From the Balzi Rossi, a stone’s throw from the Italian-French border, to the Riviera delle Palme. Here’s what you absolutely shouldn’t miss
The west coast of Liguria is a magnificent area waiting to be discovered.
Here we give you a taste of some of its delights.
Both the reddish cliffs (to which it owes its name) and the crystalline sea make this stretch of coast, the ‘home’ of our Cro-Magnon ancestors, resemble a small corner of Sardinia. Of great significance is the Caviglione Cave where there is a triple burial dating back 25,000 years, and the famous wall incision of a wild horse. The Capo Mortola protected marine area encompasses Latte beach, and just a short way away we also find the beautiful Hanbury Botanical Gardens. For a refreshing swim and seafood specialties (perhaps a nice plate of fresh Sanremo shrimps), try the Spiaggetta dei Balzi Rossi restaurant, which on Tuesday evening becomes the venue for live music and on Thursdays an amazing outdoor cinema with a large screen in water. For accommodation, we recommend the Fairmont hotel in Monte Carlo, a few kilometres over the border.
A small pearl of the west coast made even more captivating by the medieval charm of Bordighera Alta, enclosed within its pentagonal walls; the charm of Capo Sant’Ampelio (the southernmost point of Liguria), with its iconic church built on the rocks; the exotic beauty of the Pallanca Gardens on the slopes of Monte Nero overlooking the sea, with the largest collection of cacti and succulents in Europe (more than 3,000 varieties); the 19th century Villa Etelinda and Villa Garnier. and the monumental trees to be found here and there. For a bite on the beach try the Maoma Beach restaurant, while for overnight accommodation we recommend the exclusive Grand Hotel Bordighera, with its a roof garden overlooking the sea.
THE BEST BEACHES OF THE RIVIERA DELLE PALME
The blue sea takes your breath away along the Riviera della Palme, a 70km stretch of varied coast line. Particularly suitable for families, are the long sandy beaches of Loano and Borghetto Santo Spirito. For the more adventurous only, Punta Crena Beach is a small cove set between white limestone cliffs which can be accessed either from the sea or via a demanding path equipped with ropes that starts from Varigotti. Nearby is the wider Baia dei Saraceni, where for some metres the seabed consists of a smooth shelf of so-called “beach rock” just below the surface of the water. Reserve table for dinner at the Michelin-listed Muraglia-Conchiglia d’Oro and then enjoy the hospitality of the nearby Mare Hotel.