Ventimiglia is located directly on the border with France. It is the third biggest city in the province of Imperia. It is bisected by the river Roia and is part of what is called the Italian Riviera. The town has around 26.000 inhabitants.
Ventimiglia travel guide
Ventimiglia has two different tourist offices. The first one is called Info ed Accoglienza Turistica and is located in the Via Roma Angolo Lungo Roja (phone: +39 01841928309). The second one is the Infopoint Centro Storico (address: Via Garibaldi, 10; phone: +39 0184-351183). The email adress is the same for both of them: email@example.com.
How to get there public transport
The nearest airport is the one in Nice (40 Km.). The second nearest one is the small one in Albenga (80 KM.), while the airport of Genua is 150 Km. from Ventimiglia.
Ventimiglia is on the railway line Rome–Genua–Marseille–Nice. There are also trains from Torino via Cuneo.
How to get there by car
- From France: Follow the autostrada A8.
- From Genoa and Savona: Follow the A10
- From Cuneo and Limone: Follow the SS20
- From Torino: Follow the A6 and then the A10.
For tourists the city can be divided into three parts. The archeological area of Ventimiglia is located to the east of the modern city. Attractions in this part of the city include the Roman theater, baths, domus, mosaics and insulae, plus the harbor of Provenza.
Medieval Ventimiglia, with its city walls and grey houses can be find on the right bank of the river Roia. The main sights in this district are the Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral, the octagonal Baptistery, the baroque Sant’Antonio Abate Church and the Convent of the Lateran Canonichesse. The main street is the Via Garibaldi and is lined with historic buildings. Locals call this part of the city Ventimiglia Alta. From here you can also enjoy a gorgeous view over the surrounding area.
Modern Ventimiglia is divided between the center to the north and the Lungomare to the south. It is here that most shops and hotels catering to tourists are found. The Lungomare, like all coastal boulevards in Italy, is full of bars, restaurants and beach establishments. Attractions are the Hanbury Gardens, with their exotic plants and the Grotte dei Balzi Rossi, where traces of prehistoric people have been found.
The Hanbury Gardens, in the suburb of Mortola Inferiore, are among the best known Italian gardens. These botanical gardens are divided into several secions, including an Australian rain forest.
People with private means of transportation can visit the countryside, with beautiful medieval villages dotted on the hillsides around Ventimiglia.
The highest point in the territory of Ventimiglia is called Monte Grammondo (1400 m).
The climate is mediterranean, except when a cold wind called tramontana arrives fromt the Valle del Roia.
Ventimiglia is particularly popular in the summer. The biggest part of the tourist population is from Piemont or Lombardy.
Although Ventimiglia is an exact translation of “20 miles”, this is not where the name comes from. In reality it derives from Intemelio, the name of the local dialect spoken in this part of Imperia.
A brief history of Ventimiglia
It is thought that the original settlement of Ventimiglia was located near the valley of the river Nervia. The Romans, after conquering the city in the 2nd century BC, then moved it closer to the mouth of the river.
Julius Caesar made the city into a municipality to reward it for its loyalty to the empire.
Remains of the ancient Roman theater can still be visited.
After Augustus had had the Via Julia Augusta built, Ventimiglia expanded till what is the present center of Sanremo. The city developed according to the classic Roman system with two main roads, the Cardo and the Decumano, intersecting at right angles with the smaller roads.
The Lombard king Rotari invaded Ventimiglia in 644. The inhabitants moved to the right bank of the river Roia.
In the early 9th century the city became part of the Charlemagne’s kingdom.
Later it first became an independent city, but was later conquered by the Republic of Genua. Despite being contested by various factions in the area, it always remained more or less connected to this republic.
From the early 15th till the end of the 18th century Ventimiglia shared Genua’s history.
After Napoleon’s fall and the congress of Vienna Ventimiglia became part of the kingdom of Sardinia.
In 1945 the city was occupied by the French, but returned to Italy after the war had ended.
Events and festivals
One of the best known festivals in Ventimiglia is the Battle of the Flowers (Battaglia dei Fiori). It takes place in June and consists of flower bedecked carts going through the streets of the city.
Another main event is the Agosto Medievale (“Medieval August”) with a parade through the center of the city.