Sanremo and Rapallo, Italy
Many centuries ago, in the 4th century, the legendary Saint Romulus lived in the marvelous place of Villa Matuzio on the coast of the Ligurian Sea. The legend says that this town was named after the goddess Matuta, the patroness of the sea and dawn, and was buried in the fragrance of marvelous flowers. And in the XV century, the city was renamed San Remo, which is also called the capital of the “Flower Riviera” and the “City of Flowers”. Wonderful long-stemmed roses, sweet-smelling carnations, colorful begonias and camellias are specially grown here. Since the 1800s, Sanremo has been chosen by the European aristocracy, who come here to enjoy the captivating beauty of landscapes, the clear sea and the magical aroma of flowers. The resort was also very popular among the Russian nobility, for example, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna often visited it.
San Remo is located on the shore of a narrow bay, between the capes of Capo Nero and Capo Verde. The old town – La Pina, with its narrow streets, old houses, alleys immersed in greenery and small squares, resembles a corner of the Middle Ages that came to life. The new city, which has turned from a fishing village into a fashionable resort, offers excellent opportunities for recreation and entertainment: comfortable hotels, golden beaches, water sports, excellent restaurants, bars and nightclubs, as well as the famous historic casino – Casino Municipale, opened in 1905. The chic casino was visited by many celebrities, including German writers Erika and Klaus Mann, who wrote in their memoirs: “Many people prefer to place their bets in the San Remo casino, because it is much more prestigious to leave their money here.”
Another architectural landmark is the Cathedral di San Siro, built in the 12th century in the Romanesque-Gothic style, which was later modified in the Baroque style. The wooden Crucifixion of the great Genoese sculptor is kept in the cathedral, and opposite the temple there is a baptistery built in the Baroque style in 1688. Inside you can see the Holy Communion of Magdalena by Orazio de Ferrari. The Torre della Ciapela tower rises in Piazza Eroi. This grandiose building with meter-thick walls was part of the city wall in the 16th century. Corso degli Inglesi is lined with magnificent villas and mansions built in the 19th and 20th centuries. in neoclassical style. Villa Bel Respiro, today home to the Institute of Experimental Floriculture, Villa Vista Lieta (formerly Agnes’ villa), the Liberty-style Villa Virginia and the delightful Villa Fiorentina, built in the style of the Florentine Renaissance. The 16th-century Borea d’Olmo palace houses the city’s archaeological museum and the Pinacoteca. The museum presents archaeological finds dating from the prehistoric period and the ancient Roman era. On Nota Square (piazza Nota) there is the city hall, decorated with the coat of arms and heraldry of San Remo, and on Casini Square (piazza Cassini) stands the Cathedral of St. Stephen – one of the main religious monuments of the city, built in the Middle Ages by the Benedictines, in the 17th century passed to the Jesuit Order, and then rebuilt in the Baroque style. The cathedral is decorated with amazing frescoes and gilding. It is also interesting to visit the Nobel Villa, where Alfred Nobel spent the last years of his life and today houses the International Institute for Human Rights.
In addition to numerous attractions and the status of a magnificent resort, San Remo is famous as the center of many events of world importance. It hosts the famous Italian Song Festival, the Tenco Prize vocal competition, fashion shows, grandiose flower festivals, sailing regatta, vintage car rally and rally, the Milan-San Remo bike race and other highlights. Sanremo is a city that will always be remembered, a city of flowers, sea, sun and Italian hospitality.
In the 10th century, on the Ligurian coast, in the Gulf of Tigulli, not far from Genoa, the tiny settlement of Rapallo was founded. Life in this picturesque seaside town proceeded calmly and unhurriedly. True, according to legend, Hannibal stopped here with his army during the campaign in the Second Punic War. But the peaceful life of Rapallo was disrupted by the dramatic events of July 4, 1594, when the city was attacked by pirates led by the bloodthirsty Turkish Pasha Dragut, who brutally dealt with men and kidnapped women and children, then exchanging them for expensive ransoms. After this episode, a majestic fortress was erected in Rapallo. And only after 1868, when the railway was laid between Nice and Rome, Rapallo began to develop as a fashionable resort, where many representatives of European bohemia came to rest, for example.
Rapallo’s attractions include the Castello di Punta Pagana castle, which housed the Order of Malta, the Porta delle Saline gate – part of the city’s fortification wall, the Basilica of Saints Gervasius and Protasius (Sts. Gervasius and Protasius) with a wonderful bell tower, built in 118 and rebuilt in the XVII century in the Romanesque style, the church of St. Francis (1519), the ruins of the 13th century monastery Valle Christi, abandoned after a pirate raid. It is also interesting to visit the Lace Museum (Museo del Merletto), located in the Villa Tigulli, and presenting examples of amazing lace and the history of their creation from the 16th to the 20th centuries.
Relaxing resort atmosphere, old buildings with colorful facades, lush greenery, cozy restaurants and clear emerald sea – this is the unique style and charm of Rapallo.