Experienced deckhand Oliver Mills-Nanyn has travelled the world, spending extended periods in Spain, the South of France and Italy. This article will look at the Italian city of San Remo, which is world-famous for its stunning ocean views, impressive architecture and charming Mediterranean atmosphere.
Whether visitors seek to relax on the beach or soak up the vibrant nightlife, San Remo has something for everyone. Serving as a tourist destination since the mid-1700s, the city has attracted British and Russian aristocracy, including the Romanov family and other heads of state.
Having retained much of its Riviera-style grandeur and impressive old hotels, San Remo may receive fewer international visitors today, but the chic resort remains popular among Italian vacationers. The city has become famous for its music festival, which was a forerunner to the Eurovision Song Contest. San Remo also serves as the finish line for the Milan-San Remo classic, the longest professional one-day cycling race in the world.
San Remo is best known for its picture-perfect beaches and spas, although the city has much to offer besides the sea, boasting a plethora of historical sites and museums as well as some world-class restaurants.
Having earned the moniker Riviera dei Fiori or City of Flowers, San Remo is home to a diverse and colourful array of different flora, with its exports bringing the fragrance of Italy to the world. Enjoying a strategic geographic location in Liguria, San Remo is protected from northly winds, enabling both flowers and tropical plants to flourish in its various botanical gardens. Each year, a flower festival is staged in San Remo, with singers and guests bearing traditional bouquets of flowers.
In 1891, Alfred Nobel purchased a villa in San Remo. He died there in 1896. Since 2002, the building has housed a permanent exhibition highlighting some of the most important discoveries of the 19th century and exploring the research interests of Nobel himself. Long after his death, San Remo maintains strong ties with Nobel. Each year, large quantities of flowers are sent from San Remo to the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony and Banquet in Stockholm on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death.
San Remo Casino lies in the heart of the city and is a must-visit destination for tourists. Designed by the eminent Parisian architect Eugenio Ferret, this imposing building is fashioned in the Liberty Deco style, with its construction completed in 1905. San Remo Casino remains one of the most important and historic casinos in all of Italy. Having been closed for much of World War II, since the casino reopened its doors it has never closed and is today enjoyed by millions of tourists from all over the world. The venue has served as a backdrop to many historic events, comprising several halls with incredible diversity in elegance and décor and featuring Murano glass chandeliers and various paintings conveying an oriental atmosphere.
A stone’s throw from downtown San Remo lies Old Bussana, an ancient rogue artist community that sits in the shadow of one of the world’s glitziest and most glamourous cities. During Medieval times, homes and communities rose up across the region, carved out of the jagged hills, providing local people with protection against all kinds of raiders and conquerors. Essentially a fortress, Bussana Vecchia boasted engineering so advanced it not only protected locals from invading enemies but also withstood the ravages of time. Nevertheless, a devastating earthquake in 1887 cost hundreds of people in Bussana Vecchia their lives, and the ancient city was abandoned. However, during the 1960s, a community of rebel artists rebuilt the ruins by hand, creating a bohemian oasis – a place to live freely, simply and cheaply, without artistic or societal constraints. Today boasting plumbing and electricity, Old Bussana is home to several cafes, restaurants and galleries.
For culture buffs, the Floriseum presents an enticing blend of history and nature. Housed in the charming Vilino Winter building, which once belonged to the Ormond family, the Floriseum showcases the importance of flowers in the region, exploring their fascinating history. An architectural masterpiece designed by Emile Reverdin in the late 19th century, the building is surrounded by a meticulously designed botanical wonderland. From ancient cypresses to towering palm trees, the Floriseum boasts flora from all over the world, with each corner offering new discoveries for nature enthusiasts.
Situated 100 metres above sea level, the Santuario della Madonna della Costa provides tranquil respite well away from the hustle and bustle. The route is particularly scenic, guiding visitors across San Remo’s historic centre, through Regina Elena Gardens and on to the renowned La Pigna district. Those who stay the course are rewarded with a breathtaking panorama, looking down across historic dwellings and a maze of carrugi alleyways. This inspiring walk ends at a place of worship dedicated to the Madonna, which sits perched on high ground, dominating the surrounding landscape. Built in 1361, the Baroque façade of the sanctuary features depictions of the Assumption and the saints Romulus and Syro.