Ventimiglia is the first town you will see crossing the borders with France. Its origin dates from the Roman times and part of its original village still stands and calls for exploring. The town is divided by the river Roya in the old and new part.
Far from the razzle-dazzle of its French neighbours, this place is more down to earth. Best visited on Friday, when the traditional open air market is held, combine it with lunch and few glasses of ice cold Prosecco or good Italian beer and you are guaranteed a good day.
How To Get There
The best option is by train. Take a train from any of the train stations in Nice, the journey takes about an hour and one way ticket will cost you €8. The trains run regularly, approximately every 45 minutes, the schedule can be found on SNCF website. Even if you have a car rented, if you are planning to visit on the day of the market – Friday, parking and the traffic can be a nightmare, so consider a train as your rather hassle free option.
Interesting Things To Do When There
Friday Outdoor Market
The best day to visit Ventimiglia is on Friday, when the market for which the town is famous is held. Over five hundred stalls in the city center and along the sea promenade are selling everything from clothes to shoes, leather accessories to handbags, linen, jewelry, household items and local art. The choice is huge and the quality can vary as expected on any market. Take your time going through the goods and you might end up with some interesting stuff.
The food stalls sell olive oils, homemade salamis, sausages, Parmesan, pastas, tapenades, pestos and other amazing and tasty stuff.
Fake brands can be purchased too, if it is your thing, and those sellers are opened to haggling. Just be quick as they are always on the move trying to avoid the glimpse of the local police (not that we support such a behavior but it is a part of this market).
Please don’t forget to take a receipt from everything you buy and keep it (except of the fake stuff, you’ll never get a receipt for that) as if the police stops you and you are not in possession of these recipes you might get a fine and your shopping gets confiscated.
The market is only a short walk from the train station (just walk straight ahead towards the sea). It starts every Friday at 8.00 and goes on till about 16.00.
Indoor Market & Shopping
On the way from the train station, you are going to pass a lively indoor market on Via Della Republica. It offers an impressive selection of fresh fruit, vegetables and amazing home produce such as truffle oils, tapenades, fresh pastas, pickled stuff and sauces.
It is open on weekdays between 7.00 and 13.00 and all day on Friday and Saturday.
On almost every corner you will find Eurodrink, a liquor store chain selling spirits, wine and other products for amazing value comparing to the other side of the border where the taxes are higher.
The mixture of shops and boutiques in Ventimiglia is not the usual outlets and high street brands but you can get some fantastic value on purchases such as Italian leather shoes, handbags and even tailored suits fixed within the same day.
The Old Town and The Beach
Old Ligurian town on the heights of Colla Sgarba is very different to the “new town”. Reached by the bridge across the River Roya and a short climb up, it is a maze of alleys, tunnels, tiny squares and courtyards. Somehow it managed to retain its original allure and charm, untouched by mass tourism. Quiet, as not many shoppers bother to visit, but, it is well worth your time.
This is the only sandy beach around Ventimiglia . To access it you need to walk a lovely scenic path lined with giant aloe plants, cactuses and wild flowers. The start of the walk is in the new port of Ventimiglia. The views from the cliffs are amazing and on a clear day you get to see as far as Esterel mountains near Cannes. The water is emerald green, but be aware that the beach is small and often packed with locals. There’s a bar on site where you can rent sun loungers and parasols for a small fee.