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Historic establishments: Balzola, Piccardo and Royal Hotel

Among the 240 Italian historic establishments, three are in western Liguria: the cafe-patisserie “Balzola” in Alassio, the “Piccardo” patisserie in Imperia and the hotel “Royal” in Sanremo.

“Our establishment – says Carlo Maria Balzola, who now manages the famous pastry shop with his sister Maria Teresa – was born in 1902 when my great-grandfather, Pasquale, decided to buy the store which had been closed for years.” This is how the first tavern with stabling was born, followed by an elegant cafe-pastry shop. Famous names such as Mina, Celentano, Modugno, spent a few pleasant moments here when passing through Alassio in its heyday.

When Pasquale retired, his son Rinaldo, the pastry chef of the Royal House of Savoy who invented the Baci of Alassio, carried on the business. Today there is the fourth generation at the helm, but it is almost certain that there will be a fifth, as the small Benedetta and Angelica, 3 and 1 years old, the daughters of Carlo Maria, are already beginning to get their “hands dirty”.

Another feather in the cap of our West Liguria is the “Piccardo” patisserie in central Piazza Dante. It was 1905 when Giacomo Piccardo, with his sister Teresa, arrived from Genoa Voltri and bought what was then the Café delle Poste. Thus, the Ideal Bar was born, a very modern establishment for its time. There are so many delicacies which can be tasted in this old-fashioned patisserie. How to forget Fausto Coppi, Italo Calvino and Sandro Pertini among the distinguished guests who, at least once, have called in at “Piccardo’s”?

Sanremo also has its historic establishment. It is the Royal Hotel, which overlooks the majestic Corso Imperatrice. This charming, five-star luxury hotel, has been owned by the descendants of the founder Lorenzo Bertolini since 1872. 143 years on, it has preserved a unique atmosphere of yesteryear. Even during the Belle Époque, the Royal Hotel hosted the big names of the aristocracy and nobility from all over Europe in its luxurious rooms. As years have gone by, it has become the favourite place of many Italian singers and artists. It still hosts customers at the highest level.

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