Riviera di Ponente Attractions
To the west of the Gulf of Genoa is the Riviera di Ponente (From Genoa to Ventimiglia), with a more equable climate than the Riviera di Levante. The coastal plain is wider, accommodating many large resorts with numerous first-class hotels and (for the most part) excellent beaches.
Along the Riviera di Poneta (about 165km,102 miles)
From Genoa, the road runs west from the station, past the Old Harbour, and comes to Cornigliano Ligure.
Cornigliano Ligure (10m/33ft) is a busy suburb of Genoa, with a new industrial area extending some 800m/880yd into the sea on reclaimed land. Beyond the town a good road goes off on the left to Genoa's Cristoforo Colombo Airport. To the right, on a high conical hill, is the church of the Madonna del Gazzo (421m/1,389ft).
Pegli (6m/20ft) is a popular resort for holidays and weekends throughout the year, with beautiful parks and villas. Near the station is the Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini (1837), with an archeological museum (Museo Civico di Archeologica Ligure) and a park extending up the hillside, with various water features, grottoes, an underground lake and a medieval-style castle. In the Villa Doria, also near the station, is the Genoa Naval and Maritime Museum, with mementos of Columbus.
Voltri (5m/17ft) is Genoa's last industrial suburb, with the attractive large park of the Villa Galliera. At the upper end of the park is the pilgrimage church of the Madonna delle Grazie (fine views). Beyond Voltri the road leaves the extensive built-up area of Genoa.
Arenzano (6m/20ft), a charmingly situated resort (good beach) with an old castle and a beautiful park around the Villa La Torre. The road then runs inland past a promontory covered with woodland and macchia and returns to the coast.
Varazze (5m/17ft; pop. 15,000), a summer and winter resort, prettily situated amidst orange-groves, with a beach 2km/1.25mi long.
Celle Ligure (44m/145ft) is an attractive resort above which is a fine old pinewood.
Albisola Marina (19m/63ft), is a popular resort with a beach of fine sand. 1km/0.75mi north is the little town of Albisola Superiore, with the Villa Gavotti, formerly called the Villa delle Rovere, in which Pope Julius II (1503-13) was born.
Beyond Albisola Marina the road comes in another 3km/2mi to the town of Savona (10m/33ft; pop. 75,000), a provincial capital situated on the River Letimbro, with an important harbor (export of cars) and a variety of industry (large steel rolling-mill). On the harbor quay stands the Torre Pancaldo, named after the navigator of that name. In Via Paleocapa is the church of San Giovanni Battista (16th and 18th centuries), with paintings by Savonese artists of the 17th and 18th centuries. A little way south the Pinacoteca Civica houses pictures, sculpture and majolica. Close by is the cathedral (1604; façade 1886) with a fine painting "The Ascension" by Ludovico Brea (c. 1500).
Vado Ligure (12m/40ft; pop. 9,000) is an industrial town at the junction of the old Roman Via Aurelia with the beginning of the Via Iulia Augusta. The S.S. 1 (Via Aurelia) skirts Capo Vado (lighthouse; fine view back towards Savona), an attractive stretch of road which for part of the way has been hewn out of the rock. Beyond the cape the rocky islet of Bergeggi, crowned by a Roman tower, can be seen on the left.
Noli (4m/13ft) is a charmingly situated little fishing town and seaside resort with a picturesque old town, remains of town walls, old towers, a castle and the late Romanesque church of San Paragorio (12th century). It is the birthplace of Antonio da Noli (1415-62), who discovered the Cape Verde islands. Events and celebrations are held throughout the year.
Beyond Noli the road goes through a tunnel (114m/376ft long) under Capo Noli and continues along the high overhanging cliffs of the Malpasso to (9km/5.5mi) Finale Ligure (3m/10ft; pop. 14,000), a prettily situated resort, with the Castelfranco (1342) above the town and the fine Baroque church of San Giovanni Battista. Near the station is an early Christian Capuchin church. 2km/1.5mi northwest is the walled village of Finalborgo, with a beautiful Romanesque-Baroque parish church. In the monastery of St Catherina (15th century) is an archeological museum containing material discovered locally. Still farther northwest in Perti is Castel Gavone with a fine keep. In the vicinity are limestone caves. Beyond Finale the road cuts across the Caprazoppa promontory.
Pietra Ligure (3m/10ft) is a resort (sandy beach) with an interesting church and a ruined castle on an isolated crag. On the hillside are the buildings of the Pietranuova sanatorium (sun and sea-air cures).
