Having passed through Nice, Cannes and Genoa on our way to Comogli on the Ligurian coast we were not sure what to expect from this massively built up region of the Italian coast. But boy was it a pleasant surprise. Our Hotel was right on the water above a black pebble beach with restaurants and vibrancy all around. We dined on the terrace restaurant with a stunning sunset view and that set the tone for three fabulous days ahead.
We took a day trip by ferry to Portofino and wandered its fascinating streets, parks and harbour and enjoyed the rich and famous vibe for the afternoon before heading back to Comogli. We had a great meal at La Mariera and then wandered around the town some more before getting our obligatory Gelato.
We visited the Harbour and checked out the Cathedral and the old castle and then had a lovely swim at our pebble beach .
We even scored a fabulous concert by the sea at Piazza Colomboone night called “Tropical Tango- dance and music ” by the Hypertronics with Flemenco dancers and these guys took salsa to another level especially their version of Roxanne. Dinner was at Don Ricardo which was mostly mexican food and really nice
THE CINQUE TERRA:
We caught the train to the Cinque Terra for a four night stay at Hotel Porta Rocca in Monterosso la mare which is the Northern most of the five Villages. The taxi took us past the two beaches and up the cliff face to the hotel. We ate at the hotel that night which was fine and then had a wander around the town. We discovered the best Gamberetti ( prawn ) Pasta at trattoria Oscar in the old town and enjoyed the beaches and food of the town.
Seeing all the towns including the hilltop Manarola is well worth it and as the train goes to all the transport options of sea and land are great.
We took two day trips to the other 4 villages and went by boat there and train back which was so easy ( make sure you validate your tickets in the machines for your train tickets) we did the Lovers walk from the southern most town of Riomaggiore to Manarola which was the most level section. And as it was so stinking hot our ventures out on other walks were limited other than John’s 500m step walk in 40deg heat that nearly killed him from Monterosso to Vernazza .
This is such a fabulous region of Italy and so easy to get from Village to Village and beach to beach which we enjoyed as often as we could.
After four fabulous days we headed off to Pisa to switch trains to Lucca in Tuscany and we made our train on time and arrived in the stunning walled town of Lucca.
being the birthplace of Puccini his statue sits outside our apartment hotel.
the Chiesa Di san Michele is a fascinating structure that has a richly decorated facade and very austere sides so all show out front where the money was spent. the Angle on the apex is slightly out of proportion with the other decoration but sends a message all the same.
Lucca was a real suprise with its formidable walls still intact after never being breached until Napoleon with his over whelming force gave an ultimatum that enabled the town to carry on as usual so long as his sister was crowned Queen. No problem said the Luccanise who liked the idea of a queen and everyone got on with business as usual just with a new head of state. The original streets and squares have some of the best people watching spots and the evening Passagetta is a delight to witness as are the aperitivo snacks during happy hour.
We stayed at the Hotel Piccola Puccini right in the centre of town which was so easy to get around this pint sized city which is fully enclosed with a formidable set of defences.
there are plenty of beautiful Villas or mini Palazzo’s all over town and we were able to visit the fabulous Palazzo Pfanner was a fully intact 17th century palazzo and gardens of a very rich merchant. there is an even more opulent palazzo that has been turned into a museum called the aptly named palazzo Museo Di Manci.
One of the endearing images of Lucca is the tree topped Torre Guinigi which has a number of Holm Oaks growing on the top. There are fabulous views from the top and it is only one of a few remaining towers that were built in the 14th century as a symbol of wealth and power.
We finnished off this fabulous trip in Eastbourne England as we saw it as a safe haven after the London terrorist attacks and spent 3 days exploring the district between eastbourne and Brighton.
The Brighton Railway station was a masterpiece of Victorian Era Steel engineering and the Arts & Crafts period design.
The Royal Palace at Brighton was a fascinating folly that Prince Bertie created for his pleasure far from his mothers prying eyes and he made it as exotic as he could blending all the empires architectural styles into one.
Flying home First class for a change