Just a few miles from the French border, the Italian city of Ventimiglia is famed for its scenery and for its history. Ancient Roman ruins number among its top attractions, while Côte d’Azur day-trippers regularly cross the border to soak up its seaside charm, shop its weekly market, and relax on its two beaches.
The last major stop on the Italian coast before reaching the French border, Ventimiglia is pretty enough to seduce those passing through into sticking around for a while. A Roman city named Albintimulium once stood on-site, and today the remains of an amphitheater, tombs, and other buildings are evidence of the area’s ancient heritage. The city’s other major landmarks range from its pretty cathedral and two scenic beaches to the Balzi Rossi caves, which hide paleolithic remains and artifacts.
Ventimiglia is included on numerous day-trip itineraries from Monaco and France. If you’re driving independently, it’s also within easy commuting distance of Nice and other stops along the French Riviera.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Hanbury Botanical Gardens, located just west of Ventimiglia and founded in 1867, rank among Italy’s most significant botanical gardens.
- In addition to its ancient ruins, Ventimiglia is also renowned for its medieval Old Town, which features winding streets and characterful architecture.
- As France and Italy are both in the Schengen no-passport zone, you likely will not need to show your passport if driving between the two (except in times of heightened security).
How to Get There
Ventimiglia’s train station connects it with Genoa on the Ligurian coast and Marseille in southern France, so it’s easy to reach it from either direction. Alternatively, the city can be reached by car via the A8 from France or Monaco. Note that road signs may list the city as “XX Miglia.”
When to Get There
Though Ventimiglia’s natural beauty means it’s a lovely destination throughout the year, visit during the spring and summer to make the most of its ample sunshine and bustling, high-season energy. The town’s weekly market, held on Friday mornings, is far and away its highlight event.
The Ventimiglia Market
Among Ventimiglia’s most popular attractions is its market, which comprises hundreds of stalls. Held on the city’s seaside walkway on Fridays (roughly between 8am and midafternoon), it’s a treasure trove of clothing, jewelry, homewares, leather goods, fresh produce, and more.