San Remo: 140km (87 miles) W of Genoa, 59km (37 miles) E of Nice; Bordighera: 155km (96 miles) W of Genoa, 15km (9 1/4 miles) W of San Remo, 45km (28 miles) E of Nice

Gone are the days when Tchaikovsky and the Russian empress Maria Alexandrovna joined a well-heeled mix of nobils strolling along San Remo’s palm-lined avenues. They left behind an onion-domed Orthodox church, a few grand hotels, and a casino, but San Remo is a different sort of town these days. It’s still the most cosmopolitan stop on the Riviera di Ponente, as the stretch of coast west of Genoa is called, and caters mostly to sun-seeking Italian families in the summer and Milanese who come down in the winter months to get away from the fog and chilly temperatures of their city.


San Remo is an excellent base from which to explore the rocky coast and Ligurian hills. So is charming Bordighera, a quieter resort just up the coast. With excellent train and bus connections, both are within easy reach of a full itinerary of fascinating stops, including Giardini Hanbury, one of Europe’s most exquisite gardens; the fascinating prehistoric remains at Balzi Rossi; and Dolceacqua, perhaps the most enticing of all the inland Ligurian villages.