Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Four Countries in one day - first up - Ventimiglia

On looking at the map while in Nice, we noticed that Italy, on the border, was just a half hour train ride away.  Without knowing much about it, we decided to head to Italy, then Menton, then Monaco, back to Nice, before heading back to Amsterdam.  Four countries in one day has a nice ring to it, however each of these countries apart from Amsterdam, were all very close to each other.

At first glance when we came in to Ventimiglia, it looked run down and dingy.  The dark sky didn't help, but we got off the train and wandered down to the waterfront then crossed the river.  From the bridge we looked over to the ancient city and historic town.  

Ventimiglia is the ancient Albium Intemelium, the capital of the Intemelli, a Ligurian tribe which long resisted the Romans, until in 115 BC it was forced to submit to Marcus Aemilius Scaurus. In AD 69 the city was sacked by the army  of Otho and Vitellius, but recovered to remain prosperous into the 5th century, surrounded by walls with cylindrical towers built at each change of direction.
In the Gothic Wars it was besieged by the Byzantines and the Goths, and later suffered from the raids of Rothari, King of the Lombards, but flourished again under Rodoald. In the 10th century it was attacked by the Saracens of Fraxinet. After a period as an independent commune, it was ruled by the Counts of Ventimiglia, and often had to fight with the Republic of Genoa.
In 1139 the Genoese attacked it by land and sea and forced it to surrender; the count continued to hold the city and countship as a vassal of the victors. The city rebelled more than once against the Genoese and sided with their enemies. In 1271 in a war with Genoa, Ventimiglia was thus temporarily held by the Dukes of Savoy (1389 and 1746) and King Ladislaus of Naples (1410). In 1505 it was annexed to the Genoese Republic, sharing its history until the early 19th century.

Looking up the River.

And out towards the sea.  Hundreds of swallows were diving and zooming around on the water..

We wandered around the shorefront first.  It was cold, about to rain, yet this hardy couple was sitting on the seat reading their books in the inclement weather...  I admired them for their hardiness!

At this stage neither Anne nor I were much impressed with the town, but we decided to head up the hill into the town to have a quick look..

We are so glad we did as it became really interesting.  Little alleyways between houses, colourful paint, and really old churches made this town incredible.

From the top, we looked over the lower city and out to sea. Again I loved the rooftops...

One of hte 3 old cathedrals we saw.  This one had a christening service in progress so I was unable to take photos.

It was Sunday and the locals were busy socialising or going to church, which gave the town a real villagey and friendy feel to it which I really enjoyed.

We found a place to stop for breakfast and had a lovely meal for 4.50 euros for the two of us, which consisted of Courgette, Aubergine, and Foccacia bread.  Very yummy.

We continued to wander the cobblestoned streets...

And stumbled across this amazingly old Cathedral. It had an 11th century baptistery and is built on the ruins of an earlier Lombard church which was in turn on the site of a Roman building, possibly a temple.

 Back outside we continued to wander through alleyways...

And stumbled on another ancient church - The Church of San Michele Arcangelo which was erected in the 10th Century by the Counts of Ventimiglia on the foundations of a pagan temple. In the 11th/12th centures it was rebuilt in Romanesque style.  In 1628 it lost the aisles after an earthquake.  It houes milestones from the old Via Lulia Augusta, two of which are used as stoups and one supports the crypts wall.

After this, we decided we should head to our next stop so we didn't run out of time, so we wandered back to the train station.. On our way back it started to rain..

At the train station, we had a little wait, so we checked out the shop.  I found these GIANT jars of nutella for 36 euros.  Damn the airlines weight restrictions!!

Now onto Menton..

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