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Elegant Oldies

Classic yachts have a new rendezvous in Italy to start the Med season

The classic yacht season is officially open! What a thrill awaits classic yacht fanatics like me. The real big news is, in addition to the fabulous annual classic races taking place along the French and Italian Rivieras such as Monaco, Marseille, and Saint Tropez, a new event in Imperia, Italy, has been created to take place at the end of April.

It is the ideal occasion to see the billowing straight-line sails of these classics strut their stuff after their winter hibernation.
The historical beauties are as popular as ever and becoming increasingly so, as this new classic yacht meeting bears witness. The elegant oldies will make their season’s debut in Imperia, which is best known as the host port of the biannual Vele d’Epoca race week, which welcomes more than 100 traditional participating yachts; the next race week takes place September 2008.
The new Imperia classic meeting is hosted by Assonautica Imperia. Also involved is Imperia’s sister city, Newport, Rhode Island, in the U.S. – another capital for the congregation of international classic yachts. As well as drawing yachts built in the Spirit of Tradition, the meeting will also welcome charter brokers and classic yacht suppliers, so Imperia is a must visit for those wishing to charter in Europe. 
Genoa Overlap
With such excellent port facilities, it made sense for the town of Imperia to launch a brand new event and, timing-wise, they have made a good choice too. It is strategically timed to coincide with the annual Genoa Charter Show (April 30–May 4, 2007) so that visitors to their big neighbor can drop by – courtesy of a complimentary shuttle service (bus) between the two ports. Imperia’s port will even help ease the pressure of over demand for dock space in Genoa’s Mole Vecchio port, which will welcome superyachts from around the world to its 19th edition this year.

SS Delphine Shows Up
Attending the Imperia Classic Meeting will be yachts moored in the Mediterranean Sea, the United Kingdom, as well as the United States. The big star and flagship of the event will be the SS Delphine, with an impressive length of 257 feet (78.65 meters), making her the biggest “true classic” superyacht afloat. 
She was built in 1921 and still has her original and unique quadruple-expansion steam engines designed by the first owner, Horace Dodge of American automobile fame; they are in perfect working condition today! She can be chartered for up to 26 guests overnight or up to 160 day passengers for a wedding or other special event. Current owners spent six years on essential restoration work and, when the job was completed, the ship was re-christened in September 2003, by H.S.H. Princess Stephanie of Monaco. In 2004 she received the annual Showboats award for best refit. Also participating in the event is the Van Bent-built Life. This interesting yacht built in the ’50s is chartered every year by Italian actress Sophia Loren for the Cannes Film Festival.
The fairytale Principality of Monaco where Princess Stephanie resides with the Prince’s family is mere nautical miles away from Imperia and Genoa, so make sure you mark Monaco on your sailing itinerary if attending the two boat events. The Monaco Formula One Grand Prix, which takes place May 24–27, may entice you to linger in the Med after the Italian shows.
Pretty Imperia
The picturesque ports of Oneglia and Porto Maurizio in Imperia provide the perfect setting for the classic yacht meeting. Surrounded by local cafes, shops, and restaurants, you are sure to get a taste of the local food and lifestyle. Imperia was once the capital of Liguria and its streets are littered with evidence of its architectural and artistic heritage. It is also home to some beautiful gardens in which citrus trees and rare botanical species thrive. Not far from the port are the Città di Rosario gardens on the grounds of a former convent.
If you decide to leave your yacht and stay over in town, the Hotel Rossini Al Teatro is the natural choice for luxury and style. The futuristic, avant-garde design of this four-star hotel ensures it stands apart and rivals architectural ghosts of the old theatre, whose former site it stands upon. You can enjoy cocktails in the lounge, which is fitted with contemporary décor and designer armchairs and sofas, or relax in the floor-to-ceiling glass scenic tower with a panoramic view of the town. Doubles/suites 140-250€.

Whale Spotting
Between Imperia and Genoa you may spot some whales as the International Whale Sanctuary covers the huge area from San Remo to Tuscany in the Mediterranean Sea. Dolphins are guaranteed – no surprise as the Med is inhabited by one of the highest concentrations of whales and dolphins, which are protected by RIMMO, a reserve created by Prince Rainier III of Monaco and actress Brigitte Bardot.
Genoa, known as the door of the Mediterranean, can claim the famous Christopher Columbus as its son. He set sail from its port to discover America. You can visit the house and museum where he was born in Borga Lanaioli beside the medieval city gate, Porta Soprana. By night you will be guided by La Laterna, the symbol of Genoa and the yellow light that has directed seamen since 1543. This commercial port is huge and the best way to see it is to go up the Bigo for an incredible panoramic view. In fact, Genoa has three ports and it is Marina Porto Antico where lots of events and parties will take place during the charter show.
I can’t think of any reason to miss these spectacular events! See you there! 

Gastronomic delights
An event in Italy would be lost without a mention of food. A special chef’s competition will take place during the Imperia Classic Yacht Meeting. Ligurian specialties preserve the reputation Italy has for exquisite gastronomic cucina and sweet dolce. The secret lies in simple ingredients producing delicate results. Best known for its extra virgin olive oil, from sweet to bitter, it is derived from local olive groves and forms the basis for most dishes and the source of the healthy Mediterranean diet.

Whether dining in a gourmet restaurant under a pergola or an informal trattoria savor appetizing fresh pasta dishes, stuffed ravioli, pesto, meaty boar and rabbit dishes (during hunting season) with polenta as well as simpler fare such as a cundiun salad or a pan e pumàta (bread dampened with olive oil and spread with basil leaves and tomatoes), which are no less tasty. There is a choice of fragrant local wines, Rossese, Poggia, Vermentiono and Ormeasco to perfectly accompany each delicacy. While gastronomic fare is king the world renowned pizza is ubiquitous and most towns have their own specialty.

At the markets pick up quality, regional specialties; sun dried tomatoes, wine, olives, olive oil, focaccia bread, grissini (thin bread sticks), bruzzo and parmesan cheese, canestrelli (biscuits), stockfish and torta verde – a pie filled with tasty green vegetables and rice mixed with olive oil. Liguria is the most wooded area in Italy so for a change of scenery from the water you can stroll through scenic and peacefully quiet countryside among olive groves and vineyards, where connoisseurs can taste the exceptional vintages and DOC (Controlled Denomination of Origin) wines. 

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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