Archive | 4:17 AM

Liguria

17 Oct

The Italian Riviera, or Italy’s Liguria region, is a crescent-shaped strip of Mediterranean coastline straddling between the south of France and Tuscany.

Map from The Guardian

Unlike many who prefer the Cinque Terre, we headed west from Genoa to the less crowded villages along the Ligurian Sea. During the 19th century, these coastal towns were heavily populated by the British seeking moderate winter months. Today, the Brits seemed to have moved elsewhere, and the beautiful towns are less crowded, less hectic and more relaxing than many seaside “touristy” towns.

That said, these towns are not the easiest to reach. The average trip from Cortona includes three to four trains, and seven to eight hours. To shorten our departure, we spent the first night in Firenze, and then took an early morning train the next day.

Having an afternoon and evening in Firenze was lovely. We first headed over to Piazza Republicca, a place that holds happy memories for us. In 1997, we celebrated my parents 50th anniversary here. (Their room was the one with the beautiful balcony.)

As usual, a musician was playing, and this time he was an extremely talented classical and jazz violinist.

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We stopped for prosecco at Caffè Paszkowski, one of our favorite places in the piazza, and a good place from which to hear the musician.

©Caffè Paszkowski Website

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I have always believed that the best way to experience a town is to spend the night, and our stay in Firenze confirmed that once again. Take for example the Florence Cathedral, formally the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. Begun in 1296 in the Gothic style, it was structurally completed by 1436, with the dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. In the evening, minus the large crowds, you can actually see the buildings from bottom to top.

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The next morning, after only two trains and 4.5 hours, we reached our destination.

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Two years ago, we were introduced to Liguria by friends Daniela and Massimo. This time, on our own, we chose Alassio as our base to celebrate our October anniversary. We were on vacation and the view from our balcony didn’t disappoint.

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Alassio is a town on the western coast of Liguria, approximately 80 kilometres or 50 miles from the French border. It is known for its natural beauty and scenic views along the sea, and for good reason. The sandy beaches go on forever,

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and walking and bike riding are easy along manicured stone paths that reach from town to town.

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The town centre, or Budello, just off the beachfront, is filled with bars, shops, cafès and restaurants.

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Len quickly made a friend during our first lunch at the beach,

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who persistently pecked at Len’s leg when the peanuts were gone!

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The second day, we walked to the next town, Laigueglia, enjoying the sea breezes and taking in the colorful sights.

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When we passed this villa high on a hill, I couldn’t help but wonder –when was it built, who had lived there, what had happened to them, why did they desert her?

Scenes like this, and the mesmerizing sounds of the sea, could surely be a writer’s inspiration.

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Before heading back to Alassio, we considered walking the 50 miles to France, ok, just kidding, but  local buses and trains do run between the towns and the border.

Speaking of writers, in the early 1950’s, Ernest Hemingway was a frequent visitor to Alassio, then an international jet-set location. One of Hemingway’s favorite spots was the famous Caffè Roma.  These photos are from their menu.

And this is the caffè today.

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As the story goes, Mario Berrino, one of the founders of the caffè, loved to show customers all the famous autographs and dedications he had collected over the years. As Hemingway was signing the guest book, Berrino shared with him his idea. He wanted to put each signature on a ceramic tile and create a colorful wall for all to enjoy. Hemingway was in total agreement. To avoid  bureaucratic obstacles, Berrino and a few friends put up the first three tiles, including Hemingway’s, early one morning. After no one complained, they added a few more. Apparently, the mayor liked the idea and turned a blind eye. Today, there are about 550 tiles that make up the Muretto di Alassio.

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In Alassio, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from, offering a variety of dishes including pizza, pasta and seafood. And some even have music. Daniela suggested we head to Mezzaluna, one of her favorites, and we soon learned why. These guys had the house rockin’

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while the patrons enjoyed local dishes.

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We were fortunate to have perfect fall weather, warm sunny days and cool clear night. Sunsets were filled with painted skies

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followed by radiant moon glow.

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And when darkness set in, the pier and the paths were always well lit.

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Not to be outdone, however, was the constantly changing view from our balcony, this one before sunrise. With the temperate weather, we were able to leave our terrace doors open and fall asleep to the repetitive sound of the waves lapping against the shore.

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A few hours later, the sun was glistening on the sea. It was time for our next walk.

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With such beautiful scenery, it seemed to me a good idea to leave something personal behind, if only temporarily.

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And while my footprints have surely washed away, what will last forever are the great memories we have as we think about our time in Alassio.

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As I wrote when this blog began, 

Judy and Len
too young to be old 
and to old to be young
but just the right age to be 
traveling, exploring and sharing
our adventures.

May we continue to continue.

Happy Anniversary, Len, ti amo!

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Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

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