San Remo is the highlight of the Italian Riviera. This sun-washed Mediterranean oasis lies on the western coast of Liguria and is known as the City of Flowers for the stunning summer blooms. With a population of 57,000, San Remo, also known as Sanremo, is an ideal spot to spend a summertime trip to Italy. Here are 7 reasons why you should visit this city.
1. The Climate
The weather in Italy very rarely disappoints, particularly in San Remo. San Remo is located on the gulf in the Ligurian Sea and is surrounded by hills rich with sub-tropical flora and vegetation. In addition to enjoying the mild and pleasant heat, San Remo’s clear seawater and exquisite beaches are an attraction to local species of wildlife. Visitors can experience the beauty of seeing animals in their natural habitat.
2. The Cycle Race
The Spring Classic, or Milan-San Remo, is the longest professional cycling event. The 298 km race leads bikers from Milan across the Lombardy and Piedmont Plains, through the Turchino and arriving at Genoa before ascending the Cipressa and the Poggio of San Remo. The race typically occurs in March, with about seven cyclist teams competing.
3. La Pigna
Known as the pinecone for the way the streets curl up around the hillside, La Pigna is the oldest part of San Remo. The winding pathways were built to protect the city against invasions by slowing down the assailants, now it adds to the historic charm of the area. The area has undergone significant restoration efforts over the years. New housing is added to the tops of existing buildings, and bridges are installed between buildings to ensure structural support. Visitors will pass through one of the ancient gates that used to safeguard the neighbor and make their way upwards to the Piazza dei Dolori. There, they will find the Palazzo Gentile-Spinola, the former home of a wealthy 17-century family. They can also visit the Oratorio di San Sebastiano, a small church built in 1505 as a sign of devotion for the city’s salvation from the plague. At the top of the hill, visitors will find the Giardini Regina Elena, a 19th-century garden dedicated to King Victor Emmanuel III’s wife Queen Elena.
4. The Gardens and Villas
As mentioned, Giardini Regina Elena is a coveted garden expanse in the city. However, there are three other gardens in San Remo that are equally as stunning and deserve a visit. Villa Zirio, Villa Ormond, and Villa Nobel are all located near each other, but each has its own unique allure. Zirio was the place where the prince of Germany, Federico Guglielmo, chose to recover from throat cancer. Ormond is home to a Japanese Garden inspired by Zen teachings. Nobel was home to the Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel, the founder of the Nobel Prize.
5. The Italian Song Festival
The Festival della Canzone Italiana is a week-long music festival held in February. The festival began in 1951 when local officials decided the city needed an economic boost from the lingering effects of World War II. It is one of the biggest broadcast events in the country with new stations setting up local headquarters to enable the live broadcast every year. It has also been said this festival inspired the Eurovision Song Competition. Hundreds of artists have graced the stage over the years like Andrea Bocelli and Zucchero, both of whom started their careers at the festival.
6. The Casino Municipale di Sanremo
San Remo’s casino was the country’s first legal gambling location opening its doors in 1905. The building was designed by renowned Parisian architect, Eugene Ferret, with the intention of turning it into a theatre before it became a casino. Interestingly, during Mussolini’s regime, gambling was outlawed in Italy, except inside San Remo’s casino. The Italian Song Festival takes is hosted here every year along with events the European Poker Tour.
7. The Market
San Remo is a luxury destination, so visitors should anticipate a heftier price tag. However, the same cannot be said about some of the local markets, where sellers are more than happy to strike a bargain. A shopper can find just about anything from local produce to knock-off Chanel bags amongst the 250 shopping stalls.