by Ilaria Sismondini

VINTIMILLE. At the beginning of 2020, a new scenario is planned for the city of Vintimille, thanks to two international restyling operations of its territory. First, the opening of the new Vintimille port scheduled for early 2020 that is crucial both for the town and for the Principality of Monaco, whose two ports are saturated. In 2016, the Monaco Ports Operating Company created the Monaco International Port Company managing new projects in Italy. The first project named Cala del Forte is an integral part of the historic and active collaboration between the Principality of Monaco and Liguria.

The project is also an expression of Monaco’s willingness to participate in the economic development of its neighbouring countries in a more and more synergistic way, as has already happened on several occasions with France. Mr. Marco Cornacchia, Cala del Forte’s harbormaster, announced that all the construction works for Monaco’s newest marina are proceeding on schedule. The marina is slated for completion by the 2nd half of 2019.


According to the latest update published on the official website of Cala del Forte, 85% of the work has been completed: from the top of the Vintimille medieval city, you can already see the breakwaters, the outer walls, the main pier, and the two pontoons that will support 178 moorings for boats from 6.5 to over 60 meters length. After the consolidation of the rocky slopes, of which 90% has been made, the works of both the road and the elevator going up and down from the medieval village to the Marina will start.


Electric golf cars will circulate inside the port to transport people and goods. Many services will be offered by a number of qualified personnel, able to provide moorings and the staff will be chosen through open competitions to which all interested citizens are invited to participate. A professional preparatory course has been established with a closed number of 30 participants, of whom only the top 10 will be recruited, in order to maintain the standard that is precisely the Monaco brand. At the basin level, major construction work on the area for 39 stores and parking for 450 vehicles continues unabated. The covered car park has the predisposition for the installation of load columns for the power supply, totally respecting the Monaco “Energy Transition Mission,” which manages a fund to support green initiatives, with grants to help local businesses make the transition to renewable energy sources.

Prince Albert and the first signed energy transition charter in 2017.

“We have yet to establish on how many parking spaces we will go to install the electric column immediately, in any case the answer is yes, the columns for the delivery of the electricity recharge will be an integral part of our covered parking in Cala del Forte.” said the general director of SEPM – Société d’Exploitation des Ports de Monaco – Mr Gian Battista Borea d’​​Olmo. About the port expectations, both in terms of employment and in terms of increasing tourist appeal, the CEO of SPEM estimates about 100 immediate recruitment in the port for the reception staff and the docking staff. “In addition to this, one must think of the surrounding activities that will be generated once the operation of the port assured. In this respect, the most basic example is the daily expenditure of recreational boaters, especially regarding the food supply. According to Censis, however, the maritime pole is the one with the highest income multiplier (3.03): 100 euros of demand for maritime goods or services activates more than 300 euros of expenditure in the entire economic system territory, of course if it is ready to meet the demand.” added Mr Borea d’Olmo. Anyway the total number of jobs should be considered as approximate for now. For example, in addition to those related to the operation of the port, which are confirmed, there will also be 5000 meters of park, so that gardeners and workers to maintain the decorum of the place will be necessary. “However, we must not take into account only the activities that will be born closely in the port, but we must consider the synergies that will be created with the old city, connected by the elevator, and with the rest of the city. Without this synergy with the territory, the port would be only an island in the desert and this is not its goal. The figure that will really count is generated by the links on the territory. The port can really be the turning point.” – said Mr Borea d’Olmo. “Our project includes a private sea link service from Cala del forte to Monaco and vice versa, dedicated to the owners of a boat dock in Cala del forte and the ports of Monaco. This service is currently under study and should be implemented with the opening of the port. The Marina of Cala del forte is owned by the ports of Monaco, therefore the standards of safety and hospitality, as well as the marketing strategies are the same.” concluded Mr Borea d’Olmo.

The general director of SEPM – Société d’Exploitation des Ports de Monaco – Mr Gian Battista Borea d’​​Olmo

In fact, well before the signing of the contract with which SEPM acquired the property of Cala del Forte, a fruitful collaboration with the municipal administration of Ventimiglia took place, as well as the promotion of the territory internationally with the advertising campaigns on the most important nautical magazines in the world, both through intense network activity and on social channels and with participation in boat shows. The periodical planning of Brokers Days inviting the most important super yacht brokerage agencies, professionals, industry reference companies and the international press gave way to the second international project, due to another foreigner entrepreneur who recently landed in Vintimille.

