Venture with the Granfondo into some of the most attractive corners of the Ligurian Riviera encompassing culture, history and gastronomy
The San Remo – San Remo “Classicissima” is just the right race for retracing the steps of the great champions of both yesterday and today, a Granfondo that winds through the roads of the most beautiful places in the province of Imperia.
The Granfondo Route start is from the beginning of Corso Imperatrice, in front of the Casinò, in San Remo, a short distance from the sea, and the first kilometers of the race head towards the west, going through Ospedaletti until you reach Bordighera.
Famous tourist center of the Ligurian Riviera (second only to San Remo), Bordighera began as a fishing village and is also known as the City of Palms. In the 19th century its fame increased thanks to the new-found enthusiasm for tourism of the English aristocrats who favored it as a place for their holidays. The splendid climate and breathtaking views even beguiled the nobility from across the Channel.
The route then follows on towards the French border until it arrives at the town of Camporosso, a little municipality that extends to the large valley floor of the Nervia stream that gives its name to the valley. With a slight climb you reach Dolceacqua, one of the “most beautiful villages in Italy”, also awarded the Orange Flag.
Dolceacqua is the inland Ligurian town that captivated the impressionist painter Monet. The artist in fact depicted it in his paintings, featuring its characteristic bridge and unique arch. The Val Nervia is also famous for the exceptional quality of its Rossese d.o.c. wines which are produced by vineyards cultivated on typical Ligurian terraces, found on the hills that surround Dolceacqua. Travelling through the paths of the countryside you must taste the characteristic michette, a sweet with an old and curious history….
The Granfondo proceeds up along the valley to approach Isolabona, with its elegant historic center surrounded by olive groves, set in greenery between the river and the sky. As you pedal along you get to Apricale, medieval village which has also received the Orange Flag, at the top of a rocky peak. This is a little town with a unique atmosphere, famous for the Lucertola Castle, and for the excellent extravirgin olive oil produced from local olives. Those with a sweet tooth mustn’t forget to try pansarole, sweet fritters that absolutely must be eaten with hot zabaione cream (a local speciality). In summer the streets and piazzas of Apricale become a lively open air stage with performances by the Teatro della Tosse.
Pedalling on, still climbing, you come to Bajardo, at the top of the Val Nervia, behind which towers the majestic crown of the Maritime Alps. Situated at an altitude of 900 meters and circled by olives, chestnut trees and vines, the town features narrow, winding streets and ancient stone houses.
From Da Bajardo you proceed towards the Provincial Road 54, going through the village of Vignai until you reach Argallo (a district of Badalucco) and here you find yourself in the heart of the Valle Argentina. Badalucco is a typical medieval village at 179 meters of altitude, famous for its production of extravirgin olive oil, amongst the most sought-after of the Ligurian Mediterranean. One of the typical dishes of this area is made from dried stockfish cod prepared “a Baucogna”, a delicious secret recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation. On the third weekend of September this traditional dish is cooked in enormous pots to celebrate generosity during the famous “Festival of Stockfish”.
Following the Argentina stream to its source you descend to Taggia, municipality of the valley ports which is divided into its historic center and the pleasant seaside spot of Arma di Taggia, with its two sandy beaches which were awarded the Blue Flag in 2017.
The historic center of Taggia is the second most important in Liguria after that of Genoa. It is worth visiting the many churches dotted around it, especially the Convent of the Domenican Fathers, of notable historic and artistic interest. Memorable specialities of the area include the Taggia canestrelli, fanciful circles of cruncy pastry, salted, and perfect for a snack or as a substitute for bread, that obviously contain as one of their basic ingredients the extravirgin olive oil of the area.
The route of the Mediofondo heads towards San Remo, while the Granfondo proceeds along the Aurelia state road, this time in an easterly direction, to reach first Riva Ligure and then Santo Stefano al Mare, two ancient fishing villages joined by long pathways along the seafront.
Following the Aurelia for a few kilometers you run into San Lorenzo al Mare, another typical Ligurian town that is split between a hilly area and a coastal one, extending around Rio San Lorenzo.
What there is to face now is one of the legendary climbs of the Milan – San Remo: “La Cipressa”, which takes its name from the charming town that dominates the coast from above. Cipresse contains a well-preserved historic center that reveals picturesque corners that provide a framework for a town where the cultivation of olives provides much prized extravirgin olive oil.
You then go down along the coast to reach Santo Stefano al Mare again and immediately go up towards Terzorio, one of the many beautiful ancient villages that are dotted along the hills right next to the sea. You then continue on to the little center of Pompeiana, rich in sacred architecture that has been preserved over the centuries. At this point the finish is near, but first you have to reach Castellaro again, overlooking the Taggia plain.
By now there are very few kilometers left before the finish line. The cyclists return on the Aurelia, crossing Arma di Taggia and on towards the last obstacle, the legend of the Classicissima: the Poggio di Sanremo.
After a few turns the district of Poggio emerges to reward the strenuous efforts of the preceding kilometers. After this long trip through some of the most evocative corners of the western part of Liguria, you can’t miss out on a toast with a glass of fresh Vermentino and a piece of warm Sardenaira, the most famous speciality of San Remo !
|Granfondo Sanremo 120 km|
|Sanremo Corso Imperatrice (Casinò)
San Lorenzo al mare
Santo Stefano al mare
Arma di Taggia
Poggio di Sanremo (Finish)