Italy is just up the road and easily accessible. It takes about 40 minutes to get there from Nice on the A8 motorway. There is hardly any traffic on Sunday and there is no border control to go through as you cross into Italy.
As you cross the border you arrive on the Italian Riviera. The first town you come to is Vintimille. It is a small town that hugs the coast. The only way you can tell you are in Italy is from the change in the architecture – and the street signs of course. Not dissimilar to the buildings on the french riviera, there is something more humble about them. You also get the sense that you may have stepped back in time and arrived in circa 1950. The old town is slightly faded and frayed around the edges but retains all the charm of the towns along the Riveria with the same cobbled streets, and buildings all painted in apricot snuggled close together. On the coast the beach is lined with small private beaches with public beaches in between.
We head straight to the beach. We have already reserved beds in front of the water at Magama private beach. It is a simple place separated from the rest of the coastline by a sharp rock face.
We are really hungry so we head over to the restaurant. We all order grilled prawns and calamari with salad and a couple of plates of pasta with mussels to share. The kitchen is quite small and the restaurant is really busy so it takes a while for lunch to arrive. When it finally does everything is really fresh. Nothing ever comes close to pasta eaten in Italy.
We head back to the sandy beach. The beach umbrellas remind me of the little umbrellas used to garnish cocktails. We had reserved our beds at the beach before heading to Italy and it is probably worth doing to save disappointment. The sea is beautifully clear and calm. There are a couple of ladies on the beach offering full body massages for 20 euros. The massage takes 40 minutes and is done on the beach.
The day goes by all too quickly and we decide to head off in search of a coffee. The paved coastal path takes us past a number of bigger private beaches before we arrive at the town square. We opt for a quirky bakery that is just about to close and pick up a few flat breads and pizza slices. The sun is beginning to slip lower in the sky so we start to head home. Our journey back to Nice takes no time at all. We will be going back again soon.