|Città di Bordighera|
Panorama of Bordighera
|Frazioni||Borghetto San Nicolò, Sasso|
|• Mayor||Giuseppe Montebelli,
(Since March 12, 2011)
|• Total||10.41 km2 (4.02 sq mi)|
|Elevation||5 m (16 ft)|
|Population (May 31, 2007)|
|• Density||1,000/km2 (2,700/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Saint day||May 14|
Bordighera is located at 20 km from France and it is possible to see the French coast with a naked eye from the town. Having the “Capo Sant’Ampelio” which protrudes into the sea, it is the southernmost commune of the region. The cape is at around the same latitude of Pisa and features a little church built in the XIth Century for Sant’Ampelio, the patron saint of the city. Since Bordighera is built where the Maritime Alps plunge into the sea it benefits from the Foehn effect which creates a special microclimate that has warmer winters.
It seems that has been inhabited by the time of the Palaeolithic era since archaeologic researchers have found signs of human activities in the caves that are situated on the Italian and French coast. The first humans to alter the territory and create a structured society arrived in the VIth Century B.C., they were the Ligures, population from which derives the name of the region, “Liguria” in Italian.
The name of the city appears for the first time as “Burdigheta” in 1296, in a papal Bill written by Pope Boniface VIII. The area was particularly prosperous during Roman times because it was situated on the via Julia Augusta in the Ist Century B.C. After the fall of the Roman Empire the village was abandoned because of the frequent attacks by pirates and it is only in 1470 that some families of nearby villages such as the Borghetto San Nicolò decided to return to Bordighera. The Moorish pirates started becoming rarer and rarer even though some particularly cruel ones still occasionally happened such as the one by the pirate Hayreddin Barbarossa in 1543. With pirate attacks diminishing the strategic importance of the area became obvious to the Dukes of Savoy and the Republic of Genoa which fought for the territory in the XVIth Century. The small village was quickly transformed into a fortified town and gained importance until it became independent from the rival city “Ventimiglia” in 1683.
On the 20th of April 1686, the representants of eight villages, Camporosso, Vallebona, Vallecrosia, San Biagio, Sasso, Soldano, Borghetto and Bordighera have a meeting at the “Oratorio di San Bartolomeo” to build what will be called “Magnifica comunità degli otto luoghi”, which can be translated as: “The magnificent community of the eight locations”. The goal of this meeting is to unite and gain independence from the nearby rival city of Ventimiglia. In 1797 Bordighera loses its independence completely and becomes part of the “Palms Jurisdiction”, a region that included all of the land from Ventimiglia to Arma di Taggia and had Sanremo as capital.
The next change of power inside the region comes in 1815 in which the whole Liguria is annexed to the Kingdom of Sardegna after the Congress of Vienna. The Napoleonic influence will however stay and influence the area, a good example of it is the road “La Corniche” which, wanted by Napoleon Bonaparte, will reach Bordighera easing the movement of people and goods and boosting the development of what was once called “Borgo Marina”. That zone is what constitutes Bordighera today and the old town is simply called Old Bordighera or High Bordighera due to its position over the hill (in Italian “Bordighera Vecchia” or “Bordighera Alta”).
The Golden Age of the city comes in the XIXth Century when the low city is constructed next to the “Corniche” road and the sea which attracted English tourists. The touristic interest in Bordighera seems to have been sparked by a novel from Giovanni Ruffini, Il Dottor Antonio which was published in 1855 in Edinburgh and featured the town. In 1860, five years after the famous novel Il Dottor Antonio was published, the first hotel of Bordighera is opened, at the time it was named in French: “Hotel d’Angleterre”, but it is now known as Villa Elisa and is located in Via Vittorio Emanuele. The institution hosts its first famous resident in 1861, the British Prime Minister Lord John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, grandfather of Bertrand Russell.
In 1873, the railway station is inaugurated, it allowed to travel from Paris to Bordighera in only 24hrs, which at the time was remarkably fast. With the opening of the Calais-Rome Express railway on the 8th December 1883, the travelling time will get even shorter and 24hrs will be enough to travel from London to Bordighera.