Montecarlotimes has asked Mr Robert Thielen what led him to invest in Vintimille such a considerable capital: “When I ask my children what destinations they prefer when we travel on our yacht, they always name the many jewels of southern Italy, like the Sicilian islands, Capri and Positano. They also love the beautiful Tyrrhenian coast to the Eastern Liguria, where Portofino is one of our favorite stop. I must say that I knew the Western Liguria just by name. Then as I had the opportunity to visit the Vintimille Marina and the historic centre of the medieval village I fell in love with their authentic beauty and I immediately realized the potential of this territory, which is very little developed in terms of commerce. When I became aware of the very important investment of the Principality of Monaco in what will become the port of Cala del Forte, I decided to invest in this area.” Born in 1961, Robert Thielen is the founder of the investment company Waterland, active on four continents and in 20 countries. After studying tax law at the University of San Diego, California and Leiden in the Netherlands, Thielen gained experience as a consultant and manager in global investment groups. Today, he is one of the 500 richest men in the Netherlands and writes for Forbes magazine, providing advice and analysis on economics and finance.

We asked Robert Thielen to tell us e his plans for the city of Vintimille: “I plan to build a luxury hotel, a wellness centre inspired by the Merano in South Tyrol, the construction of shops and restaurants on the west bank of the Vintimille port. I hope that work can begin in six months, and be completed in three years. To become a coveted stop for the rich of the Mediterranean, it is necessary that this border town offer many elegant services and this is what I want to achieve. I have had many meetings with the local authorities, which have been very positive about the presentation of my project.”


Mr Robert Thielen during the Confindustria Conference in Vintimille

To what kind of audience are you looking for?

“For the moment, it will be elite tourism for a simple reason, the lack of space in the central coastal area of ​​Vintimille, which is already being used intensively. That is why we will focus on quality and not on mass tourism in the western coastal part of the port. Of course there will also be a significant impact on the hinterland of this part of the Western Liguria, but that is another issue.” Indeed, after Adolf Angst, Thomas Hanbury, Charles Garnier and Clarence Bicknell contributed to the cultural and economic development of the Western Liguria in the nineteenth century, today foreign investors are interested in this territory, with great will to create. Vintimille has the sanctuary of cetaceans in its sea. Whale watching tours can be organized from the Marina, as is already the case elsewhere. Together with the worldwide famous Hanbury Gardens, a floating dock for mooring small boats, promoting activities at sea such as immersion and snorkeling which are, among other things, respectful activities of the environment will be created.

Vintimille Hanbury Gardens

The Marina has much to offer all around, from the Hambury Gardens to the Roman Theater, the Archaeological Museum, without forgetting Italian gastronomy and wines. The projects will give the opportunity to create new quality services.

The Roman Theatre in Vintimille

Ventimiglia already has a mass tourism, that of the Friday market, which must make the effort to return to a qualified and appealing market.

Apart from the rich foreigners who will land in the port, what is his idea about the exploitation of his project by the inhabitants and what is the average age of the clientele:

“If that’s your worry, there will be no noisy nightclubs, but rather places to regain serenity. Therefore, I think the services will be primarily for families. And they will also be very attractive to everyone: any citizen of Vintimille wondering what to do in an afternoon or on a free evening, will consider the possibility of going to the Spa or in one of the restaurants that will be born in the port “.

And what about employment?

“I foresee the creation of some 2,000 jobs. In the field of taxation, Italian companies will recruit the staff. And thanks to the flat tax I am sure that investing in Italy will become attractive”.

Actually the flat tax has not yet been approved in Italy, but Mr Thielen does not seem to care. At the meeting between Thielen and entrepreneurs from the region, organized by Confindustria last May, the President of the Confindustria of Imperia, Alberto Alberti, was enthusiastic about the presentation of the project and he hopes that the organizations public and private will fully contribute to its realization. In fact the declared intention of the Dutch entrepreneur to involve small local entrepreneurs is very encouraging.

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