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

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.

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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.

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The old part of Ventimiglia

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

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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.

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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…

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

Bordighera

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.

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

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Beautiful bougainvillea

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Just one of the beautiful homes in the area

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

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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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