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Art and culture

What to see in Sanremo: a 5-day itinerary to discover the city during the Festival

5 days
Number of Stages

Sanremo is the city of flowers and in Italy it is synonymous with the Song Contest Festival: the most important song contest in the country. This year from February 7th to the 11th, the Ligurian city will be ready to host visitors and enthusiasts from all parts of Italy and beyond, hunting for autographs and selfies with the singers in the competition. Getting there is easy, because Sanremo is only 147 kilometers from Genoa, served by the Cristoforo Colombo airport.

The Festival can be seen live at the Ariston Theater or watched live on TV. If enjoying the show in the evening is a must, there is nothing better than to explore the beauty the city has to offer during the day, thanks to a mild climate that makes it enjoyable even in winter.

Here's how to discover the city of Sanremo at its best, without missing out on the Festival, even with little time available, through a specially designed itinerary.

From Ariston Theatre to La Pigna

Ariston Theatre in Sanremo

A day isn’t much, but with the right itinerary to hand you can get around without fail. The first step? Naturally the unmissable Ariston Theater, in via Giacomo Matteotti. It's here that the Festival has been held since 1977, apart from the year it was hosted in the Salone delle Feste of the city casino. After taking the usual photos, continue along Via Matteotti up to the Casino, in Via degli Inglesi. Housed in an Art Nouveau building designed by the French architect Eugène Ferret, it is one of the four casinos in Italy and is open every day, from 14.30 to 3:00 am and entry is allowed only to adults.

If you are an attentive observer, you will have noticed that from the Casino you can see some unusual domes for an Italian city: the Church of Cristo Salvatore, San Serafino di Sarov and Santa Caterina, of Orthodox rites. Built between 1912 and 1913 it is one of the symbols of the city and its history is quite fascinating. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian community in San Remo was numerous, also thanks to the fact that the Tsarina Maria Aleksandrovna, wife of Alexander II, adored the Ligurian city and spent her holidays there. The Orthodox community still uses it today.

The oldest church, on the other hand, is the Co-Cathedral of San Siro, from the Romanesque era, which is located a short distance from the Ariston. For lunch, move to the ancient historic center of the city, La Pigna, so called due to its cone shape. It was built in this way to defend Sanremo from Saracen pirates, arriving frequently during the foundation of the city, around the year 1000. From Piazza Cassini you enter the Pigna through the 14th-century Porta di Santo Stefano. From here, on the left, you will find the covered passage of the Rivolte di S. Sebastiano, which leads to the Piazza dell'Oratorio dei Dolori: a dense maze of alleys, narrow streets and steep climbs, perfect for urban trekking enthusiasts.

La Pigna (Sanremo historic centre)
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From the Regina Elena Gardens to the Santa Tecla Fort

Madonna della Costa Sanctuary in Sanremo

The second day of the itinerary requires really comfortable shoes. On top of La Pigna, you’ll find the Regina Elena Gardens, which dominate the city. They were built starting from 1754, where a Genoese castle once stood, but they are also the result of the demolition of some areas of Pigna itself, after the earthquake that struck Sanremo in 1887. The Gardens, created with a series of terraces, are joined together by stairways and offer unique views over the roofs of the ancient city center and the sea.

If you've made it this far, make a little more effort to get up to the Madonna della Costa Sanctuary, symbol of the city. According to tradition, it was built in memory of the feast of the chains, when the people of Sanremo dragged chains up to the sanctuary to celebrate the liberation from the feudal yoke of the Dorias.

The itinerary of the second day continues in the more modern part of the city. After lunch, walk along the Empress Promenade, do some shopping in via Matteotti and have a coffee or an aperitif in one of the many cafés overlooking the sea. A walk in the Old Port will take you to the Forte di Santa Tecla, imposing and impenetrable thanks to its triangular shape. It was built by the Genoese in just 11 months and inaugurated on March 12th, 1756, to repress the feelings of independence of the city against the Republic of Genoa.

From Villa Nobel and Villa Ormond to the Mercato Annonario

Villa Nobel in Sanremo

Even the itinerary of the third day begins in greenery. The Regina Elena Gardens are not the only gardens in the city, even those of Villa Nobel and Villa Ormond are truly unmissable and are located just 200 meters from each other, in Via Felice Cavallotti. The first was the residence of Alfred Nobel, creator of the famous Prize. He called it "my nest" (il mio nido), and here he spent the last years of his life, dedicating himself to his activity as a chemist. Today it houses a museum, where the rooms where Nobel lived have been reconstructed, and it is available for events. The gardens are enchanting and can be accessed for free.

Subsequently, set aside at least an hour to walk along the paths, a stone's throw from the sea. The Villa Ormond park is rich in exotic species, a peaceful and well-kept refuge, ideal for strolling and relaxing. If you are looking for an alternative souvenir, go to the Mercato Annonario, open from Monday to Saturday, from 6:00 to 13.30. Designed in the mid-1950s, it is much more than a covered market where you can go shopping. In fact, there is never a shortage of small local producers with their specialties, which can be purchased locally, from the sardenaira, a crunchy pizza, to pesto and olive oil.

Bussana Vecchia

View of Bussana Vecchia

If you are passionate about two wheels, the cycle path of the Riviera dei Fiori Coastal Park is for you. It is a straight stretch of 24 kilometers with a view of the sea which leads from San Lorenzo al Mare to Ospedaletti.

Rent a bike in Sanremo and take the cycle path towards San Lorenzo. After about 10 kilometers you will come to Bussana Vecchia, a village populated by artists with a singular history. Heavily damaged by the earthquake of 1887, the small center was abandoned by its inhabitants, so much so that for several years it was defined as a ghost town. In the 60s then the rebirth, thanks to a group of craftsmen and artists who decided to move here. They used the rubble still present in the village to rebuild it, giving themselves a sort of statute: nobody owned anything, but everyone was a community, faithful to the hippy spirit. The artists are still there: it's almost a world apart, which deserves a visit.


Palazzo dei Monaci in Seborga

On the fifth and last day of the itinerary, it’s time to take the car and reach the splendid medieval village of Seborga, 20 kilometers away from Sanremo. It’s a small town surrounded by nature, rich in traditions, history and curiosities.

Starting your walk from the center, the Church of San Martino is a small jewel of Ligurian architecture built next to the Palazzo dei Monaci, a medieval structure under whose portico there is a small source of drinking water and which housed the State Mint where the Prince George I minted the principality's currency, the Luigini. Continuing the walking tour, the Museum of Musical Instruments is also worth a visit, where you can admire more than 130 instruments made from 1700 to today. Once seated at the table, try the typical pesto lasagna.

Once the itinerary is finished, the time has come to retrace your steps, rest with a view of the sea and get ready to enjoy the Finals of the Sanremo Festival. May the best person win!

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