Sanremo – the B-Side

Sanremo – the B-Side

If I say Sanremo, it’s impossible not to think about it’s Festival, the Milano-Sanremo bike race, luxurious shops, high society life, the grand marina.
But real life is completely different in a neighbourhood called Pigna (literally pine cone), and it’s the heart of the city: it’s historical centre.
iliguria_sanremo_side_b_004From the famous Via Matteotti, where the Ariston theatre is located, any side street, will bring you up to Pigna. What impresses me every time I come, is how, in barely one hundred meters, one finds himself from a fashionable environment, equally shared between elegant restaurant patios, and flashy shop window displays to a confused crossing of narrow and steep streets, that in some stretches are actually dark due to the fact that the buildings are so tightly clustered, they prevent light from passing between them.
iliguria_sanremo_side_b_011Walking slowly, I can see better as I try not to judge the disharmony that surrounds me, after all, it’s just another face of that perfection that I have never liked. And can you beat the wonder of hand written signs?


Pigna seems (I say seems but I think is), a neighbour abandoned from the rest of the city, but in spite of this, able to keep up a certain dignity, at least this is what seems to me, but I’m just passing by, I wonder what it must be like to live here.
I know for certain that the common sense of decency keeps labelling this area as “not really suggested”.

iliguria_sanremo_side_b_012The scent of far away spices effuses from the windows. Necessity becomes a virtue, different ethnic groups have learnt to share these tiny spaces.


iliguria_sanremo_side_b_016iliguria_sanremo_side_b_017From up here, Sanremo looks bigger, the city has colonized the hills and suddenly the old houses of the historical centre appear fabulous to my eyes when I confront them to the big buildings that peer in the distance.
If you think of it, in the 50s Calvino wrote: “the building market is starting to show signs of saturation”. 

iliguria_sanremo_side_b_008As I walk back down, I run into San Siro Cathedral (located in the namesake square), its construction dates back to eleven hundred and although it did not look as we see it today, it is recognised that it exists since 800 A.D.

iliguria_sanremo_side_b_022I extend my walk back to the old fisherman’s port, I think it’s the best way to conclude my alternative travel.
iliguria_sanremo_side_b_019As I stroll thoughtfully along the pier, a lady asks me:
“Silvia, is that you ?”
“No, my name is Paola”
“Oh, you really look like her…” she sais looking for a sign of agreement in the eyes of the lady that is walking next to her.
“Thank you”, I say smiling and wondering who she must have mistaken me for.

It happens some times, to be tied to a relative judgement made during the years, then all it takes is for someone to mistake you for someone else, and you find yourself doubting about your certainties.Just like if now, I told you that Pigna looks like a nice place, despite it’s lack of classical features, would it be sufficient to put in doubt your convictions, to arouse your curiosity and motivate you to go and visit it ? I very much hope so.

Sanremo – the b/side
Liguria – Sanremo

testi e fotografie: paola faravelli
Traduzione: Daniela Menzano 

un articolo sulla Pigna scritto sul blog del Touring Club: Sanremo la città riaperta

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