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The Autostrada dei Fiori, light, shade and breath-taking landscapes

“Shade and sun alternate/ through those deep valleys/which hide from the sea, across/paved roads/which go upwards, through fields of roses, wells and broken lands”

Thus the poet Vincenzo Caldarelli described Liguria a century ago: today the picture of the Ponente is not really changed. This is the view that can be enjoyed from the Autostrada dei Fiori in the section which connects Savona to the French border. The 113 km of the motorway cut through the harsh orography of the land, cleaving it with 67 tunnels and forcing the traveller to striking alternations between light and shade. The road satisfies everyone: it is enjoyed by those who love the drive along the uninterrupted series of curves, tunnels and high viaducts, but it will also win over the passenger glued to the window.

Opened in 1971, the A10 begins in Italian land, in Ventimiglia, in front of the majestic cliffs above Roverino. The rest area of Bordighera Sud is well worth the trip, cantilevered as it is over the sea and surrounded by untouched nature: the Mediterranean maquis dominates it and the scents win you over, mimosa, broom, pines and myrtle. As you move on, the hills are increasingly covered by farmed terraces, created by man. Here and there you can spot water tanks and greenhouses for floriculture. Writers such as Nico Orengo and Francesco Biamonti fell in love with this part of Liguria and exquisitely described its ambience.

Once past the extensive urban area of  Sanremo, a very large curve shows us the ancient town centre of Taggia with its crammed houses close to each other and the medieval city wall. Behind us the Argentina Valley opens up reaching Mount Faudo and its tops often covered in snow. A few minutes of road and the view changes again, leading us to skirt the intense green and undulating path of the Castellaro golf field.

Parasio, the old part of Imperia, with the Logge of Santa Chiara and the imposing Duomo, dominate the landscape while the motorway crosses the main city of the province. A few more minutes and we reach the Andora exit: here, when the Romanesque church of Santi Giacomo e Filippo and the remains of the 13th century castle of Andora are lit up, they are well worth a night excursion.

[Ilaria Grigoletto]

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