The Friday market in the Riviera border town of Ventimiglia is quite a sight to behold, but if there were one piece of advice I would give you, particularly in August, it would be this: go on the train. We enjoyed a beautiful drive along the coast road from Roquebrune Cap Martin, passing through Menton, where we paused for a moment to gaze at the view that heads this blog, before sailing over the border into Italy to be greeted by more glorious glimpses of the Med. Ventimiglia itself, by contrast, was gridlocked.
Fortunately, my husband and son bravely agreed to battle through the traffic to find a parking spot while my daughter and I disappeared into the crowds and quickly browsed perhaps a kilometre of stalls along the seafront which were selling mostly shoes, clothes and bags. A tiny section of stalls on this stretch were piled high with pasta of assorted colours, huge hunks of parmesan, hams, salamis and olive oil based preserves. But this was not the Ventimiglia market we were looking for, so we headed back into town to seek out the covered food, vegetable and flower market (fish too) on Via Roma. We stopped briefly en route to pick up some slabs of pizza (tomato & anchovy and my favourite, gorgonzola) at La Boutique del Pane Mondino, also on Via Roma – no. 38. Their focaccia and farinata (chickpea pancake) are definitely worth a try if the awaiting crowd – I won’t call it a queue, we’re in Italy here – was anything to go by.
At the covered market, the boys finally joined us and we spent a happy half hour wandering through the cornucopia of fresh produce. The market was bustling; it almost exploded with colour; it was noisy with chatter, and money was changing hands for beautifully wrapped bundles of the highest quality baked and fresh goods.
After much debate we settled on two types of focaccia (olive oil and cipolla – onion), a ball of burrata wrapped in vine leaves (a mozzarella-like cheese that is unctuously gooey in the middle), and some gorgeous little ravioli, one box filled with salmon, the other with rabbit. With the pizza we’d bought earlier, that was lunch and supper sorted and supper for the next day too, all for around €32 for four people. Had we not been heading north the following day, I would have added fresh artichokes and borlotti beans to the basket and hunted out some recipes from my Riviera cookbook collection.
And so to lunch which was contemplated with greedy anticipation on the way home in the car. We enjoyed it slowly with a view of the Med and a bottle of rosé. Siestas soon followed. By the pool.