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Visiting Ventimiglia, Italy, Overlooked by Its Medieval Cathedral Tower: Reaching for the Sky & Subterranean Rumblings

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Ventimiglia, Italy, a view of the old town

Ventimiglia, Italy, a view of the old town

Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (Ventimiglia)

Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (Ventimiglia)

Neo-Pharaonic rumblings on a hill overlooking the city?

It is widely known that the Egyptian people deposed King Farouk in 1952 (1). It is less widely known that Farouk, who spent many years of exile in Italy, was also given sanctuary by the Principality of Monaco: the wider region's other connections with Egypt also deserve to be better known.

A few kilometres from Monaco is the Italian city of Ventimiglia, with its Medieval Cathedral at the summit of a hill on which the Old City is built, the tower of which reaches for the sky and overlooks the city and the Roia River, shortly before it flows into the Mediterranean.

Intriguingly, the Bishop of Ventimiglia (2) also concurrently holds the title of Bishop of Tanis, Egypt. In Antiquity, Tanis was the location of a royal necropolis, which replaced the Theban Valley of the Kings.

The hill on which the Cathedral and Old City of Ventimiglia are built was in Roman times a place for the cult of Juno, known as the special counsel and protector of the state. (In Egyptian mythology, the cult of Satis, identified with fertility and the flooding of the Nile, has sometimes been seen as corresponding with the cult of Juno.)(3)

One wonders what earthy, neo-Pharaonic wisdom concealed in such allusions may stimulate future aspirations among those who control such sites.

The tower of the Cathedral is Medieval, but with some Baroque facing. The main body of the building is noted for Romanesque styling and for a large, 11th century baptistery in octagonal shape (4).

The site of the original building dates from an ecclesiastical foundation dating from the 7th century.

Ventimiglia is situated in Italy's Liguria region. The address of the Cathedral is: Piazza della Cattedrale 18039 Ventimiglia (IM).

January 20, 2022

Notes

(1) Egyptian royalty had strong links with Italy. King Farouk's father and predecessor, Fuad I, grew up in Italy and attended Turin's military academy. Italy's King Victor Emmanuel III was welcomed into exile in Egypt by King Farouk after his abdication in 1946; for a number of years Victor Emmanuel ruled over Albania, from where Egypt's royal dynasty originated.

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(2) Interestingly also, while the Diocese also jointly serves San Remo, it was linked in the early 19th century with Aix-en-Provence, France; it has at various times also been linked with Milan and Genoa (as it is currently).

(3) The presence of the statue of Juno Sospita in the Vatican Museum serves as a tribute to the abiding relevance of allusions to Antiquity within ecclesiastical tradition; see also: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Juno_Sospita_Statue.jpg

(4) See also: https://www.britannica.com/place/Ventimiglia

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Also worth seeing

In Ventimiglia other ecclesiastical buildings include the Sant' Agostino and the San Michele churches; there are remains of a Roman amphitheatre; the Palazzo comunale , is a Rationalist style municipal building; its municipal gardens, dating from 1906, were created by Ludovico Winter.

In Grimaldi, (approx. distance: 8 kilometres) with its clifftop Mediterranean views and Grimaldi Tower, is Balzi Rossi, which has an archeological museum and caves.

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How to get there:

Alitalia flies to Genoa (Aeroporto di Genova); there are rail links from Genoa to Ventimiglia. The nearest sizable international airport to Ventimiglia is Nice, France (Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur). Delta Airlines flies direct from New York to Nice. The French railroad company SNCF serves stations between Nice and Ventimiglia (French: Vintimille). Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information, including travel and distancing restrictions. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Map location of Liguria, Italy  'User:David Legrand', GNU / Creative Commons 3.0 A-SA, wikimedia.org

Map location of Liguria, Italy 'User:David Legrand', GNU / Creative Commons 3.0 A-SA, wikimedia.org

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