It is kept in a state of constant turmoil with the comings and goings of excursionists from the French Riviera. Masses of exuberant flowers cascade down the slopes, the flower market is preeminent above all others. There are caves on the shore, the wreck of a castle on the hill above the town, an archaeological museum in the town itself (www.marventimiglia.it) and a sailing school at the harbour. Do not miss Villa Hanbury (www.giardinihanbury.com), the most extensive botanical acclimatization garden in all the Mediterranean. The overpowering array of exotic plants and shrubs (even in January, says the curator, there are more than 200 species in bloom) owes its existence to Thomas Hanbury, the Englishman who laid the place out on the sea-facing terraces of Capo Mortola in 1867. His descendants handed it to the Italian Government in 1960. Villa Hanbury is at Mortola Inferiore, 6 km west of Ventimiglia.
Dolceacqua, 9 km north on an easy road, has on its commanding heights a castle of the Doria princes of Genoa, haunted by the ghost of the peasant girl Filomena, who appears at dawn and dusk in disarrayed bridal gown and veil. She is thought to have been a reluctant participant in the Doria family’s jus primae noctis, a privilege they conscientiously observed until the 19thC.