Imperia is located in West Liguria and it is the capital of the province of Imperia. It has a very interesting history and, above all, its hills are surrounded by olive groves, where fantastic and delicate olive oil is produced!
How to reach Imperia?
- by car – it’s super easy because on the A10 motorway you take the Imperia Ovest or Imperia Est exit and then follow the “centro” signs. More info here. It’s also easy to get here if you take the free SS1 Aurelia state road. It leads through the city centre, and before you reach it, it leads along the coast.
- by train – also super easy – Imperia station is an important railway station. All types of trains stop here, you can also get here from France by trains of French railways. More info here.
- by bus – lines 12, and then from 20 to 29, connect Imperia with the surrounding towns. The ticket depends on how long lasts your trip, from 1.50 € – 4.50 €. More info here.
It will be short this time 🙂 Imperia was founded by the decree of the King of Italy Vittorio Emanuele III in 1923 by merging two independent towns into one municipality: Oneglia and Porto Maurizio. The name that was chosen for the new town, was Imperia, that comes from the river, Impero, which separates both ex municipalities.
Things to see& do
Of course, visiting Imperia should be split into two towns … Oneglia on the eastern side of the Impero river and western Porto Maurizio.
Let’s start with Oneglia, which is located in the lowland part of Imperia. The most characteristic part of Oneglia is its picturesque harbour. The harbour is large and many yachts and fishing boats are moored there. Along the coast, were built picturesque houses with arcades, in which numerous restaurants, shops and even a fish market are located.
Andrea Doria house
He is probably the most important figure in the history of the Republic of Genoa (apart from Cristopher Columbus of course 😉 ). Andrea Doria was an admiral, politician and nobleman of the Republic of Genoa. His extremely rich, international career and impressive achievements in the seas made him make an amazing fortune. Although he was never elected the Genoa’s doge, he was in the centre of the policy of the Republic of Genoa during his years of activity. It can be said without exaggeration that the fate of the Republic of Genoa depended on him. And so, in the harbour of Oneglia is the house where he was born.
Collegiata di San Giovanni Battista
Moving inland from the harbour, you will see the square where the main church of Oneglia is located. The church is dated from the early 18th century. The facade is maintained in the late Baroque style, as well as the interiors.
More inland you can find a fascinating villa. It was built by Adrian Wettach, a world-famous clown who was called “Grock”. Currently, the villa is the property of the municipality of Imperia and you can visit its gardens and interiors, in which the clown museum is located.
Museo dell’ Olio
Of course, knowing that Imperia is famous for its olive oil production, the olive oil museum could not be missing here. It is located next to the factory of one of the largest producers of olive oil in Liguria, Carli. The museum has exhibits showing the history and development of olive oil production in this part of Liguria. More info here.
Moving to the western part of Imperia, you have to cross the Impero river and then go up the hill where the old town of Porto Maurizio is located. This part of Imperia is much more picturesque.
Basilica di San Maurizio
This basilica is the main temple of Porto Maurizio. It was built between the 18th and 19th centuries in a neoclassical style. It is the biggest church in all of Liguria!
From the square in front of the church, you can do nothing more than start climbing the characteristic narrow streets of the old town. The whole old town is located on a fairly steep hill called Parasio. When walking around it, be sure to see the following places:
Oratorio di San Pietro
You will get there following the signs. It is probably (there are no written documents) the oldest religious building in Imperia. Its creation is dated back to the beginning of the 12th or 13th century. Over the centuries, it has been rebuilt many times and preserved in the late Baroque style. Currently, under renovation, it is closed to visitors. However, from the square in front of the oratory, there is a beautiful view of the west coast of Liguria and the French Cote d’Azur.
Logge di Santa Chiara
To the left of the oratory, you will see one of the most amazing constructions in Imperia. Loggias are part of the Poor Clares monastery adjacent to them. The monastery still functions and is inhabited by nuns who live in the monastery. Hence, visitors can only see the church, loggias and parlatori, i.e. rooms where you can talk to the nuns without seeing them. It is also possible to spend a few days meditating in the monastery, of course, this is reserved only for women. The most impressive characteristic of the loggias is that they are located on the edge of the hillside, from which you can admire the Ligurian coast and the open sea.
Rests of Porto Maurizio church
Strolling through the narrow streets of the old town you will also reach a large, panoramic square. At the wall of one of the buildings standing at the square, you will see the remains of arcades, ornaments and columns of the former church that was located here. The church came from the 15th century and had 3 naves and 14 altars. In the 19th century, the inhabitants of Porto Maurizio decided to build a new church, the current basilica di San Maurizio, and the previous church was demolished.
Tipico carrugio ligure
Going down the stairs from the remains of the church, you’ll see signs for “tipico carrugio ligure”. This is an example of a typical narrow street that characterized Ligurian cities in the Middle Ages.
You can’t leave Imperia without buying olive oil! The entire province of Imperia is famous for the production of this liquid gold! The olive oil from this area is produced from taggiasche olives, which are characterized by the very small size and very delicate taste. Hence, olive oil from these areas is very delicate and aromatic. The best souvenir you can bring from here! If you are interested in olive harvest you can check info here.
To sum up, Imperia is one of the biggest cities in Liguria and it is also one of the less touristy! Very picturesque and there are many wonderful places in its surroundings (Sanremo, Dolceacqua, Apricale, Bussana Vecchia, Triora, Dolcedo, Valloria, Cervo) do not forget to add Imperia to your Ligurian travel plan!
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