Hey all, I have another article for you about my short trips 😉 This time my family booked a room in a hotel in Sanremo for a night so that the day after we could go to Monte-Carlo, the main (and only) city of the Prinicpality of Monaco, a micronation located in the french region of Alpes-Cote d’Azur. But we will talk about Monaco afterwards, right now I should tell the story for the start….I went out of the school before it ends because we need 2 or 3 hours to reach Sanremo, so as soon as I went out we left La Spezia, direction: SANREMO! Before arriving in Sanremo we stopped by some towns, quite famous in Italy for their beautiful beaches such as Albenga and Alassio. The weather was not one of the best, it rained always and always, it did not stop a moment so we could not stay out of the car contemplating the landscape but we still had the chance to see those towns. We wanted to go to Sanremo by passing the normal route, not highway but there was a landslide so we were forced to take the highway….Anyway I managed to take some photos.
Thanks god nothing bad happened during the way to Sanremo, the news said that the weather was horrible and also a train went off the rails but we are still alive ahaha Anyway we finally reached Sanremo, a lovely town located on the Ligurian coast and much famous in Italy because it is the place where the most loved Italian music festival is held “Festival di Sanremo“, also the name itself indicates that it is in Sanremo. We were pretty excited when we saw our hotel, it was sooo huge! This hotel was used by English people in 1800, in fact it’s called Grand Hotel des Anglais (in French English people) and it has always served as a hotel. During the war this place was bombed so English people escaped and Italians took advantage of the situation and re-used this building as a hotel. The building is old, it still contains vintage furniture and shutters but quite well preserved. Our room was great, well it’s better to say our 2 rooms because actually the room was divided in 2 and in the middle there was a bathroom. We also had a great view on the sea and the wi-fi was free.
Some Information About Sanremo
Sanremo is a renowned town in Italy for its flowers’ cultivations that earned it the surname of Città dei Fiori (city of flowers), celebrated every year with a manifestation called Sanremo in Fiore where there are several wagons entirely decorated with flowers and it is held from the end of january until the beginning of april. Sanremo enjoys a very mild weather, thanks to its geographical position, the City of Flowers is protected by the mountains from cold winds and this makes Sanremo a destination of winter, spring or summer stays. The inhabitants of Sanremo have different names: Sanremaschi is the name that indicate the real inhabitants of Sanremo, the ones that were born and have ancestors here, then there is the name Sanremesi that is used for the people who were born here but have foreigner origins and lastly Matuziani that definite in whole the inhabitants of the city, incorporating also the people that live in the nearby communes and villages. The name Matuziani takes its origin from the ancient Roman name of the place Villa Matutiæ. When my family and I arrived in Sanremo it was a bit dark and it was raining cats and dogs! Nevertheless we took courage and visited the city despite the heavy rain. We could not full enjoy the city but still, it was nice. I liked its narrow and beautiful streets and I discovered a veeery tasty cake, il Bacio di Sanremo (the Sanremo’s kiss). My god, it was so tasty!!! I suggest you all to try it.
What to See in Sanremo:
Another attraction of Sanremo, besides the sea and flowers, is the Casino that allures many rich people (and not) to spend their money there. My family and I did not imagine that Sanremo had a so huge and beautiful Casino, we were much surprised! The municipal Casino has been built in 1905 in libertal style, it’s very impressive and big. My parents wanted to see inside but both me and my brother are under 18 and we do not have the right age to enter
I also found a weird car plate….
Concattedrale di San Siro
And then my inevitable visit to a church, how can I miss it ahaha This is Concattedrale di San Siro (Saint Siro Cathedral) the most ancient worship place in Sanremo and one of the main example of Roman architecture in Liguria. According to the legend the church was built in 811 by the bishop Siro that later became a Saint but the church how we know it nowadays, it has been built at the beginning of XII century by Maestri Comacini in Gothic-Romanic style.
After a couple of hours, due to the heavy rain, we were forced to return to our hotel where our beds were waiting for us! In the night it rained much but the day after the weather was a bit better, just look at the photos that I took from our rooms!
So hopeful for good weather conditions, we left the hotel in the direction of France but we were not very lucky because it rained also there! We chose a very good weekend ahaha Beforing reaching French border, we passed through several italian towns and little villages such as Ventimiglia that it is called la Porta d’Italia (the door of Italy) since it is located on the border. When we arrived at the border we saw many people jogging, they were mosly french, I suppose but I still wonder why, it was a rainy and cold day…. Nowadays there is not the frontier anymore because France, Italy and the other European countries joined the Schengen Area so you can reach France without problems, there’s no police to stop or check you.
We stopped for some minutes at the border and then we keep going, very excited to see Monte-Carlo especially my mother who wanted to see this place since years. We passed through various French cities like Menton that I will talk about later at the end of the article. On the moment we saw the skyscrapers we understood that we were almost arrived at Monte-Carlo. Monte-Carlo can be defined as the capital of the Principality of Monaco, a little microstate ruled by the royal family of Grimaldi.
We were so happy, we rarely see so high skyscrapers since the city we live in is very little. We had some difficulties to enter the city because the roads were all messed up, up down and then down up, a totally chaos but we managed to find a park where we could leave our car but my father wanted to drive in the same roads where the drivers of formula 1 drive. He was very excited and he started telling us a lot of things about the rally of Monte-Carlo that is famous in all over the world. If I do not mistake also his favourite driver, Jacques Villeneuve, partecipated in this rally. Well, after parking our car, we explored the city a little bit, very near where we parked there were the Japanese garden, a lot of weird statues and several shops of very expensive cars like Ferrari, Rolls Royce and so on…I was about to die only by looking at the prices…..
