Discovering the Ligurian Riviera
Settembre 17, 2020
Also today we want to propose you one of our motorcycle tours to discover our territory. This time we take you to Imperia to get to know the figure of General Manuel Belgrano, whose paternal family was originally from a hamlet of the city: Costa d'Oneglia.
As usual, we will take the opportunity to stop here and there among the historical villages and find some characteristic views or, simply, let ourselves be carried away by the pleasure of the trip.
Curious by the history of General Belgrano, we decide to start our tour of Imperia starting from the statue on the seaside promenade of Oneglia, in Borgo Peri. In reality Manuel Belgrano was not born here, but his father, Domenico Belgrano, who moved to Buenos Aires in 1754.
We read on Wikipedia that his success in commerce allowed him to send the future General Belgrano to study in Europe, to become a well-known economist. But Europe was not a simple study trip for the young man. Here the young Manuel Belgrano came into contact with Enlightenment ideas, which led him to embrace the cause of independence once he returned to Argentina. He was, in fact, among the leaders of the revolution of May 1810 and participated in the war of independence. But what intrigues us most, who knows why, is that he was the creator of the Argentina flag.
The day is sunny but windy, and this suggests us to drive the scooter with caution. We start from our apartments in Diano Marina and we arrive at the bottom of Capo Berta; at the small traffic circle we turn left and continue in the direction of the seafront. Almost at the end of the promenade we find the statue of Manuel Belgrano and we photograph it. Later on, we will visit Costa d'Oneglia.
We continue along the road that runs along the sea and the beaches of Imperia, until we reach the Incompiuta, the pedestrian street that connects Imperia to Diano Marina. On a windy day like today, the sea offers a spectacular scenery: majestic waves, ideal for the evolutions of the many wind surfers we meet. We also take the opportunity to photograph the famous Galeazza rock, which seems to disappear under the swells of late summer.
After watching the spectacle of the sea fascinated, we resume our tour and head towards Villa Grock. All the people of Imperia know the history of this place, the home of the brilliant Swiss clown Adrian Wettach known as Grock, who after making generations of children and adults (including Chaplin) laugh, decided to move to West Liguria. The villa is a curious mix of styles, and fully reflects the eclectic spirit of the Swiss artist. Esoteric and Masonic symbols are hidden behind the architectural elements, as well as references to the circus culture to which Grock dedicated much of his life.
To visit Villa Grock and the park, with the adjoining Clown Museum, you must make an appointment. At the moment, therefore, we limit ourselves to taking pictures from the outside.
We leave Villa Grock and go back to the center of Oneglia district, to visit the central streets: Piazza San Giovanni with its characteristic arcades, via Amendola and via Bonfante. Unfortunately, however, we are not able to photograph the famous fountain in Piazza Dante, because it is being renovated.
So we decide to visit the port of Oneglia, an ancient port of call for goods and fishing boats. We walk along Calata Cuneo and stop to admire the houses from the quay of the port, called "Molo Lungo". At a certain point we remember that right here some scenes of "The Bourne Identity", the Hollywood movie with Matt Damon, were shot. From here we continue towards the second district of Imperia, Porto Maurizio. After taking the road to the Duomo, we take a walk in the pedestrian area of Via Cascione.
Around us we do not see a living soul: the early afternoon of a Sunday at the end of summer - we say to ourselves - certainly does not tempt people to wander around this street.
We decide to change area and walk to the Parasio and the Logge di Santa Chiara. This is a characteristic promontory of Porto Maurizio that we like to visit every time we are in the area. The pedestrian streets that lead to the Parasio district are a unique opportunity to discover characteristic corners. Here, history can be seen on the facades of the palaces and old stores.
Once there, we decide to continue towards the famous Logge di Santa Chiara, the native house of St. Leonard - the patron saint of Imperia - and the characteristic Oratory of St. Peter, with its unmistakable baroque style. In front of the oratory there is a small square, almost a theatrical backdrop on the panorama from the coast to the hill. On this side we are struck by the view of a church lying on a promontory.
It is the church of Monte Calvario, which we decide to visit as soon as we take the scooter. First, however, we must visit the Logge di Santa Chiara, whose structure is one of the most recognizable in Imperia. We cross the portico of the Logge, which open onto the blue Ligurian Sea.
Here, as in an embrace, the intense scent of the sea envelops us.
Let's retrace the road already taken and take the scooter back to head towards Mount Calvario, which intrigued us just before. After a series of roads in the outskirts of Porto Maurizio we finally reach our destination. In front of us stands a beautiful church, the Sanctuary of Santa Croce, which fits placidly on a well-kept lawn and traditionally frequented by many people. The view of Porto Maurizio and, further away, Oneglia, is wonderful: we take advantage of it to take several photos.
After having rested in the meadow, we decide to continue our journey towards the bathing area of Porto Maurizio: the Prino. Here the river of the same name flows down from the nearby valley of Dolcedo.
We take the opportunity to admire the promontory of Porto Maurizio and take some more photos. From here you can also see the characteristic houses of the village of Prino and that of Foce, not far away. We reach this last district, and we park near a wooden bridge that connects the area of Fondura from the one of Foce.
We do not have a real destination, so we decide to walk towards the suggestive lovers' walk that runs along the coast, overlooking the sea. Unfortunately, not all the points of this road are accessible as in the past, and we have to give up going down the stairs.
The characteristic tourist, port and commercial area of Porto Maurizio, the Marina, is not far away and we reach it by motorcycle parking near an Orthodox church. We can't miss a walk, and we walk along the whole pier until we reach an old beacon.
The port has been reorganized in the past years and today it looks really wide. In addition to a fleet of fishing boats, it houses many pleasure boats and motorboats of various sizes. We continue our tour until we decide to reach the hamlet of Costa d'Oneglia.
Before arriving at our destination we pass in front of the Naval Museum and the Museum of the Villa Faravelli complex, which we promise to visit as soon as possible. We then head towards the first hinterland of Oneglia.
We know that it will not be easy to reach the hamlet, due to the closure of the main road that from the beginning of the district of Castelvecchio winds along the hills to the village. But we are not discouraged and we decide to visit the village where Manuel Belgrano's family was born. From a detour of the road that goes up to the church of Santa Maria Maggiore we can walk along a road between small villas and cultivated gardens. The Taggiasca olive trees are the recurring motif of our entire journey, which seem to share with us.
We arrive in front of the Manuel Belgrano Club, and the gravestone where we remember the origins of the General's family. We then cross the narrow streets of the village until we reach the main square, where there is a bust of Belgrano.
Our journey ends here, with a tribute to the figure of the Argentine General from Costa d'Oneglia. This journey has left us many questions; we wonder if the borders between states can be blurred, and what is the weight of cultural roots; if it is possible to call home a place far from the home of one's father and what is, in the end, the true meaning of "home".
We believe we know it and for this reason we can't wait to return to our farm holidays in Diano Marina , among the green gardens and our greenhouses.