About 20 miles East of Nice ends the French Riviera and begins the Italian Riviera or like we also call it the Flower Riviera. On the highway a big board greets the visitors with “Benvenuti in Italia” which means Welcome to Italy.
Once you pass the border, it is amazing how the landscape changes. While on the French side everything is very manicured, the Italian side is much more authentic. You can see lots of greenhouses and olive tree plantations on terraces. While the main source of income on both sides is tourism, in Liguria a lot of the income is also generated from agricultural activities.
One of the nicest towns along the coast is Sanremo. It is the capital of the Flower Riviera. Before the lockdown, I used to go there at least once a month, but now, it must be over a year that I last came to visit. Today it is more than a visit though. I have come to Sanremo with a mission, I want to set up a new tour. A tour which will include lots of tastings of the local specialities.
It is 10am in the morning, the streets are quite animated with pedestrians. You can hear a concert of “Ciaos” and “Buongiorno” echoing through the streets. Here everybody knows everybody and everyone greets everyone. While I am sipping a delicious Italian Capuccino and enjoying a tasty cornetto (a kind of Croissant), I am entertained by the “Divina Comedia” that the Italians know so wonderfully to perform every day.
My next stop is at the Panificcio (bakery) where I want to taste the specialty of the house. The Signorina behind the counter tells me that everything in their shop is a specialty and she keeps serving me biscuits, cake, bread and cookies. I better leave, this place is dangerous….
Just across the street, I enter my favorite place: the huge market hall. A temple of food and specialties. Mario wants me to try his newest goat cheese spread and the olives from his grand father’s farm. 2 stalls further they sell the famous Pesto from Liguria. A piece of buffalo mozzarella here, a focaccia there. At the exit, a vendor offers a homemade sweet roll and I cannot resist.
I decide to make a break and to take a walk through the medieval part of Sanremo: the Pigna. What a contrast, here, just across the street from the buzzling city center, time stands still. A great place to take some unique photographs and to walk off the calories of the past hour.
Back in the new part of town, I search for the place with the best Sardinaira and the Torta Verde. They are both local specialties. I am very happy with the shop I find, served fresh out of the oven by a charming young man… absolutely delicious. A stroll down the main street, the famous Corso Matteotti for some people watching in my favorite Café while drinking an aperitivo.
It’s already 12h30, that means time for lunch in Italy. I am not really hungry, but like they say “when in Rome, do like the Romans do”. Among the many local Restaurants, I have a few favorites and today I choose the one serving ‘light’. Burrata, fresh tomatoes and egg plant beignets. While enjoying my meal, I really enjoy the beautiful setting of the square and I already see myself sitting here with my future tour guests. I am sure they will enjoy this too. Maybe they will even have some space left for a great Italian gelato. I will pass today, maybe next time.
Maybe next time could be with you. If you think this sounds tempting, then check out my new tour: The Italian Market and Food Tour.