Bordighera, Italy Travel Guide: Where to Stay, What to Do and Where to Eat

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welcome to The weekend, Coveteur’s travel series where seasoned globetrotters share their insider guides to the best destinations around the world. Read on for the best places to eat, stay and enjoy.

When you think of a holiday in Italy, certain destinations immediately come to mind: Capri, the Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast. Although these places are beautiful, they tend to be overrun with tourists, especially during the summer. Fortunately, Italy has more to offer than what you see on Instagram. Take for example the small town of Bordighera. Nestled along the Riviera di Ponente and within sight of Monaco, Bordighera is a pastel-coloured maritime town that has been a source of inspiration for artists like painter Claude Monet and writer André Aciman. (novel by Aciman call me by your name takes place in the city.) When a friend, who grew up in Bordighera, asked me if I wanted to visit, it was a no-brainer. The hidden gem is known for its striking blue water, diverse greenery and slow pace of life – it felt like the perfect summer vacation.

There are no direct flights to Bordighera, and with longer than normal security lines, lost luggage and sudden cancellations being a common theme when it comes to air travel this summer, I wanted to avoid all travel headaches. So I flew to Nice with La Compagnie. The boutique airline offers business class flights at affordable prices and offers a seasonal route to the French city. When I arrived at the airport, I went through security in a flash and even had time to finish a plate of fries before boarding my flight. On board, I enjoyed a glass of champagne and applied a coat of Caudalie lip balm before reclining my seat fully flat and drifting off into a deep sleep.

Once in Nice, I took a bus from the airport to the city train station. From there I bought a train ticket to Ventimiglia, a town next to Bordighera in Italy. Once in Ventimiglia my friend picked me up on his Vespa and within a five minute drive I was in Bordighera. If you’re planning on visiting, find my guide to where to stay, what to do and where to eat in this hidden Italian gem, below.

Where to stay

B&B La Terrazza de Bordighera

Photo: B&B La Terrazza de Bordighera

I was lucky enough to be able to stay with my friend, but he recommended that I stay at a hotel (or an Airbnb, if that’s more your vibe) located in Bordighera Alta, the old town of the city, for a more authentic Italian experience. He has heard a lot of good things about one place in particular: the B&B La Terrazza di Bordighera. Located near the town’s main square, this charming hotel is locally owned and surrounded by countless shops, restaurants, and open-air wine bars while being within walking distance of the beach.

RESERVE

What to do

Soak up the sun in Caletta del Gabbiano

Me on a beach reading a book by one of my favorite authors, I couldn’t be happier.

Photos: Ama Kwarteng

The sea view from the deck chair.

The first leg of the journey? The beach. We took towels and sunscreen before heading to Caletta del Gabbiano. After descending the weathered wooden staircase, we sat on the deck and ate sandwiches while admiring the view of the crystal clear sea. Then we headed to the beach, which was dotted with off-white lounge chairs and umbrellas, where I sipped cocktails while reading The story of the lost child, the fourth and final volume of Neapolitan novels by Italian author Elena Ferrante.

Shop at Twenty Cabane Deluxe Bazaar

Some of the clothing offerings at Twenty Cabane.

Photo: Ama Kwarteng

If you’re looking for a shop full of unique gifts to take home, look no further than Twenty Cabane Deluxe Bazaar. This store is located along a cobbled street in Bordighera Alta and it’s a real treasure trove dedicated to clothing, jewelry, perfumes and much more. On your way out stop at the shop next door, they sell the most amazing olive oil. I took a bottle to bring home.

Take a walk through the old town in the evening

The view of Monaco from Bordighera.

Photo: Ama Kwarteng

Grab an ice cream and stroll among the buzzing crowds of limoncello in Bordighera Alta just before sunset. You don’t need to have a specific destination in mind, just see what catches your eye. You’ll spot views of the glistening bays as you pass the cafes and shops that dot the street.

Relax at Maoma Beach

The view from Maoma Bridge.

Photo: Ama Kwarteng

Rocky beaches dot the coastline and one of the best is Maoma Beach. You can spend the whole afternoon there. Lay your towel on one of the beach club chairs, sit back and relax. When you’re too hot, take a dip in the sea and then rinse off in the outdoor shower. There is also a restaurant on the beach where you can order seafood and an Aperol spritz while enjoying the view below.

Stroll through the Hanbury Botanic Gardens

One of the garden paths.

Photos: Ama Kwarteng

In nearby Ventimiglia, you’ll find the Villa Hanbury Botanical Gardens built by Sir Thomas Hanbury in the 19th century. Starting from the highest point of the garden, you’ll wind your way through the park, which features around 5,800 exotic plants, views of the Italian Riviera, several fountains, and more. Once you reach sea level, be sure to have lunch at the on-site restaurant.

Take a boat on the French Riviera

Sip an espresso before the boat.

Photos: Ama Kwarteng

A view of France from the boat.

If you are staying in a hotel, you can ask the staff to recommend a boat rental. If you are staying in a house, ask the person who owns the property. Then, on the morning of the trip, head to the dock early for breakfast before boarding a boat to explore the French and Italian Rivieras. Ask your driver to moor the boat near the coast of Monaco, then swim to the island to grab an ice cream and relax on the beach.

Where to eat and drink

The Piazzetta

The triple cheese pizza was my favorite menu item.

Photos: Ama Kwarteng

The margarita pizza is also worth ordering.

La Piazzetta is near a church in the center of the old town and dinner is served in the outdoor seating area of ​​the restaurant, giving you a pleasant breeze and a nice view of the town square. The wood-fired pizza is the main draw of the restaurant – we ordered the margarita and triple cheese pies and the house white wine before finishing with a few scoops of gelato.

Restaurant in Scibretta

The pasta was so good that I forgot to take a picture of the food.

Photo: Ama Kwarteng

Ristorante a Scibretta has a super authentic feel – it’s almost like you’re in someone’s kitchen. The restaurant is famous for its ravioli, but the gnocchi and sautéed octopus are also worth trying. Be sure to call ahead or stop by to make a reservation; walk-in tables are hard to find.

Ittiturismo Luna Rosa

The menu changes depending on what the anglers are catching that day.

Photos: Ama Kwarteng

Definitely get the octopus! It was the best part of the meal in my opinion.

During the summer months, Ittiturismo Luna Rosa, one of the city’s famous fish markets, offers freshly caught seafood on the quayside above the ocean. The menu rotates depending on what’s caught that day, but I recommend ordering prawns, octopus, prawns and wine to wash it all down. The restaurant is open from Thursday to Sunday, from 7 p.m. until supplies last. Pro tip: go on a Thursday, if you can; the line will be much shorter than during the rest of the weekend.

Corte Cremeria

One of many gelato cones I had on my trip.

Photo: Ama Kwarteng

Your Bordighera food tour isn’t over until you’ve had an ice cream. Work up your appetite with an after-dinner stroll through town, stopping at Corte Cremeria and ordering two scoops of stracciatella in a cone.

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