Imperia Mini Guide
Imperia Sounds Very Grand, Where is it?
It’s in the north west of Italy, on the coast and very close to the border with France
. The nearest big cities are Genoa
. It’s well known for the commercial growing of beautiful flowers and for its olive oil. The city is made up of two districts, Porto Maurizio and Oneglia which are separated by the Impero River.
What is its Story?
Each part of the city has a different story. Porto Maurizio is the older having been a Roman city whilst Oneglia was a village spun off from nearby Pagus Unelia. Unelia was destroyed by the Saracens in 935 before being rebuilt as Oneglia shortly after. Porto Maurizio became a Byzantine port and survived Saracen attacks. During the Renaissance period both towns were in the Republic of Genoa although Oneglia was under the control of the House of Savoy. Both became Spanish possessions in the 17th century before becoming part of the Sardinian kingdom and later, part of the united Italy. It was only in 1923 that the two were joined by Mussolini to become Imperia. Today, the city is the centre of thriving port and agricultural industries.
How do I get to Imperia?
It’s not easy as there are no airports very close by. The best idea is to look at the three closest airports which are all around 45 miles away and choose the cheapest. Travel times are the same from Nice, Turin or Genoa. Once at the airport, there are trains, often linked to the airport by shuttle bus, that are the most efficient way of continuing your journey to Imperia.
What’s There to see in the City?
There’s little to be recommended in Oneglia as it’s the commercial and modern half of the city. Spend your time wandering the narrow streets of Porto Maurizio where honey coloured houses with terracotta roofs sit haphazardly alongside each other. Visit the Cathedral of Saint Maurizio, the largest in Liguria and the Santa Chiara convent that dates from the 14th century. Take some time to enjoy the lovely beaches around the city or visit the flower farms for which Imperia is famous.
What can I buy There?
There are plenty of olive products in the shops made from the ‘liquid gold’ produced locally. Cosmetics as well as culinary products are represented and they all make a great gift for family back home. If your home country allows the import of fresh flowers, these also make a special gift.
What About Eating out?
If you want to eat out, try the little restaurants of Porto Maurizio where the pasta and olive oil, renowned in the region, is put to good use in delicious rustic dishes.
And for Entertainment?
Oneglia has the brashest nightlife but instead do as the locals do and sip aperitifs or Peroni in the small bars of Porto Maurizio, chat and watch the world go by.
The city of Imperia is divided into two by the River Impero, it’s only minutes from the border of France and makes a great base for exploring both France and Italy. The Mediterranean coast here is delightful with soaring cliffs and secluded bays, perfect for driving along in a convertible hire car.
The region is known for growing flowers for markets and florists and for the local production of olive oil. Both parts of the city, Porto Maurizio and Oneglia have their attractions although Porto, being a working port is slightly less attractive than its neighbour.