Loana (4m/13ft; pop. 13,000), a popular resort with a former Doria palace (1578), now the Town Hall. On the hillside is the former monastery of Monte Carmello. About 6km/3.75mi farther is the Grotta di Toirano (tour with guide, 1.5 hours). In the forecourt is the Museo Prehistorico (prehistoric history). View of the Ligurian Alps and Monte Carmo (1,389m/4,560ft). Beyond Loana there is an attractive view, to the right, of the Ligurian Alps, with Monte Carmo (1,389m/4,584ft).
Albenga (5m/17ft; pop. 22,000) has a picturesque old town center, town walls and many towers which belonged to noble families. Other features of interest are the Romanesque cathedral (11-14th centuries; lower part of facade fifth century) with three Romanesque-Gothic naves; the small early Romanesque church of Santa Maria in Fontibus (13th century); the Museo Ingauno e Battistero (fifth century baptistery, Liguria's most important early Christian work) and a Roman shipping museum. Near the Via Aurelia is the Ponte Lungo, a medieval bridge 147m/161yd long over the former course of the River Centa. Beyond Albenga the rocky islet of Gallinara (90m/297ft), with the ruins of a sixth century Benedictine abbey, can be seen.
Alassio (5m/17ft; pop. 14,000), a large and very popular resort with a beach of fine sand more than 3km/2mi long. On the seafront promenade stands an old watch-tower. Above stands the church of Santa Croce (11th and 12th centuries). The road continues along the precipitous coast, high above the sea.
Capo Mele (lighthouse), with a fine view of Alassio to the rear. Then on through Marina di Andora and round Capo Cervo.
Imperia (10m/33ft; pop. 42,000), a provincial capital, comprising the districts of Oneglia (to east) and Porto Maurizio (to west), separated by the broad stony bed of the River Impero. Porto Maurizio is picturesquely situated on the slopes of a promontory with the imposing cathedral of San Maurizio (1781-1832). The naval museum (Museo Navale Internazionale del Ponente Ligure) and the municipal picture gallery (Pinacoteca Civica) are worth a visit.
Arma di Taggia
Arma di Taggia (10m/33ft) is a resort with a beautiful beach, situated at the mouth of the River Argentina, or Fiumara di Taggia. 3km/2mi up the valley is the picturesque little town of Taggia (39m/129ft), with old patrician houses. In the church of the Dominican convent are pictures of the early Ligurian school.The Flea Market is held on the fourth Saturday and Sunday of every month.
To San Remo
8km/5 miles: San Remo.
Ospedaletti (30m/99ft) is a popular resort, a beautiful palm-shaded avenue, the Corso Regina Margherita.Beyond Ospedaletti the road continues along the steep and rocky coast, through beautiful scenery. To the left by the shore, is a fine park (private property). At the mouth of the Val del Sasso, are the Vallone Gardens, laid out by a German gardener named Ludwig Winter (d. 1912), also private property and not open to the public.
Shortly before Ventimiglia, is the entrance (on the right) to the remains of the Roman town of Albintimilium, with a theater (A.D. second century ).
Ventimiglia (9m/30ft; pop. 27,000), the frontier town, situated at the mouth of the River Roia, with an important flower market. In the new town, to the east of the river, are the Town Hall and the palm-shaded Giardino Pubblico; in the picturesque walled old town, on the hill west of the river, are the Romanesque cathedral, with an adjoining baptistery, and the 11th century church of San Michele (columns with Roman inscriptions). From the Piazzale del Capo, a little way south of the cathedral, there are magnificent views, extending westwards as far as Cap Ferrat.
From Ventimiglia there is a rewarding trip to the Giardino Hanbury with a variety of rare plants (about 6km/3.75mi west in Mortola Inferiore), laid out by the Englishman Thomas Hanbury.
One km/0.75mi west of the Giardino Hanbury, near the French frontier, are the Balzi Rossi, caves hewn from rock, which were inhabited in prehistoric times (skeletons, etc. in the museum near the Barma Grande).
From Ventimiglia an attractive excursion can be made up the beautiful Nervia valley to the little town of Dolceaqua (50m/165ft), picturesquely situated on a hillside, with an old bridge 10m/33ft high, borne on pointed arches, and a ruined castle which was the ancestral home of the Doria family of Genoa.
4km/2.5mi from Dolceaqua is the village of Isolabona (ruined castle), and 2km/1.25mi beyond this in a side valley is the hill village of Apricale, clinging picturesquely to a steep hillside.