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A palm grove with a sea view in Bordighera

Bordighera – A beautiful place, hanging over the sea, that vertical one in Liguria described by so many writers and poets. A magical and unique place. It is the Palm Grove in Bordighera, above the area of Arziglia, at the entrance of the town.

According to legend, it was the hermit and blacksmith Sant’Ampelio, the patron saint of

Bordighera, to bring dates from Egypt in the fourth century. The origin of the current Palm grove probably dates back to the Middle Ages, a period in which the town was beginning to be built. In past centuries, the date palm assumed a strong economic importance, constituting an important activity for many families in Bordighera. At one time there were nearly thirty thousand palms, then they decreased to a thousand in the nineteenth century. It is no coincidence Bordighera is defined as “the city of palms”. The international fame of the Riviera was largely linked to the image of exotic plants, especially palm trees from the Palm Grove in Bordighera, which produced palm leaves for Jewish and Christian religious celebrations.

The Date Palm Grove in Bordighera is the world’s northernmost palm cultivation (43 degrees of latitude). A palm magistrate used to organize the production and sale of plants. And it is from these that the “parmureli”, the pale leaves, skillfully interwoven, were made and exhibited on the Sunday before Easter.

One of the main proponents of the introduction of palms in Europe was the German landscape architect Ludwig Winter (1846-1912), a German man from Heidelberg who worked with the Hanbury family for seven years. His Palm-Garten still stands today at the entrance of the Stone Valley, in the heart of the Palm Grove in Bordighera. It was, at the time, the richest collection of palm trees. Ludwig Winter created here a nursery with a commercial vocation, for the export of potted seedlings and a secular handicraft inspired by the local traditional interweaving. It was also intended for the acclimatization of new species and the reception of tourists.

Even today, the appeal remains unchanged.

[Marco Scolesi]

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