I often use my free Saturday mornings to go to the farmers market in Nice. I usually enjoy it a lot, but I have to admit that sometimes I would just feel like doing something else, using this free time to go places and break the routine. If one thing is convenient in Europe, it is the possibility to reach in no time another country and feel a total change of atmosphere. From Nice, fly 45 minutes to reach beautiful Geneva – Switzerland; fly 2 hours to go salute William and Kate in London – UK; fly an hour and go stuff yourself with tapas in Barcelona – Spain; and ride the train for 45 minutes only to reach Italy and go grocery shopping in the city of Ventimiglia just across the border. That is what I decided to do that Saturday morning. A good opportunity to enjoy the view of the French Riviera coastline from the train and take a few pictures – although the weather was not at its best at all.
There are trains going from Nice to Ventimiglia every 25 minutes on weekends. Thanks to that, there is no need to plan your trip ahead, as you can purchase your ticket just minutes before the train departs. I would advise though to buy a return ticket and to check out the return trains schedule, as in Italy everything stops in the afternoon for more than 2 hours after lunch time (that’s why it is called a lunch break, and not just lunch time!), and you don’t want to miss the last train before that afternoon break (or you’ll have to wait till 3.30 or 4.00 pm that the trains resume). Museums and galleries are closed, stores are mostly closed too, and you don’t want to have churches as your last and only touristic option.
There are many stores where you can buy food in Ventmiglia at a walking distance from the station. The city is not that big, so I first had a long walk to check out where would be the interesting places, but I quickly narrowed them down to two places: the Carrefour Market, and the outdoor (actually semi-opened warehouse) Mercato dei Fiori (literally the Flowers Market). If you happen to come to Ventimiglia by car, you will be able to go to a third place in the district of Latte, the Conad supermarket, for the best deals. Buying fresh nice mix-sized olives and a pack of stuffed pepperoncini was nice while strolling in between the flower shops next to the cheese and cured sausage shops! A fun combination of colors, aromas, textures and flavors! I strongly suggest you click on the pictures to open them in a wider view, I promise you will get the feeling of my day trip and drool all over your things (and will feel good about it!). Really, open those nice pictures, I am ordering you!
Ventimiglia, during the weekend, is full of French people who had the same idea as I had. Grocery shopping is so much nicer in Italy! If you subtract the cost of going back and forth, all produces are cheaper and of far better quality than in France. Bell peppers are enormous and juicy, eggplants are nice and firm, tomatoes are red and long-lasting. You can find all types of charcuterie (cured meats) at very good price, and a wide range of high quality fresh Italian cheese such as Mozzarella di Buffala Campana or the creamy Mozzarella Burrata. I’ve even found Mozzarella slices that we don’t have in France. I’ve also bought some Brigante al Pepperoncino, a mild cheese stuffed with crumbs of red bell pepper. Delicious! And of course I got a nice piece of Parmeggiano Reggiano to grate over nice pasta.
Do you know what Panettone and Limoncello are? They are two famous Italian specialties that you MUST try if you get a chance. Panettone is a brioche that you can only find in Italy, made of various spices, raisins and candied fruits. I love eating panettone, first of all because it tastes amazing, but also because it reminds me of the taste of childhood -at least my childhood, as my dad would often come home just before the weekend with a panettone in hand, telling one of his Italian patients had offered one to him for us to share and enjoy a nice Sunday family breakfast together. Limoncello, on the other hand, is something I have discovered much later in my life, as it is a very strong digestive alcohol that is very common to drink after a meal in Italy. It is lemon-based (see the nice yellow flashy color?), but believe me, it is actually much more alcohol-based, hahaha! We can’t really say that Limoncello is in competition with the nice Italian wines because I don’t think they are. Proof is that buyers buy limoncello and then go to the next door’s beautiful wine and cheese shop to purchase good bottles of Tuscany wines too.
Here is a picture that I took once I got back home of all the nice goods I’ve brought back from Italy. I think this grocery shopping session was a nice excuse for a day tour out of town (and as a matter of fact, out of the country!). It was quite relaxing, I must say, and shopping for our weekly food turned out to be more fun than the usual duty call! I’ll do it again.
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi, © 2016 All Rights Reserved.