“Fancy a day trip to Italy?” These were the words I suggested to my sister when she came to visit me for a weekend in Nice. “Italy?!! Isn’t that ages away?’” she replied.
Ventimiglia is one of Italy’s closest towns to France and with train tickets costing just €6 each way from Nice Ville train station, taking a trip across the border couldn’t be easier! It does sound weird being able to pop across to another country for the day but I guess that’s the joy of not living on an island and the freedom of EU travel (for now at least but let’s not bring up the dreaded B word) With its brightly coloured houses and old fashioned charm, it was quickly decided that Ventimiglia would be our first ever Italian adventure!
From France, I crossed the Italian border by train which wasn’t difficult at all. The train which I always took to travel along the Cote d’Azur had Ventimiglia as its end destination and I had always been curious to see what it would be like. From Nice Ville train station, it took just under an hour and cost €6 each way (this is the reduced tariff for those aged 12-25 but it isn’t much more otherwise) The train station at Ventimiglia is in the centre of the new town so an ideal location to begin your exploring!
If you’re a sucker for brightly coloured and picturesque buildings like me, then this is the place for you. I can’t be the only one who can’t help but take out my camera the minute a pretty coloured wall comes into sight. The view of the old town from across the river is incredible and one I will never not be able to snap (even if it was raining when I visited!) But even the rain couldn’t put a dampener on those views – so top marks for charm appeal before even looking any further as to what else is on offer!
I didn’t really visit Ventimiglia with much of an agenda unlike the other places I have visited where I have a list of attractions, museums and places to eat and see there. My inner organisational freak had a little meltdown but it was soon clear that I wouldn’t be short of things to do – here’s a quick guide of places to go.
Visit the Old Town
The newer part of Ventimiglia is alright but nothing to write home about. What you reallyyy have to do is cross the river and head into the older part of the town where you can spend ages wandering through the small side streets and taking in the views. There is a main road connecting the two but a small pedestrian bridge ‘Passerella Squarciafichi’ is most definitely the scenic route.
There are a few sights to see in the old town including ‘la Chiesa di San Michele’ (San Michele’s Church) and ‘la Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta’ (Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta) I didn’t enter inside either of them but it’s nice to feel like you’re seeing a bit of culture even if it is just briefly!! I mainly spent my time just wandering around, taking multiple snaps of the cute little buildings (how can you not when they look like that!) and admiring the views across the river.
All of this exploring had left us feeling peckish and the restaurant we’d spotted at the end of ‘Passerella Squarciafichi’ sounded very tempting indeed. It was called ‘La Vecchia Napoli’ and I would 1000000% recommend going there if you’re in Ventimiglia.
It was as soon as I opened the restaurant door that it dawned on me I don’t know A WORD of Italian. ‘Ciao’ I said before breaking into a mixture of French and English (Italian is next on my language wishlist but let me master French first!) We decided to embrace the Italian life by ordering a marguerita pizza and aperol spritz because when in Italy, this just has to be done! The pizzas were AMAZING and freshly cooked in a pizza oven – and they cost just €5 each!!! You can barely get a supermarket frozen pizza for that so we left as two very happy and full up girls!
On a mid-december rainy Sunday, a trip to the beach wouldn’t normally be at the top of my to do list but I felt like it had to be done seeing as I was in the area. The beach is made up of a mixture of grey/black pebbles and sand and beautifully blue sea. I’m not going to lie, there was quite a lot of litter which had either been dumped or washed up but I’m sure this would get cleaned well before the high season. In general, there was quite a bit of rubbish in and around the town and the area seemed much less affluent than other nearby places but there was still a lot of beauty to be found (and like I said, I’m sure it all gets a good clean up before the tourists arrive in the summer months)
Places we missed
There were a few places I’d seen signs for when I was there which I didn’t get chance to visit – ‘Area Archeologica della Citta Romana di Albintimilium’ (or more simply, museum of archaeology) and the botanical gardens. I would also love to come back on a Friday when the market is in town. The town felt quite sleepy on a Sunday but, apparently, the place comes to life on a Friday with people coming from far and wide to visit the outdoor market which the town is renowned for. There are over 500 stalls selling almost anything from fruit, to flowers, to clothes. I guess that’s just a reason to come back another time though, right?
Although a little sleepy and less affluent than other places I’d visited nearby, Ventimiglia’s charm and quaintness (and the €5 pizzas!) make it a good place to add to your list. If you’re staying on the Cote d’Azur in France, it’s a cool one to see just to be able to say you visited another country for the day (or two if you count going through Monaco on the train but lets not get picky) All in all, a great day out and my taste for Italian adventures has officially begun!