Journeys through Memory
in the province of IMPERIA
“The Memory of the Alps” project aims to use the cross-border areas of the Alpine regions as a workshop for developing a different relationship with 20th-century history. The initiative stems from an agreement between the authorities of three countries, France, Italy and Switzerland, all of which regard the Alps, stretching from the Ligurian Sea to the Canton Ticino, as a single, border-less “diffuse museum of the territory”, located in the heart of Europe and filled with signs of its age-old history: a crossroads for the departure and return of emigrants, political exiles and Jews, a place of welcome and a refuge, the site of battles. In particular, the history of the years between 1938 (when the Race laws were passed in Italy) and 1945 (end of the Second World War), if set in a wider context, shows the extent to which and in what way geography and the culture of the Alpine regions influenced political and racial persecution, the events of the war, and the resistance movements.
A series of itineraries or places to visit are described in and around Imperia for tourists and anyone who is interested. All the sites are well marked and they reflect the themes mentioned above. The main stopping points (from Grimaldi to Colle di Nava) take the form of small villages in the inland areas, which abound in other attractions or sights related to the paths, roads and military fortifications, and to the beaches along the coast.
By choosing to travel along these routes you can forge a link between the present and the events of the past; for example, you can walk along the paths used by the Jews fleeing towards France, but the same paths were used only a few years earlier by the political opponents of Fascism, and again, after 1943, by the Jews escaping from the Côte d’Azur under German occupation. Some of the itineraries through the most striking landscape in the Ligurian Alps are also full of dramatic tales dating back to even older battles, as is borne out by the impressive system of military fortifications along the ridge (divided into various historical layers).
At the information centres, located at strategic points along the main roads into the area, visitors can pick up maps and other didactic and multimedia material available, which can also be viewed online.