Monday, June 11, 2012

The Italian Riviera


It was touch and go whether we would actually make it to the Italian Riviera, the weather reports were not good, Italy is not as dog friendly as France, so Crusoe would not be able to accompany us, plus he was suffering from a leg injury due to over exuberance incited by tortoises and of course there was the earthquake, in the end Belle Mere announced she would be delighted to look after her favourite dog, so we could go for three nights.  I was over the moon, I am an Italiafile and am quite happy to support Italy by spending my money there which due to the earthquakes and the current economic situation will now be needed more than ever.

As the weather was not great we took the auto route, I don't think there is anything more exciting than crossing a border and the drive between the French and Italian Riviera is stunning even on a cloud covered, damp motorway.  As you can see from the above photograph, the foothills of the Alps literally come down and meet all the small towns and villages on the Ligurian coast, on the day we went the clouds and dark skies were clinging to the hills, but the sun was there in the east, trying it's best to come out, it was really rather beautiful, the Italian side seems more verdant than the French side.  MG and I were intrigued by the vast and abundant greenhouses littered on the terraced foothills, we wondered what they grew.  Tomatoes? Olives? What? Well the name of the highway gives it away, "Route de Fiori" Route of flowers, what a lovely name for a motorway and those flowers are exported all over the world.  On the return drive, off the motorway taking the slow coastal road, the colour and size of the flowers were amazing, Bougainvillea and Geraniums, the vibrancy of which I have never witnessed before. Beautiful.

On the left is a diving board...not for the faint hearted!

We drove straight to Genoa our base for three days, the next day we headed off for adventure concentrating on the area east of Genoa, heading to Nervi, Comoglia, Portofino and the Cinque Terre. I had read about this amazing walk in Nervi known as 'Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi' I was not disappointed even though it was another overcast day the sun once again was trying it's hardest to come out, it was beautiful. This is where the locals come to promenade, jog, excercise their dogs, walk off those long, large Italian Sunday lunches or just to meet up for a chat. It's a two kilometre walk, with plenty of viewing points, benches, cafes and restaurants along the way.  The time to really experience it is on a clear day at sunset.

When I was a child I read a series of books, it was Enid Blyton's Malory Towers, the books were set in an all girls boarding school in Cornwall, she wrote about a swimming pool, on the Cornish rocks, filled naturally by seawater, when I saw this pool on the Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi, I could not believe it, this was the pool I had imagined as a child from those books.

Steps leading down to the sea, now closed to the public!

Slightly blurry shots from the car whilst whizzing to our lunch destination, Portofino


When I owned a flat in England it was written into the deeds that it was not permitted to hang clean laundry from the building or near the windows or anywhere where it would be visible to passers by.  It was also a grade II listed building which meant I could not have a tumble dryer as no extractors/vents were allowed on the buildings façade, so I had to make do with the clothes horse balanced onto the bath edges or dangle assorted things over the radiators, which made things crunchy not to mention adding to the humidity levels inside my flat.  Thankfully the Italians do not suffer from Anglo Saxon sensitivities, clean laundry dangling from buildings is part of the landscape, the above picture was taken in Portofino, surely one of the most chi chi resorts on the Mediterranean and if it does not bother them it certainly does not bother me!

We never made it as far as the Cinque Terre (Next Time), the atmosphere of Portofino got us, we wandered round and then chose a restaurant for lunch, we sat there all afternoon having eaten a wonderful lunch and sank two bottles of iced Pinot Noir.

Not sure what the pink Mere Cats were about but I loved them anyway

Back at base in the Genoan hotel, a beautiful, classic, five star Italian Hotel, with the friendliest and most helpful staff, we got the most amazing deal.  I got somewhat carried away by the bar area, especially the coffee machine, it's not surprising Italian coffee tastes so good when it comes out of machines designed like this...

The Bar in our Hotel

Wonderful, classic Italian design...

Apologies, just had to take it in black and white too...


Genoa, city of contrasts, not as popular or as touristy as perhaps Florence, Rome and Venice it's historical Bete Noire.  Genoa is a city of great charm and a little grittiness a feature of all great port towns, think Marseilles. Narrow streets in the oldest part then broad streets from it's magnificent Genoese heyday, housing great Palazzos, Cathedrals, Churches, cloistered shopping areas with all the usual suspects; Gucci, Prada etc. and astonishing buildings which today house art galleries and museums. (Mostly closed on Sundays and Mondays!). Loved it and can't wait to go back for longer.

Three handsome gentlemen were having a sneaky cigarette by this window, I clocked them, and waved, they waved back, smiling and laughing, then I pointed my camera at them and two of them ran away!

We had lunch here, a small unassuming restaurant in the heart of Genoa, I thought I could cook Pasta and make Pasta sauces, after eating here, I now know, I know nothing.

Oh Bacchus how I worship thee!

San Remo

Finally the drive back, on the coast road to France, stopped off in San Remo for lunch, the final Italian Pizza before re-entering France!  It certainly lived up to it's expectations. San Remo was lovely, better than I expected, a bit like Cannes but somehow more authentic, fabulous shops! And a great atmosphere.