After having drooled a bit over those super duper expensive cars, we went ahead and went under a long tunnel, my father said that during the rally, cars zip at a very high speed here and once a driver of formula 1 went out of the road, flew in the sea and died, I cannot remember the name though…. We visited the port of the city full of expensive (where have I already heard of this word) yachts and I thought “where the hell am I?!” There were yachts from every parts of world: UK, Fiji, Italy, France, Malta etc There were also a few stands that sold the official stuff related to the rally. My father said that perhaps recently a some kinds of rally was held so it could be the reason of the stands.
What to See:
La Vieille Ville and Palais Princier
La Monte-Carlo is very messed up, it’s all up and down hill and it’s hard to find the right ways in fact we lost ourselves several times despite having the town map ahaha Anyway scattered here and there there are path signs and it’s thanks to them that we arrived at the Vieille Ville (the old town) also known as La Rocher (the Rock) that is one of the four ditricts in Monte-Carlo. The Vieille Ville looks really like to Ligurian villages and it’s very cute and typical. The streets, better to call them alleways, are very narrow and full of shops, bars and restaurants, the buildings are very well-cared and colorful. At the beginning this area was called Monoikos due to the presence of a Greek temple of Hercules Monoikos and later, during middle age, François Grimaldi, took possession of this place and built here the Palais Princier (Prince’s Palace) where still nowadays the Royal Family of Grimaldi reside. The Palais Princier was before a Genoases Fortress and it was bombed several times. My father and I wanted to see better the entrance of the Palais but as soon as we went near the castle, a police officer admonished us and sent us away.
While walking we found the Musée Océanographique (Oceanographic Museum) that is the home of the Mediterranean Science Commision and contains several exhibitions of different kinds of sea fauna’s species. The building has an impressive façade built literally on the rocks above the sea, my brother was really suprised by it ahahah Then we also saw the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-Immaculée (Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception) the biggest and the main place of worship in Monte-Carlo. The church was built in 1252 dedicated to Saint Nicholas, here also many of Grimaldis are buried and even Grace Kelly. In Principality of Monaco the signs are bilingual: French and Ligurian (we can call this language, that is more a dialect, like this) and in fact many words really looked like my dialect, like the word Carrugiu, that is Carugio and it means alleway in English.
View over Monte-Carlo from Palais Princier
Near the Palais Princier there was a great view of the whole city, we could see it in all its beauty although it was raining very much, we enjoyed it! Then we decided to return to the “new part” of the city and went down a long flight of steps where we could see a lot of beautiful colorful houses but they were all closed, I presumed that they are used only during summer by tourists or rich people, it is such a pity because even in winter this place is awesome.
The last thing that we had to see was the Casino, I think, one of the most famous and popular in all over the world! Montecarlo is known as the place where people spend their money to gamble! The casino is a complex that consists of a theatre, the headquarter of des Ballets de Monte-Carlo and of course the casino. The building has been built the French architect Charles Garnier, the same person that designed the Opéra de Paris. Around it there were a lot of expensive cars and many rich people, in particular I remember that we saw a very weird person that was wearing, how can I say mhhh, horrible clothes, I cannot even describe him. Near the casino there’s also a big park with a little pool where there are some ducks and in the middle there’s a door, the entrance of a night club….I guess it’s very crowded place in the night ahaha Outside the casino there are a lot of expensive shops like Gucci or Chanel, I think they put them here so as soon as you go out of the casino, you can spend the money that you just earned inside ahaha
It was almost 3:00 and we had to go away because we need, at least, 3 hours before arriving at home so we headed toward our car and on the way back we found a really beautiful and luxury mall. It seemed more a castle, you will understand why from the photos. The mall’s name is “Le Métropole” and that day it was closed therefore I do not know why it was opened! I mean the shops inside were closed but you could enter the building the same. The shops were all expensive such as Dolce and Gabbana, Dior, Chanel, Gucci etc, there was a jewel shop where a necklace, already in sale, cost 15000€! My god it was even in sale, I can’t even imagine its original price ahaha I really wonder if there was a place in Monte-Carlo where I could find some cheap stuff.…
On the way back I really wanted to visit Menton, a French town located on the coast, the first city that you can encouter on the French Border. Menton looks like a Ligurian village, with those colorful and very old houses perched on the sea in fact some centuries ago it was part of Italy and more precisely of Liguria but then Italy has lost this area, including Nice and Savoy, after the agreements of Plombières and the Turin’s treaty as a territorial compensation. Menton is surnamed “la Perle de la France“(France’s pearl) and such appellative is due to the geographer Eliseo Reclus. One of the town’s symbol is the lemon that is much cultivated in Menton, thanks to its mild and mediterranean weather, there’s also the Lemon festival that it’s held at the end of february. In the past the inhabitants of this region used to speak a kind of ligurian dialect, closely related to the language spoken in Monaco and was even influenced by the occitan. Nowadays the dialect is disappearing, I guess only old people can speak it correctly, while the standard french is spreading more and more.
There’s also a pictoresque church that is the first thing you notice when you see Menton, it makes the town more attractive at the tourists’ eyes. The name is Basilique de Saint-Michel-Archange (the Basilica of Saint Michael’s Archangel) and it has been built in 1619 in baroque style by an Italian architect named Lorenzo Lavagna to celebrate the Prince of Monaco. The church is just above the sea promenade and it’s very suggestive, it was worth of a visit! I really liked Menton and despite the rain I could enjoy it, ah in your face Rain 😛 So this is was the last destination of our rainy weekend passed between Sanremo and Montecarlo, even if the trip was short I really liked it and I think my family should take more trips like this.