Paula Farquharson

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Yachting: Article

Stylish Sailing in Sanremo

It cleverly combines

Sanremo, an hour’s sail from the French border and a mere 20 miles east of fairytale Monaco, it is the perfect stop for those who crave the richness of a sophisticated city with none of the downsides - except for the crazy drivers! Thankfully the yachts adopt a more prudent approach when entering Porto sole! Sanremo boasts a modern and old port, a stylish casino, magnificent palazzos (including the renowned Nobel Villa), lush green gardens and an old town that is a haven for artisans. Its night life promises the best entertainment; you can start by learning the art of the aperitivo in its many bars.

The view as you enter the modern port of Porto sole is one of countless luxury yachts like other ports throughout the world but Sanremo is surrounded by hillsides of exotic tropical plants and palm trees, glass houses and terraced gardens ablaze with colourful flowers. No wonder the town is bestowed with the title of Città dei Fiori (flower town) with the slopes littered with glasshouses visible as you sail along the coast. It didn’t surprise me to discover that there are more than 2,000 botanical species in the many gardens here. As you dock your yacht the perfumed scent of citrus fruit trees in the air leaves you in no doubt of the mild micro climate the region enjoys.

Its privileged location is a draw for an international and elite crowd who enjoy la dolce vita and the delicious cuisine, local wines and spumante (Italian champagne). The luxury hotels and sumptuous villas along the coast and in the hills welcome visitors for the many events for which the city is famous, including the illustrious Sanremo Music Festival, running since 1951, the Milan-Sanremo bike race, the regattas at Easter-time and the Antique Car Rally in April. Not to mention the lure of the beaches; legend has it that the city was formerly named Matuzia, after the Goddess of the sea, who had a weakness for the beautiful gulf.

The town has historically always drawn international patrons so it’s not surprising that many street names reflect the influence of the English barons and Russian aristocrats, who fuelled the town’s major expansion in the latter part of the nineteen century and the early 1900’s. Corso dell’Imperatrice, one of the most famous promenades on the Riviera, owes its name to Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna, who after spending a winter here, donated the first palm trees to the city to embellish the Boulevard. To walk in her dainty footsteps from corso Matteotti to corso Matuzia will take you forty-five minutes. Along the way you can stop in for a visit to the Marsaglia Park, where the prestigious villa belonging to the Marsaglia family once stood and where now rare plants and flowers flourish. For a panoramic view of Sanremo and the gulf visit the Regina Elena gardens with its beautiful terraced gardens, created after an earthquake in 1887 destroyed the upper part of the old town (La Pigna).

The medieval town, La Pigna, which dates back to the year 1,000 is a hive of well-preserved network of steep and winding streets with arches, clinging to the hill. There is lots to see, just roam and keep your eyes peeled for neo-Gothic, neo-Renaissance and other period architectural treasures, churches, towers, frescos, fountains and squares - the place is steeped in history. The seventeenth-century baroque Sanctuary of the Madonna della Costa with its richly decorated interior and wooden statues by Anton Maria Maragliano is worth a visit; as is the Palace of Count Sapia Rossi on via Montà where Napoleon Bonaparte stayed in 1794.

A more modern attraction is the port itself; Porto sole covers an area of 83,000 sq. m. and docks more than 450 yachts and 50 fishing-boats and welcomes the luxury yachts of the world’s elite. The city’s other port, the older and smaller Porto Vecchio is used by the locals and where you can watch fishermen spill out their catch, which will likely land on your plate in the many seafood restaurants around town. Right beside the harbour is the ancient fort of Santa Tecla (a former prison) overlooking a lovely little restaurant Dick Turpin where you can eat al fresco in the warm spring air.

For dining you will find it difficult to choose from the numerous trattorias, ristorante and pizzerias. The gastronomic fare in Sanremo derives from local produce in particular the extra virgin olive oil from nearby Taggia. While each town along the Ligurian coast has its own pizza speciality Sanremo offers the ‘sardenaira pizza, slightly thicker than the norm, with tomatoes, anchovies, capers and garlic but without the cheese (used by sailors of old). Homemade pasta dishes and stuffed ravioli are ubiquitous of course but a cundiun salad or the simple pan e pumàta (hard bread dampened with water and olive oil and spread with tomatoes and fresh basil leaves) is what the locals dine on. Whatever you choose wash it down with an excellent Poggia or Bussana white wine.

At the market all the local food produced in the region is sold at half the price and double the quality. You can pick up wine, olives, olive oil, focaccia bread, grissini (thin bread sticks), bruzzo cheese and canestrelli (biscuits) to bring back on board. A favourite snack, “fast food” Italian style is the torta verde – a pie filled with delicious green vegetables and rice mixed with olive oil. You can visit the colourful market in Sanremo at Piazza Eroi Sanremesi, not far from the San Siro Cathedral on Tuesdays and Saturdays morning. It lures bargain hunters, many of whom come for the faux designer accessories. However, beware it is an offence to purchase counterfeit items although the police turn a very blind eye to the practice and the many illegal street vendors wander freely. In addition always ask for a receipt at the market as the Italian tax police are less lenient and do check – both seller and buyer can be fined!

More Stories By Paula Farquharson

Paula Farquharson is an editor of The Riviera Times newspaper. Originally
from Ireland, she worked in New York and is now based in Nice, France,
where she learned to sail.

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