel and lot of 70s apartment buildings. I felt like I was in Florida or SoCal. The Italian Rivera is poorer than the French Riviera, but it's often more fun and romantic. (I do love Nice, however).
fall06 is offline  
Aug 4th, 2007, 08:07 PM
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Many thanks Viajero2 and fall06. I'll keep Bordighera in mind.
farrermog is offline  
Aug 4th, 2007, 08:13 PM
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Just to add our thoughts - we went thru Ventimiglia (we changed trains). I would agree with Viajero2 -- it seemed like a place where you would NOT want to stay very long!
nanabee is offline  
Nov 1st, 2009, 09:22 PM
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'But why Ventimiglia?' - that's the question New Zealander Carolyn McKenzie asks in Portraits of the Riviera, her engaging and informative account of renovating an apartment in medieval Ventimiglia Alta and her ramblings around the region (in Italy and France). For coastal Liguria she rates traffic-free Cervo as 'perhaps the prettiest and liveliest of all the coastal destinations'.
farrermog is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 01:19 PM
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Sorry to rain on another parade, but we've been in Bordighera twice (stayed once) and still cannot find the charm there either. OTOH we spent a week in Menton, using it as a base to explore some of the French Riviera and the mountainous area north of Menton, and loved both Menton and the day trips we took from there. Saorge, Tende and the river valley they are on, couldn't be lovelier but be warned there are plenty of hairpin curves on the way.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 01:38 PM
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Whether one likes the Italian Riviera or the French Riviera seems to be one of those subjective calls that divides the planet. I don't expect people to change their stripes. There a many parts of France and French culture that I enjoy, or at least used to enjoy, but on the whole I find Italian culture (and Italian food) more to my liking.

The appeal of historic border towns like Ventimiglia (Port Bou on the cusp of the French/Spanish border also springs to mind) or Bordighera is hard to explain if there isn't a fundamental predisposition to feel more at home in shifty, shifting places than those with a firmly anchored identity. Menton decisively threw over its Italian heritage in favor of being middle-class French. I find it less interesting than other more confused places.

Cervo is picture postcard pretty, with great food, enough to attract a lot French, in fact.
stepsbeyond is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 01:48 PM
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Here is a picture of Ventimiglia Alta:

Bordighera used to be the site of the International European film festival, which was later moved to Cannes during the time the Fascists ruled Italy. Here is a picture of the Grand Hotel Angst in Bordighera, which fell into permanent disuse and disgrace after the Fascists commandeered it for a prison:

And the sunnier side of Bordighera, beloved and often painted by Monet:

stepsbeyond is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 04:27 PM
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I didn't even like the market in Ventimiglia. And I am a market maven. I'm sure there's something positive about Ventimiglia (probably some sort of authenticity thing), but I've never seen it. Even San Remo has more charm, and SR is the ultimate shabby-chic destination IME.

I do agree about Italian food, though. Diehard francophile that I am, I do prefer Italian food.
StCirq is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 05:32 PM
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having seen both sides of the border, I would rather stay in Menton than the Italian side ( Liguria)
danon is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 07:00 PM
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The thing about the Riviera is that it is painfully obvious that France had a better economy than Italy for many decades, and the evidence is in the "poorer" and less attractive Italian towns along the Med. One can argue for the France or the Italian side, but the differences are still very much apparent. Ventimiglia for most visitors is a quagmire of bad traffic, ugly scenery, and just "cheap" scenery. It's so obvious - the change in what the average person has to look at, once you cross the border into Italy. It's not a value judgment, it's just so plain to see. Italy was a much poorer country for a very long time and it shows.

They still have better food.
StCirq is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 03:34 AM
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Are there any pretty seaside towns (other than Cervo) between Genoa and the border that would make a good base for exploring that part of Liguria?
ekscrunchy is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 03:56 AM
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Bookmarking as I search for the town with the best of both countries...
TDudette is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 04:59 AM
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Again, there is nothing to argue about. How individual people to react to the wealth of a place is as much a part of travel planning as anyplace else. Monaco gets as many negative reviews from visitors as Ventimiglia does. It is a value judgment, what you are describing as the typical reaction to the Italian Riviera. I'm not saying visitors shouldn't apply their values or make judgemets. Rather, I'm suggesting that one of the more interesting parts of being a visitor to a different country is finding out why one has the reactions one does. But if you only want to be in places that have a certain value, nobody should make you vacation elsewhere. You won't enjoy it.

Also, I may be less sensitive, or you may be exaggerating, but the less-affluent economy of the Italian Riviera hardly induces -- at least in me -- a feeling a painful poverty. It's really no different than many, many unaffluent parts of Nice. Or Marseilles. (Except, as you point out, the food is better!)

Had the affluence of France been used to preserve more of the historic character of the French Riviera, I would find the French Riviera as attractive a destination as I do the Italian Riviera. But instead something else took over. But admittedly, it's easier to get around. (And truth be told, the pastries are better.)

ekscrunchy and TDudette,

Are you familiar with these websites:

And you can use the search features of this website to locate wineries with accommodations in the province of Imperia, some of which are quite close to the sea, although the mountains can be just as nice

You can also use these website to search for places to stay on olive farms in Imperia. Olives are more important to the region than wine:
stepsbeyond is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 05:11 AM
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You might find this interesting
stepsbeyond is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 05:15 AM
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Just to show that my thinking isn't simplistic, I'll add that I am not at all a fan of the French Riviera and I absolutely loathe Monaco. It's not about poverty as opposed to wealth for me at all. It's in large part about what's pleasing to the eye, and the measure of pleasantness just starts to tank after you pass the French border into Italy in that region.
StCirq is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 05:21 AM
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Bordighera would be my choice as well (try Hotel Piccolo Lido or Villa Elisa), but you can make a nice day trip to the gorgeous Hanbury Gardens just outside Ventimiglia.
meganinitalia is offline  

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