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Sanremo lived by Calvino

by Laura Guglielmi

Sanremo is everywhere in my books, it is especially seen by above, and it is inside “Le città invisibili”: this is what Italo Calvino said during an interview. In the itinerary we are going to do, we will not discover Sanremo by above, but we will enter the streets, the squares, the “carruggi” (typical Ligurian narrow streets), and we will get close to the port and to the sea.

Our trip in Sanremo starts with Piazza Nota, where a memorial tablet rimembers that the famous writer attended high school in this town, with his school-mate Eugenio Scalfari. This memorial tablet also rimembers that Calvino was a partisan: the writer talks about that experience in one of his books, “Ultimo viene il corvo”, where you can find beautiful descriptions of the inland.

After crossing Piazza Eroi Sanremesi and Via Faraldi, you will get to the Centrale cinema. In the afternoon, instead of studying, Calvino often went to the cinema; he was fascinated by the images of the big screen.

If you go through Corso Matteotti, you can see the Casino, which Calvino talked about many times.

At the end of Corso Matteotti, on the right, you can also find the Russian church and then, after an underpass, the Empress Promenade. Calvino often came here with his friends.

If you want to get to the old port, you have to go through the underpass again, turn right and walk along Lungomare delle Nazioni. Here Calvino saw the sunrise, after the first night he spent out.

We also recommend you to walk along the pier: you can look at the most beautiful picture of the town from here and see “la Pigna” (the hitorical centre) and the “Madonna della Costa” Sanctuary, which the writer talks about in his book “La strada di San Giovanni”.

After walking along Corso Nazario Sauro, turn left and go through Piazza Sardi, Piazza Bresca and Via Gaudio: you will get to Corso Matteotti again and you will see Borea d’Olmo Palace, with an elegant baroque facade.

Go through Piazza Colombo, Via Garibaldi and Via Pallavicini, turn left into Via Volta and you will find Salita San Pietro: here there is the Meridiana villa, where Calvino lived with his family. In his book “La strada di San Giovanni”, the writer talks about the route he was used to do, from his villa to his father’s garden, through Via Borea, Via Dante Alighieri and San Giovanni mule track. “Giovanni Marsaglia” nursing home and Palais d’Agra (Via Borea 35) are still the same when Calvino was alive. This route is quite complicated because the landscape has been changed, so we recommend you to reach St. John’s Church by car: Calvino’s garden was there, in the place where there are the motorway pillars today. Libereso Guglielmi, Calvino’s father’s gardener, still lives in Via Dante Alighieri. The writer dedicated his tale “Un pomeriggio, Adamo” to him.

While if you want to reach the entrance of the Meridiana villa, from Via Volta you have to turn into Via Meridiana: when you get to number 82, you will see what is left of the tropical plants park of Mario Calvino and Eva Mameli, the writer’s parents. Today Calvino’s villa is pink and unrecognizable.

If you come back to Via Volta and go through Largo Volta, you will enter Via Roglio and the historical centre, “la Pigna”. If you turn left, you will get to Via Romolo Moreno, a typical Ligurian “carruggio”. At the end of Via Moreno if you go through the “Rivolte di San Sebastiano”, you can have a snack in one of the typical pubs you will find here. Then you can reach Piazza dei Dolori. Now try to get lost through the “carruggi” of the historical centre: you will not regret it!

If you want to come back to Piazza Nota, just go back to the “Rivolte”, turn right and go beyond the entrance door of the “Pigna”.

(riproduzione vietata)


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