In 1887, Stéphen Liégard, in his famous book “La Cote d’Azur”, dedicated several pages to Bordighera and gave it a name that will stick: “Queen of the Palm Trees”. He also quotes the fact that the Empress Eugenie was hosted at the “Grand Hotel de Bordighera” in the autumn of 1886.
On the 12th February 1941, the prime minister of the time, Benito Mussolini met Francisco Franco in Bordighera in order to discuss about the entry of Spain in the WWII together with the Axis powers. In July 1947, Evita Peron visited Bordighera and, in order to honour her visit the seaside promenade was named Lungomare Argentina. The road is 2.300m long, which makes it the longest promenade out of all those present in the Riviera.
Buildings and structures
- Casa Coraggio, Bordighera is one of the historic buildings in the city, there lived writers George MacDonald and Edmondo De Amicis.
- International Civic Library. The library was built in 1910 and restored in 1985 by the Genoese architect Gianfranco Franchini.
- Villa Etelinda. The villa was built in 1873 by Raphaël Bischoffsheim, sold in 1896 to Lord Claude Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and then in 1914 to Queen Margherita of Savoy.
- Villa Margherita (Bordighera). The villa was built by the architect Luigi Broggi and inaugurated on February 25, 1916. The villa became the official residence of Queen Margherita of Savoy during the winter season.
- Bicknell Museum located in the Via Romana has a very rich paleontological collection of Liguria. It also has an international library which includes more than 20,000 volumes.
- Villa Mariani was originally the cottage Mrs. Fanshawe, Pompeo Mariani, an Italian painter, bought the building in 1909, enlarged and built in the gardens of the Villa La Specola his workshop.
- Townhall (Bordighera), which was the old municipal schools, was built according to the plans of Charles Garnier (architect) in 1886. Within the walls of the gardens are the Marabutto, an old powder magazine, and three guns which defended the city from pirates and are cherished by the locals.
- Villa Garnier. The villa was built in 1872 by architect Charles Garnier (architect)
Churches and places of worship
- Waldensian Evangelical Church (Bordighera). The Waldensian church was built between 1901 and 1904 by architect Rudolph Winter, son of Ludwig Winter.
- Anglican Church (Bordighera). The church was built in 1873 by the English community in Bordighera, it was sold to the city in the late twentieth century. After restoration it became an important cultural center.
- Church of St. Mary Magdalen (Bordighera). The church has a marble group of Maddalena in Glory, designed by Filippo Parodi, sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini and students directed by his son Domenico Parodi.
- St. Bartholomew Oratory (Bordighera The oratory was built during the fifteenth century and is located in Bordighera alta, the old city.
- Church of the Immaculate Conception or Terrasanta (Bordighera) The church was built on design of the architect Charles Garnier (architect) and inaugurated in 1897.
- St. Ampelio Church (Bordighera). The church dates from the eleventh century and was built in honor of the saint hermit Ampelio, patron of the city.
Parks and other open air attractions
- Lowe Gardens (Bordighera). These were given to the city by Charles Henry Lowe in 1902.
- The gardens Moreno (Bordighera). The gardens of Villa Moreno are very large and luxurious. They were painted by Claude Monet in 1884.
- The Winter Gardens (Bordighera). These were created by botanist Ludwig Winter in the nineteenth century.
- The exotic garden Pallanca (Bordighera). This was created in 1860 by the Pallanca family and contains more than 3000 varieties of Succulent plant including a Copiapoa which is three hundred years old.
The Scottish writer George MacDonald lived and worked for parts of the year in Bordighera. His house was an important cultural centre for the British colony. He is buried at the churchyard of the former Anglican church. John Goodchild also ran a medical practice here for a number of years. It was here that he bought the blue bowl which he later took to Glastonbury. Other famous British-Italians who wintered and were buried here were the writer Cecilia Maria de Candia and her husband Sir Godfrey Robarts Pearse.
Claude Monet lived in Bordighera and painted numerous pictures of the town.
Cecilia Maria de Candia, a British-Italian writer, novelist and herbalist researcher, spent seasons writing in residence and eventually retiring at her cottage in this community until her final days. She was married to the British fencing champion Sir Godfrey Robarts Pearse.
- As Extraordinary Commission
- Forbes 1985: "Mario and Grisi" by Elizabeth Forbes, published in London in 1985 by Victor Gollancz Ltd.