Imperia OverviewLocated in the region of Liguria, Imperia is a coastal city on Italy's northwest shoreline. Formed in 1923 by Mussolini with the combining of two major ports and several villages, Imperia today exists as a popular summer destination for visitors. It is known for its cultivation of flowers and olives as well as number of historic churches.
SightsBeginning in Porto Maurizio, one of Imperia's main ports, there are many sights to see, especially in the district's Old Town Paraiso. One such sight is the classical Cathedral of San Maurizio, the largest church in Liguria. It was built between 1781 and 1832 by Gaetano Cantoni, and adds its own charm to the city with its ringing bells and traditional organ. This part of town is also home to the Convent of Santa Chiara, first established in the 14th century with a structure that dates from 1741, as well as a Naval Museum. Here visitors can find items like historical documents, art pieces, ship models, and old naval uniforms, amongst other artifacts.
Moving on to Oneglia, Imperia's other port, one of the top sights here is the Villa Grock. A beautiful historic villa, these grounds were once the home of Charles Adrien Wettach (a.k.a. Grock), a clown, musician, and composer, who was once the highest paid entertainer in the world. Other sights in Oneglia include the Museum of the Olive and the Church of San Giovanni Battista, built in 173962.
Of the smaller villages, Montegrazie is probably the most popular, some of its attractions including the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Shrine of Nostra Signora delle Grazie.
NeighborhoodsThe two main ports of Imperia are Oneglia and Porto Maurizio, divided by the Impero River from which the city takes its name. Oneglia is the more industrial of the two, though it has a more developed town center and larger beach. Porto Maurizo is situated on a hill, making for some great views of the surrounding countryside. It also has a system of signs for visitors that operate a self-guided tour of the town's renaissance homes and historic landmarks. Both ports have small harbors lined with a selection of restaurants, cafes, and gelato. The rest of Imperia consists of small villages which include Dolchedo, Piani, Caramagna Ligure, Castelvecchio di Santa Maria Maggiore, Borgo Sant'Agata, Costa d'Oneglia, Poggi, Torrazza, Moltedo, and Montegrazie. Each has its own opportunities for sightseeing, bars, and restaurants as well as an excellent bus network.
ActivitiesBeyond enjoying the sights of Imperio and exploring the outlying villages, other activities include hiking, biking, and beach-going. Oneglia Beach is the largest and most popular featuring a wind surfing club, a playground for the kids, several nearby bars for adults, and even free parking. Another related attraction is Il Fortino, a beach club open all summer for tourists and locals alike. The staff is readily available to assist in organizing anything from windsurfing sessions to beach volleyball games.
Food and DiningThe cuisine of Imperia consists of your typical fare of northern Italy. Olive oil is used in almost everything, and one of the most common sauces is pesto made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. There are many different kinds of homemade pasta like trofie and tagliatelle, as well as a selection of meat dishes like veal roulades, lamb stew, and stuffed pancetta all seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices of the region. Focaccia and vegetable pies are also common and can be eaten as main entrees, appetizers, or snacks. And with its location by the sea, Imperia has a selection of fresh fish and seafood readily available as well. As mentioned before, each harbor has a spread of cafes and restaurants, as do the smaller villages of the area.
TransportationBy plane, the nearest airports include Genoa'a Cristoforo Colombo Airport (1.5 hours' drive) and Nice Airport (1 hour and 7 min drive). There are car hire desks at both airports that can take visitors to Imperia.
By train, Imperia is on the main rail line from Ventimiglia in the west to Genoa in the east. If travelling in from France, you will have to change at Ventimiglia on the Franco-Italian border onto a TrenItalia service in order to continue to Imperia. The two train stations in Imperia are Imperia Porto Maurizio (closer to port of the same name) and Imperia Oneglia (for Oneglia and destinations east of the river Impero, also has a bus station).
By car it is easy to reach Imperia from both Genoa and Nice. From Genoa use the A10 motorway, and from Nice take the E80 and then the A10 motorway.