The result of a purely administrative \'merger\' of the municipalities of Oneglia and Porto Maurizio in 1923, Imperia is not a uniform town. It extends along the Riviera of Flowers, to the Ligurian sea outlet of the Caramagna and Impero streams, taking its name from the latter. Porto Maurizio, which appeared in about the VI century and was formerly a Roman fortification, is an intricate, picturesque town, already linked to Genoa in the XIII century. Conversely, Oneglia has a more complicated history, entailing repeated cessions and changes of property, among Spaniards, Genoese and French, the Ligurian Republic and Savoy. It extends in the small alluvial plain on the left of the mouth of the Impero stream, gathering itself around piazza Dante, from which some of the town\'s main streets depart. Today it is an industrial centre linked to the valley at its rear.
The city and its monuments
In the Imperia territory, medieval art is contrasted by a multiplicity of Baroque monuments. In fact, in the XVII-XVIII centuries, these valleys enjoyed a long period of cultural riches, which left their mark on architecture, painting, sculpture and decorative art. There are many works to be found in the churches, palazzos, private houses, in oratories, and in high-class buildings which have since been abandoned. There are also works by Van Dyck, who hid in the hinterland of Porto Maurizio, due to a misadventure of love. In Oneglia you can start off from piazza Dante, the core of the modern town. Its porticoes surround the central fountain, built in 1820. Here also, you will find the former Town-Hall and the Law Court Palazzo, the seat of all the law offices of the administrative centre. Instead, Palazzo Doria is a building of considerable historic importance. This was the birth place of Andrea Doria, the celebrated admiral and politician who, after living a long way from his native town, returned there in 1538 and was host to pope Paul II and emperor Charles V, in this very house. The cathedral, in neo-classical style and of purposely exceptional dimensions, emerges over the surrounding buildings as a symbol of achieved well being and progress. Dedicated to San Maurizio, it was designed in 1781 and completed in 1838.
The geographical area
The zone between Genoa and the French border is a succession of well known seaside tourist locations, towns full of fascination which deserve to be visited bit by bit, and some very beautiful bays interrupted by pretty promontories, an ideal land for flower growing. San Remo is the "town of flowers", also known for the Italian song festival. During the entire belle époque it was one of the choice destinations of the Victorian middle-class. Diano Marina is a climatic and seaside centre in a favoured position: gardens overlooking the sea, and elegant villas in the greenery of the promontory have replaced the old habitat, traditionally dedicated to the olive oil trade. We recommend seeing the flower decorations of the Corpus Domini, a procession in the streets of the centre, which are covered with flowers. Finally, Ventimiglia is a seaside tourist resort, a commercial and agricultural centre at the mouth of the Roia river, close to the French frontier.