By Antonio Malara
For us Italians, the city of Sanremo has always been identified with the Italian song festival that has been taking place in this city for more than sixty years. Also known as the city of flowers, Sanremo is one of the last cities on the Ligurian coast on the border with France and the Cote d'Azur. Like anything or any place that has a success born through TV or newspapers, their popularity is amplified and perceived in a different way. In fact, when I think of Sanremo, I immediately see moments from the various festivals, from singers to interviews with the various guests of the event or to certain songs. It is therefore obvious that for us ordinary people, being able to see this city has always been a goal to be achieved and to be proud of. I have visited Sanremo several times, both as a child and as a teenager and as I wrote in my post on Monte-Carlo, I decided to return to Sanremo on my return from my visit to Monaco. So in March 2018, on my return from France, after a stop in the city of Menton, I stopped for a couple of hours in Sanremo with my travel partner.
We arrived in Sanremo around 1:20 PM and after parking we immediately went to the restaurant. That day I took a plate of pasta with clams and after paying I was surprised to find that the prices for lunch in Sanremo were identical to those of Monte-Carlo. The restaurant was close to “Piazzale Pian di Nave” and it was there that we went after lunch. This place was actually a large square where on one side stood the walls of the fort of Santa Tecla. Just near the walls there was a statue dedicated to April 25, the day dedicated to the liberation from fascism in Italy. The statue represented a man tied to a tree and was very suggestive because it was made in such a way that the figure looking at it in a distracted way, could look like a sort of H or an X. From a height the square overlooked the sea, and beyond the classic stone wall, they had placed large rocks for protection. That day there were very high waves and with my travel partner we climbed over the wall and took pictures looking for the perfect one with the waves crashing on the rocks. It was a fun time and it was very rewarding to see my travel partner laugh, something she rarely did. The last thing we did in that area was going along a narrow road that led us straight to a view overlooking the small port. From there, more than anything else, we saw the boats, a nice place but not particularly impressive.
Leaving the square we headed to Via Giacomo Matteotti, the main street of the city where there are shops. We initially traveled eastwards and after a few minutes we arrived in front of the iconic Ariston theater. This was the place where all the editions of the famous song festival had taken place in the last sixty years. It was not the first time I saw the theater that punctually never ceased to amaze me. In fact, the outside had an ambiguous charm for me and this is because in fact, looking at it from the outside, the theater seemed tiny. On TV, on the other hand, during the editions of the festival, audiences were seen that were very wide and deep, in other words, on TV the theater seemed immense! I remember when I saw it for the first time, I was incredulous. This is because the entrance was modest and above all overlooked a narrow street. In reality, the stage and the audiences of the theater develop inwards, a depth that is not visible from the street where the theater faces. The view of the Ariston never ceases to amaze me and every time I return I always expect the theater to change its appearance, showing its majesty even from the outside.
Leaving the Ariston theater area, we walked backwards to reach the casino and in a side street I discovered a statue dedicated to Mike Bongiorno. This was a well-known Italian TV presenter and if I remember correctly the person who directed more Sanremo festivals. I enjoyed taking pictures next to the statue and then I continued the walk with my partner. We arrived in front of the casino after about fifteen minutes. This place has always fascinated me not only for its design but also for its location. The casino was in fact located on a slope and the part of the outdoor garden ended with a very large balcony close to the street below. The singular thing was that under the balcony there was a built part that houses shops, which was probably part of the original casino structure. The entrance and the central part of the casino stood at the top of a staircase and the three large doors were surmounted by six columns on the sides of which stood two slightly higher towers. We spent some time there especially photographing ourselves as we descended the steps, after admiring the view from up there, we returned to the car and resumed our journey.
Our final destination was the city of Arenzano and along the way we stopped only once to take pictures on the Laigueglia seafront. However, even if only from our car, we had the opportunity to appreciate many of the towns of the Ligurian Riviera such as Albenga, Finale Ligure, Spotorno and the city of Savona. The latter was a bit disappointing due to the chaos and disorder of cars and trucks near the port that was in the city center. A city that I appreciated and that I wanted to visit was Alassio, I hope to be able to do it in a new journey. The cities I mentioned are the ones I visited and of which I have memories related to my previous trip to Liguria, an experience I described in my post about Monte-Carlo.
Sanremo gave me nothing more and nothing less than what I had in my memories but it was simply a stop on an "on the road" trip that had different ambitions. The intent was to replicate the trip made in Liguria in 2003, aboard a scooter together with a school friend of mine who moved there for work in the summer. My original idea then failed not because of the company I had in 2018 but rather because the context was different. As I said in the Monte-Carlo post, in 2003 I was more inspired, more motivated and I saw things in a different spirit. Despite having good memories with my travel partner, the replica of the visit to Liguria was not as good as the one I did in 2003.
Pictures: Antonio Malara
Camera: Fujifilm XT-20