 The restaurant we had lunch in, was trendy but nice trendy...if you know what I mean, they serve lunch until 3pm.

Oh Italy, I love you so much, planning and plotting ways to get back as soon as possible.


  1. Next time back in Europe Genoa must must must be squeezed in...

  2. Wonderful places. Charming photos. Thank you, Dash!

  3. Well this was fun. What a great trip. Thank you for taking us along, Dash!I have never seen any of these places. I guess I will add them to my list next time I pick Nice as my homebase. After all, it would not take that long to drive east, would it? Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  4. Looking at your photos always make me wistful for Europe.

  5. Really enjoyed your photos, thanks so much for sharing the beauty!

  6. Hello Dash

    You covered a lot in a few days. Your pictures and observations are marvelous and describe your experience so beautifully.
    I has been 30 yrs since we visited this area and a return trip is definitely in order. Like you, I love Italy

    Helen xx

  7. Talk about a feast for the senses!! Colour, colour, colour, and so many glorious details. How I love that green door. And thinking about that diving board, it would take a brave soul indeed to step upon it and gently leave its safety!

  8. What a trip down memory lane.....less than 2 years ago we were there at each of these amazingly beautiful is hard to pick a favorite, but who has to!!!! I love Genoa, and long to return one day....I simply adore the 'color' of Italy.

  9. Wonderful post Dash love a road trip and especially to Italy fun fun fun.
    Simply beautiful ocean pool!
    Carla x

  10. You take superb photographs - what skill, what an eye for the telling detail, such clever composition. I shall probably not get to visit these places, but thanks to you I am able to enjoy them.

    Thank you

  11. Oh la, there is way, way, way too much to respond to here!!! I don't even know where to begin other than beg you with all of my heart: "Next time, take me with you!!!!"...I love all of it, the color, the details, the warmth even on a cloudy day...You have made me fascinated by Genoa as well as the more famous counterparts. Ah, Italy...

    And yes, the Bacchus comment made me laugh!

  12. There is something so Continental about laundry hanging outside of buildings. It is quite colorful and romantic. Our home in Suffolk was also 500 years old, but fortunately had a washer and dryer. We shared our back garden was hidden from the street so I could hang sheets on the line.
    I love that your found your pool. I can almost imagine your excitement at discovery.

  13. I's #1 on my bucket list! What wonderful photos. Next time I want to stowaway in your luggage! thanks for sharing.

  14. Dash-I especially enjoyed this post, as my grandmother's parents were from the Genoa area. My grandmother spent a summer there when she was 10. So neat to see the places she described to our family. Thank you for sharing.

  15. What fantastic photos, Dash! It looks absolutely divine. Not been to Italy for YEARS and now have a hankering to go!

    Ali x

  16. Oh how marvelous - just what I needed on this rainy miserable day here!! My sister lived in Liguria for several years - just south of where you ended. I visited her on several occasions and just ADORE this area!! And the food!! I much prefer it to the heavier Tuscan fare. If you plan to go back let me know and I will get the name of the most amazing restaurant we went to - south of Portofino but north of the Cinque Terre - one of the best meals I've ever had! Thank you for the lovely visit!

  17. What a wonderful journey around the Italian Riviera. Thankyou. I love your blog, it is so classy and informative. I came to you via Geraldgee (now so sadly departed). He had a wonderful eye for colour too. Sheila x

  18. Hello, and thank you for some lovely photographs.
    I believe that the greenhouses are mainly for basil plants (pesto invented in Genoa) and also for flowers, which are generally shipped abroad.

  19. Hi Dash,
    Loved this post so I linked you today on my Friday blog love especially for my Italifiles like your lovely self
    Have a great weekend
    Carla x
    here is link

  20. super, love love love
    found you via carla loves photography

  21. I am Rosanna from GENOA; I met you through Carla's blog and I am friend to Linda who commented on this post.
    THANK YOU ! thank you for this lovely post on the place I love most : my own gritty, grouchy, beautigul town.
    If you are ever to come back, please,calland I'll be glad to tour you in new amazing hidden places.

  22. myalbertine@blogspot.comJune 15, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    Fantastic post Dash, I got your blog via Carla Coulson.I just love Italy, you might like to view my Italian photos on my blog.

  23. Pure gorgeousness! Loving all the photos, especially those water views--makes me feel like I'm right there. So glad I found you through Carla's blog!

    xo Mary Jo

  24. So gorgeous - thank you for sharing! I'm so happy I came across your blog, now following.


  25. Italy. To me, the most beautiful places on our Earth are in Italy. This is a beautiful post, Dash, I enjoyed every single image. I've been to all the places you mention & once spent 2 weeks in Arenzano, which is just down the coast from was glorious. Makes me want to reprise my "Amalfi Coast" post from a couple of years ago. xx's

  26. Wow! Dash...this is fabulous!!!
    Jeanne xx

  27. The Bacchus picture and comment.. LOVE it!! Love the pictures. Italy is full with beautiful objects to capture. The next time you're planning a trip to Italy again, try Sicily. It's like being in a different world. Nothing is in order, but I find that amusing (unless I have to live there).


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