Sanremo, on the Ligurian coast: an era of days gone by

Sanremo is an interesting town along the Ligurian coast that I had always wanted to visit. For a short visit, it’s a lovely place. For anything longer than 4 days, I would tell you to visit other places with more to do, and more to see. In a perfect world, and if you are the daring type, I’d tell you to rent a car and spend a couple of weeks just driving along the Ligurian coast and stopping along the way; it really is that stunning!

Nites

There are handful of 4-star hotels in Sanremo but none have direct beach access. (Until 10 years ago, the train tracks were between the beach and the hotels but with the relocation of the trains in the mountains, there is now a wonderful bike and pedestrian track between the hotels and the beach.) I chose the Hotel de Paris Sanremo (www.hoteldeparissanremo.it) and loved it. As I always recommend, it is best to write to the hotel directly – rather than through hotel aggregator sites – and describe what you want and see what they offer. Case in point: although I couldn’t afford the direct sea view rooms, I was offered a room with a partial view. When I arrived, I was given a room with no sea view, I showed my reservation, and voila, I was given a room with a partial sea view that made me happy every day! The hotel is very old school with modern touches like the TVs and the bathrooms. And for that added little start to the day, the breakfast buffet was actually quite a lovely start to the day.

Hotel de ParisHotel de Paris view with sun 02

Bites

For pizza, one of the staff at the Hotel de Paris recommended Pizzeria Spaccanapoli (wwwpizzeriaspaccanapoli.it) which was phenomenal. You won’t find anything other than pizza here, but the numbers that they offer are staggering!

Another find that a staff member at the Hotel de Paris suggested was Osteria Camelot (osteriacamelot.it) which is in the old town, but not hiking up to the Pigna and the gardens. The food is simple and the décor equally as simple but I really liked the food here. There is a house wine that, I have to tell you, is nothing more than bottled wine from Coop, a chain supermarket in Italy. They do have wine by the bottle, and a wine list as well, so if you can afford it, I would recommend that you ask for the wine list. But don’t let the supermarket wine as the house wine stop you from going here.

But if you only have one night in Sanremo, you absolutely must go to Taverna al 29 (www.tavernaal29.com). This a small restaurant, that is closed on Sundays and Wednesdays, and is a bit of show (more on that soon), but the food was absolutely divine, the bread incredible, the wine list small but spectacular, and the house-made “grappa” a sweet touch. The owner of the restaurant is very sweet and I heard him speak Italian, French, German, and of course Italian. He is the showman and likes to toast with his guests when they first sit down and are offered a house-made “spritz” of prosecco and lavender syrup. (I saw him sip from the same glass for the first part of the night but, I suppose, if he was drinking along with everyone, he would be drunk by the end of the evening!) I would definitely go out of my way to return to Taverna al 29!

Sites

There really aren’t many sites that you need to seek and find: most people come to Sanremo for the sea. The number of “beach clubs” along the coast is truly staggering! They pretty much all offer the same thing: a combination of entrance fee, beach bed, umbrella, and maybe a chair. Why there is a difference in price, I can’t really say so just find the “beach club” that speaks to you and go with it. And whatever you do, be sure to watch for signs that say “no picnic”; they won’t tolerate you bring water or even fruit on to their beach because they want you to buy their food. I found Euro Nettuno Beach and for only 10.50 euro, I had entrance and a beach bed and no hassle for bringing my own water. (14.00 euro if you want to add an umbrella.)

Walking up and through the Pigna is a wonderful trip and the views from the top are amazing. But what I enjoyed most about this endeavor was the opportunity to see how people live, and the walk that they do on a daily basis (regardless of where they have parked their car in the periphery).

la pigna street down 03

As mentioned above, the former train tracks along the coast have now been transformed to a bike and pedestrian path and had I had more time, I may have actually taken a ride along the coast. The Hotel de Paris offers bike rentals and right across from the hotel is a little outfit that also offers bike rentals by the hour or half day. If you’re feeling athletic, or you need to justify that extra gelato the day before, this is the activity for you.

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