Approximately when Julius Caesar marched his legions through here Romans called it Albium Intemelium
Glancing at this first Italian city on the rail line after you cross east-bound from the south of France, it seems like just another name on a passing stazzione signboard, one among the many that tomorrow's rail car will alternately roar and squeal past as our journey continues. But no, it isn't. Ventimiglia is special.
There are two distinct towns in Ventimiglia. The new one, shown here, filled with stacked up apartments like these, sprawls on the east side of the river. Most of the workaday residents live here.
Beyond those spreading new structures, ancient Roman ruins may be found against the hills behind to be explored and images saved — interesting, but my guess is we will pass them by in favor of spending every moment in Old Town or on the beach.
Ventimiglia's Old Town perches atop a hill on the other side of the tranquil river Roia. Its medieval buildings, and entire neighborhoods, are preserved more or less as they were in the 14th century. Which place, aged but utterly alive, is where we want to immerse our senses during this overnite following the French trainride ... then after dark to trudge back down the pathway and across the long and narrow bridge to our New Town apartment nearer to the rail line, for our Italian train to carry us to Levanto next morning.
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That intense blue is, of course, the sky; the lighter blue is the shore. With Ventimiglia's beach. Our apartment, from whose balcony this photo is taken, has all we could really want for an extended stay. Alas, this can be only the one night on our way to Levanto farther down the coast. Hungry or not, we must take a picnic to the beach right over there, a short walk. Or we may find ourselves beguiled by a ristorante nearby. Regardless, we must leave this enroute town late the next morning.
Below are scenes from a visit to Old Town on the hill, Ventimiglia Alta, some 14 years ago.
Cattedrale Santa Maria Assunta graces the header of this page. Our overnight stay is booked on the far side of that dividing river below this old part of town, but still I think within view of the bell tower. It seems an uplifting pause in an otherwise full-day trip from Avignon to the Italian riviera.
Oh, in case the Mass beckons you sometime, the steps to the small cathedral look like this.