A European Detour to … Ventimiglia and Bordighera

France is great and all, but it’s nice every once in a while to get the breath of fresh air that comes with exploring a different culture…

We were staying in the south of France in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, very close to the Italian border, which is amazingly beautiful in its own right (more to come on that on a later post).  But being so close to the border, we just had to cross over into Italy to explore 3 towns: Ventimiglia, Bordighera, and Dolceacqua.  I’ll talk about Dolceacqua in a later post (it’s so beautiful it deserve its own post).  First things first – Ventimiglia.


Ventimiglia is the first town you hit on the Riviera just after the border.  It’s famous for its Friday market right along the boardwalk.  You can find a bit of everything at this market – kitchen supplies, pasta, shoes, clothes, leather goods, knickknacks, knock-offs – you name it, they got it.  Our friend and host, Maria, was quite the bargain-hunter, so following her, we were able to find some good deals for clothes.


With Claudia (third from the right) and her happy helpers at a wonderful leather goods stand at the Ventimiglia Market.

Sadly, I didn’t take too many photos here – I was too busy shopping (a girl has her priorities!) and trying to avoid the pickpockets in this crowded environment.  But after the market closed, I was able to take a few shots of the surrounding town.



The old part of Ventimiglia


Pedestrian bridge over the Roya River, which divides the old and new parts of Ventimiglia


And of course, one can’t write about Italy without talking about the food!  Our first meal ended up being at a random restaurant by the market in which the service was seriously lacking (as can be expected at a restaurant located in a tourist area), but the pesto gnocchi was to die for.


The gnocchi was light and fluffy, like eating little clouds of pesto

Before my first trip to Italy 8 years ago, a former co-worker told me, “You must eat gelato every day that you’re in Italy!”  I haven’t forgotten that advice down to this day…


Amazing gelato for one euro!!!  Gotta love Italy!


Where Ventimiglia is a bit raw and lively, one can tell that Bordighera is a quieter, more elegant town for the wealthy.  Located about a 15 minutes drive east from Ventimiglia, Bordighera also sits on the Italian Riviera.  Instead of taking a walk along the beach (where everyone else was on this sunny Saturday), we decided to first take a walk inland to see some of the beautiful bougainvillea-lined streets.


If only you were able to smell how wonderful this was..


Beautiful bougainvillea



Just one of the beautiful homes in the area


After walking around, we ended our tour of Bordighera at the beach, where I ended the day with a typically Italian drink, the Spritz.


The composition of Spritzes differ, but they’re usually made with prosecco, some type of bitters, and topped with sparkling water.  It was a perfect beach drink.

Overall, I found Ventimiglia and Borghera to be 2 widely different, but interesting towns lying on the Italian Riviera.  It’s definitely worth a visit over the border if you’re visiting the south of France.

Coming next… the sweet waters of Dolceacqua…

  • La Grotta, Passeggiata Oberdan 23, Lungomare di Ventimiglia. +39 0184 33440. http://www.lagrottaventimiglia.com (Disclaimer: Don’t expect much in the way of service, but it is decently priced and they have a variety of pizzas and pastas.  Another advantage is that they do gluten-free pizzas.)
  • Voglia di Gelato, Via Milite Ignoto 13, Ventimiglia.  +39 327 260 8544. Excellent gelato for only 1 euro!!! 

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