San Remo On a BudgetSan Remo is a city located on the Mediterranean coast of northwest Italy. While it has a history that dates back to Roman times, today it exists as a resort town renowned for its casino. Other highlights include a picturesque harbor, medieval center, and a number of festivals and events held throughout the year.
SightsThe most historic part of San Remo is La Pigna, named the Pinecone for how the streets and buildings are packed tightly into the hillside. Dating back to medieval times, La Pigna is topped by a sanctuary called Madonna della Costa Sanctuary. A cobblestone mosaic dating from 1651 leads the way to the hilltop sanctuary, which can be seen from almost everywhere in San Remo. The sanctuary itself has become a symbol of the city, dating from the 17th century. It houses an ornate altar, organ, and beautiful paintings and statues from the 17th to 19th centuries. San Remo's Russian Orthodox Church, though more recent (1913), is another notable religious sight.
San Remo is also known as the City of Flowers, and being so has a number of stunning gardens worth visiting. The Gardens of Queen Elena are on top of the hill above La Pigna, while the gardens of Villa Zirio, Villa Ormond, Villa Nobel, and Palazzo Bellevue are on the east side of town, close to the Porto Sole. The Villa Nobel itself, once the home of Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, is also open for guided tours. Nobel, known as the inventor of dynamite, spent the last few years of his life in this villa overlooking the Mediterranean.
NeighborhoodsThe oldest part of the city is called La Pigna, as mentioned earlier. Dating back to medieval times, the old center has a street and tiny alleyways that wind up the hill to the gardens and sanctuary at the top. Along the way there are a number of historic churches, buildings, and squares that have been restored and posted with historical information for tourists. As far as the contemporary scene goes, San Remo has busy shopping streets for visitors seeking clothing and jewelry, a hectic market packed with bargainers, broad palm-lined streets with luxury villas, and a harbor packed with yachts and fishing boats. There is a larger, more modern harbor as well as small old harbor called Porto Vecchio which is lined with a few restaurants. While the seafront and harbor offer plenty to take in, the main boulevards also have much to offer in historic buildings, shopping, dining, and gardens.
ActivitiesBeyond shopping and sightseeing and exploring San Remo's busy streets, the Casino is a major draw for people visiting the city. Located right in the center of town, it is an architectural masterpiece as well as a source of entertainment for many. San Remo Casino has become particularly well known for its hosting of the three times yearly Italian Poker Tour and the European Poker Tour.
As far as festivals and events go, the most famous is the annual San Remo Music Festival, or Italian Song Festival, hosted by the Ariston Theatre in February. There is also a European music festival in June, Rock festival in July, and Jazz in August. Shows and concerts are held throughout most of summer. From October through May, the Opera Theater at the Casino holds performances by the Symphonic Orchestra, New Year's Eve is celebrated with music and a big fireworks display by the sea at Porto Vecchio, and the Sanremo Flowers parade is held at the end of January.
Other activities include water sports, swimming, and bicycling as well as a few tennis clubs and sporting events held throughout the year.
Food and DiningCuisine of San Remo consists of traditional Italian fare common throughout the Liguria region. Olive oil is used in almost everything, and the favorite sauce is pesto made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. There are many different kinds of homemade pastas 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. Being a port city, seafood and fish are fresh and abundant, while gelato, or Italian ice cream, exists as the specialty dessert. Other small bites include things like focaccia and vegetable pies. There are plenty of options for dining throughout the city, especially down by the harbors and around the city's public squares.
TransportationBy plane, the nearest international airport is in Nice, France. The next nearest is Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport in the city of Genoa, Italy.
San Remo can be reached by train or bus from other towns along the coast. It is on the coastal rail line that connects France with Genoa and other points along Italy's west coast. The train and bus stations are both located in the city center.