Archive | September, 2017

In Love with Liguria

27 Sep

(hopefully reprinted with full photo views)

Liguria, a four-province region in northwest Italy, lies on the Ligurian sea.



It is bordered by France to the west, Piedmont to the north, and Emilia-Romana and Tuscany to the east.

Due to its breathtaking coastline, Liguria is also known as the Italian Riveria, as this narrow strip of land lies between the Mediterranean, the Alps and the Apennine mountains.



While parts of Liguria have familiar names – Cinque Terre, Portofino, and Sanremo, others are much less known.

Liguria is the original source of pesto, and it is easy to understand when driving through some of the towns. Basil is grown in an abundance throughout the year.

Trenette is a traditional form of regional pasta served with pesto alla genovese, which can also include potatoes and green beans boiled in the same water.



We had never been to Liguria before last week, and now it is one of our favorite places. Town after town graces the Mediterranean, yet each has its own identity. We visited several with friends, one of whom calls Liguria home.

After a literal 2-hour complete shut down of the autostrada near Arezzo, and a 5+ hour drive, we were happy to finally arrive in Loano. My first sight of the sea, albeit cloudy, brought a smile to my face.

Then off to join Daniela’s family who welcomed us with warm hugs and hot soup.



The next day, we walked along the sea and took in the views from Loano and Verezzi. The photos tell the story best.







After a beautiful morning of sightseeing, we enjoyed a Tuscan lunch, complete with chianina beef, sausage, and Sangiovese brought from Cortona. And yes, there was even a large collection of pet turtles to entertain us!

Now, one would think this lunch would suffice for the day, but hey, this is Italy, so later that evening, we headed out for seafood, a major staple of Ligurian cuisine, as well as Lumassina, a local white wine.

After dinner, we visited a dear friend’s shop to purchase some fresh pesto.

Wednesday was Monaco/Monte Carlo day, about 60 miles from Loano. I had visited both when I was a student in Rome, and while the sights remain beautiful, today the tourists and cars are dense.

On the way back to Italy, we stopped for what turned out to be a rather “rude” lunch in Menton, along the French border, so we were happy to join Italian cousins for dinner later that night.



Thursday was my very favorite day. We headed to Alassio, a neighboring Ligurian town, for a most relaxed morning of boating and swimming.



Up next, a moto ride for me around the harbor before a delicious seafood lunch.

Afterward, we strolled through colorful Alassio and learned some of its history.

In the early 1950s, Alassio was a capital of international highlife along the Riveria. The owner of Caffè Roma came up with the idea to create a wall with the autographs he had collected of famous people that came to the bar, including Ernest Hemingway. Hence, the Muretto di Alassio was born and now boasts about 550 tiles.

After our walk, we drove to the top of the cliff to visit Santa Croce Church and take in the marvelous views of the sea and Isola Gallinara.

Now just in case you’re concerned we might not be able to handle this lifestyle, we found our motto early on…



Our last night was a “typical small Italian family” gathering for pizza. 



It was hard to leave this beautiful part of Italy, but we know we’ll return. To ease our “sorrow”, we stopped in Portofino for lunch on the way home. 



Len and I began planning our trip to Liguria a year ago. It ended up being so much more than we had ever expected – the natural beauty, the sea, the people, the food, the colors, and most of all, the incredible hospitality shown to us. 

And now since it is Wednesday, I can finally say:

Buon Compleanno, Dani. Tantissimi Auguri cara amica!


Grazie per una vacanza che ricorderemo sempre!
Thank you for a holiday we will always remember!






The Garbage Caper

5 Sep

Let me begin with this: I’m guilty.

Cortona has gone to great lengths to set out a garbage collection schedule – specific bag colors for various items and specific collection days. Every homeowner pays for this service and we abide by the rules.


Tuesday is a recyclable plastic day, so this morning we put our small yellow plastic bag on our door stoop. It is usually picked up in the morning, but when we returned after lunch, it was still there. Occasionally ours is missed as we are higher up the street and around a bit of a curve, but I noticed there were still many yellow bags in front of our nearest neighbor about 20 steps below.

Thinking I would save the garbage collectors from climbing up the hill, I added our small bag to the neighbors’ stoop. Theirs is a complex with several units, thus more yellow bags. Little did I know the garbage guards were on duty!

About two hours later, I imagine after they had conferred and devised my punishment, I heard a bang outside our door. What I found was a large red broken plastic bowl with a 5 gallon empty plastic container inside. Thinking this strange, I looked down the street and saw a man standing in front of the complex gate. 

“What is this?” I asked in Italian. “I don’t want your garbage,” I said nicely but firmly. He sort of shrugged and feigned ignorance, so I looked up the hill and asked some kids who did this. They pointed and said “They did!”

Apparently, after “dropping” this on our doorstep, the feisty elderly ladies, yes those with the socks around their ankles who hang out kitchen windows, hurried inside their gate, leaving the man alone to cover for them. One of them emerged and said, “It’s yours!” I answered that it was not, and then she said as she produced my small yellow bag, “Well, this is!”

Yes it is, I acknowledged, and explained that I was merely trying to save the garbage collectors a few steps. (It’s not as if empty water bottles smell!)

As for their reaction, I do think the garbage patrol was a bit surprised at my Italian. Chalk one up for studying! But as my Mom would always say, “No good deed goes unpunished.” And so the story goes.

Looking down at their entrance, I could see that their bags had been picked up but that they had actually kept mine so it would not. I put it back on my stoop.



As I returned to my door, I gave a thumbs up to the kids up the hill. They smiled and nodded. 

Moral of the story, when you travel, remember to not only mind your Ps and Qs, but be sure you are aware of the garbage rules!






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