Ventimiglia and Beyond: Your Sailing Guide
Monaco itself may not be the most adventurous destination, but it provides a fun and extremely glamorous starting point for a Mediterranean sailing experience, nestled between a bounty of incredible boating spots. However, until now it has been tough to dock in Monte Carlo, leaving many short-term visitors to anchor out in the bay and sacrifice their comfort. Both the Port of Fontvieille and Port Hercules are in high demand, and with only 40 berths big enough to house boats over 40 metres, over 50 requests a day for larger vessel mooring are said to be rejected in peak season. This has made stopping there seem nigh on impossible for sailing superyachts… until now.
Enter Cala Del Forte, Ventimiglia’s soon-to-be new state-of-the-art marina, conveniently located in this northern Italian city bordering France. Only 8 nautical miles from the Principality of Monaco, this new sister port of has been under construction since early 2017, and is now on schedule for completion in the second half of 2019. When finished, Cala del Forte promises to be the best equipped and most secure ports on the Med, so what better place to start your Mediterranean sailing trip? Read on for our complete guide to sailing Ventimiglia and the surrounding area.
Ventimiglia and the French Riviera
Ventimiglia in itself is a wonderful place, blessed with gorgeous weather and farmers markets renowned for their excellent local produce. Dine at one of many delicious Ligurian restaurants, shop until you drop at the vast selection of luxury boutiques and stroll around the old town drinking in its beauty; you certainly won’t be stuck for things to do here. The adventurous sailor in you will always want to explore further, but dock here for at least three nights - after all, it is not just Ventimiglia you want to explore but the dizzy heights of the French Riviera and the many beaches of South France.
Luxury boutiques, Michelin-star dining - try Le Louis XV - Alain Ducasse at the Hotel de Paris for unbridled opulence - and world-class spas will call you to nearby Monaco, just a thirty five minute drive from your yacht. Meanwhile Menton’s exotic gardens and charming beachfront - a 25 minute drive or 15 minute train ride away - provide a oasis of calm for when you need to get away from it all. Then, if you crave a more artsy scene, the diverse culture of Cannes is within easy reach by yacht, with buzzy St Tropez slightly further away but worth the sail if you crave the celebrity glamour of Plage de Pampelonne.
The Italian Coast
Once you’ve had your fix of the South of France, head back the other direction to experience the magic of the Italian coast. First sail to beautiful Genoa, renowned for its art and architecture. The grandeur of this port city will blow you away, whilst its twisting maze of narrow caruggi (streets), largely still intact, serve as a reminder of its history. Be sure to visit the Unesco-listed Palazzi dei Rolli to get a taste of its Enlightenment-era splendour. After spending a night or two here, cruise to nearby Portofino for your next adventure.
Portofino is known for its dreamy pastel-colored houses, high-end boutiques and divine seafood restaurants. It has retained its certain je ne sais quoi despite being a popular sailing yacht charter destination,and still offers countless opportunities to immerse yourself into traditional beach community culture. Secure an anchorage for the evening and grab dinner in the pretty Piazzetta. As dusk falls enjoy the watching the atmosphere liven up as the locals come out to eat, drink and be merry.
The Riviera is not short of rugged coastline or romantic communes, but the five stunning fishing villages of the Cinque Terre are truly iconic. With few roads, perfectly preserved architecture and a network of stunning coastal and mountain trails, this beautiful section of the Italian Riviera feels extremely authentic; a real must-visit spot. Sail here the following day and dock at either port Vernazza - pretty, but with only basic amenities - or port Monterosso, a more modern and affair with better facilities. Its five villages promise at least two days of relaxed exploration; Cinque Terre is somewhere best explored leisurely.
If secluded, tranquil islands are one of your favourite things about sailing, we can relate. It may be a slightly longer cruise to the island of Elba from Cinque Terre, but this treasure chest of sublime beach, with its turquoise waters and gorgeous golden sands that you can often enjoy all to yourself, is definitely worth it. Plus, it famously harboured French Emperor Napoleon in 1814 during his exile, so you’ll be in good historical company.
Then, hop across to Giglio, a mostly uninhabited island known for its unspoilt natural beauty. When you’re not enjoying the breathtaking scenery, why not visit the site of an ancient Etruscan shipwreck, dating all the way back to the early Iron age. Though a lot of the cargo of the ship, included copper and lead ingots, iron spits, amphorae, a Corinthian helmet and a wooden writing tablet with stylus have been looted, it still retains its sense of olde-worlde magic. Spend a day here reveling in the peace and quiet, and be sure to stay to watch the sunset on the beach. The perfect end to the perfect trip.
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