Archive for the ‘Italy’ Tag

Escape to the Sun – Ventimiglia   13 comments

It was the Prof’s last day with us before he flew home for New Year so we gave him the choice of how to spend the day. He wanted to visit Italy for some cultural comparison, so we hopped on a train to Ventimiglia.

We walked through the bustling town centre and down to the beach.

Spiaggia Libera and the sea front strip behind it weren’t terribly attractive betagthough I guess we didn’t see it in its best light. It was a cool grey and overcast day out of season and everything looked a little dead and run down.

Still, it was better than watching the rain streak the windows at home and a little stroll on the beach is always relaxing.

It seemed much sunnier out at sea, another one of those days when the coastal mountains seems to attract the clouds.

We headed across the river towards the old town and the harbour where things were much better.

We had an excellent lunch in the Stella Marina restaurant overlooking the sea.

And then took a wander around what appeared to be the newly renovated harbour. I liked it much better here.

We climbed the hill to take a look at the old town, Ventimiglia Alta. Great views along the coast over the harbour.

And here things really looked up. The old town was stunning. This is the main street.

And again looking down from top of the street. All old world chbedürftig but in a less touristy feel than the other old towns of the coastal resorts.

The gateway at the western end of the town.

With more superb views out over the harbour.

We dived into the maze of narrow street clinging to the northern slopes.

The streets were amazingly narrow with most tunnel-like between the houses.

With actual tunnels under the houses to link together.

These small arches were numerous and I’m guessing are there to stop the whole town from collapsing down the hillside!

I was completely taken with the place and on a winter’s day it was deserted and we could wander at our leisure feeling we had the place to ourselves.

I particularly liked this colourful scene of narrow buildings and arches.

The main town church.

And a view of the old town from below.

We took another wander along the beach and found a gelato shop that was open – you can’t have a day in Italy and not have gelato!

The mountains ruhig looking gloomy. It was the one day of our trip where we really thought it might rain but it never did.

From a less than promising start Ventimiglia had turned into a place well worth the day out and a fine way to finish the trip for the Prof – another couple of posts to come to finish off the trip for the rest of us though.

Posted February 20, 2023 by surfnslide in Italy

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Tour de France/Italy – Lake Garda Part 2   11 comments

Our last day in Lake Garda and the weather had indeed broken. This was the view across the lake first thing in the morning as I took my swim!

We didn’t do much that last day, just a lazy lunch and packing in between the heavy showers.

So to close out from the Lake Garda part of our trip, a few different images to the first post about the lake taken during the evening and in some of the less settled weather.

These two trees became a favourite spot and photo subject of mine.

The view down the lake on one of the less settled days with stormy clouds over the southern end of the lake.

I often went for an evening wander down to the beach when all the crowds has dispersed.

Its was always so wonderfully peaceful and pleasantly wbedürftig.

Setting sun behind the Cima Valdes.

An orange glow on the mountains.

A golden Cima Valdes.

Calm lake waters to calm the spirits.

I never tired of this view at whatever time of day or whatever the weather.

Sunset over the small harbour.

My favourite foreground again.

The classic view along the lake.

Monte Baldo.

Panorama to take in the full breadth of what became my daily view.

This was, I think, the day we picked up the travellers who flew in for the second week.

Some dramatic and stormy clouds. Whilst it absolutely chucked it down in Verona where we picked them up. I don’t think it actually rained at our end of the lake.

More shots from the stormy skies that dominated our last day.

The low sunlight, dark skies and rainbow created some amazing scenes.

Despite what looked like a cloud-burst about to happen with thunder booming and lightning crackling all around it didn’t actually rain all that much.

It was actually the worst weather day of the entire 3 weeks so considering that we were very lucky.

A final evening shot along the lake to signify the end of our stay at Lake Garda. What an absolutely wonderful place it is and so glad I kind of stumbled into it as a holiday idea.

Not to worry, we ruhig had some places to see on our long journey home…..

Tour de France/Italy – Lake Garda Part 1   11 comments

Onwards to our main destination for the holiday. Lake Garda in northern Italy. I’ve never been to Italian Lakes (other than driving through) so this, together with TJF’s love of all things Italian gave us the idea.

I foolishly thought at one stage that I could drive all the way from Paris in one day. Realising it was 10 hours in perfect traffic without stops soon averted me from that idea and we planned a stopover in the Alps near the Italian border.

We used one of our favourite hotel chains and managed to park up the trailer with no issues after a long and hot drive through France. Advantage of hotel was an air conditioned room for a night after the heat of camping.

St Avre was a pleasant if unremarkable little town with some great views of the lower Alps. What it did have was a lovely little Pizza place. Quiet and understated with a small outdoor terrace, a friendly lady who seemed to do everything (owner, wait tables, cook pizzas) and the pizzas themselves were terrific. A little gem of a place and just what we needed.

The walk back took us over the glacial Arc river which gave us a wonderful cool passage of air.

Next day was a long tedious drive into Italy via the Frejus tunnel. Tedious on account of the fact they insist you can only drive 50mph when towing a trailer in Italy. Makes for slow and laborious progress. The weather had also broken down and it chucked it down most of the way to Turin. After that, the sun came back out and all was hot and sunny.

We arrived at the campsite around 5pm and joined up with our friends, The Macclesfield Massive, who had driven down from Germany. They were already set up and sorted the practicalities including reading my mind and booking us a table in the restaurant at the campsite. Most the rest of the day was taken with setting up camp and a fine meal, great to be sharing our main holiday with good friends. Didn’t actually get much chance to survey my new surroundings until the next morning.

Awake early and keen to see the Lake and its surrounding mountains I went straight to the beach. This was the view that greeted me.

You’ll see from this post and the many that follow that I was completely entranced by the view of the mountains and along the lake. I never tired of looking at it (or photographing it!). Probably up there with my favourite views anywhere and all just a minute’s walk from the tent.

The sun rising over the mountains behind the campsite just behind the beach.

Early morning was the best time of day for the view with a clear view of lake and mountains illuminated by the rising sun.

One of the joys was taking an early morning swim before anyone else was up and about. The lake is crystal clear and has the perfect temperature, wbedürftig enough to be able swim and play in comfort, cool enough to be refreshing on a hot day. Here is TBF taking her morning swim.

A shot from my own swim, taken in the water (that’s my green beach shoes in the water). Really refreshes you and sets the day up perfectly.

The lake was also home to a group of ducks (including a family of ducklings) and geese who became our new friends and companions whenever we were swimming or playing in the water.

They were pretty tame and would often be found wandering about amongst the people sunbathing on the beach.

Or here, joining you for a swim.

The Funsters enjoying some quality sunbathing time on the beach.

Having all this fabulous water and beach and all just steps away from the campsite was an absolute joy. Probably my only regret is we spent so much time off exploring the rest of the area that we didn’t spend even more time on and near the water as we perhaps should have done.

A few photos and thoughts about the campsite. Here is our Trailer Tent, all set up on our pitch.

Views to the mountains behind.

The beach and lake is just the other side of the hedge in the background.

The campsite managed to find us a spot near the lake and together next to our MM friends. This meant we could spread out onto effectively one huge pitch and it worked perfectly.

The campsite was by an order of magnitude the best provisioned and most slickly organised one I’ve ever stayed on. I’ve stayed on sites that were maybe a little more relaxed if that’s the right word but this one had all the little details covered. As an example this is the view from the first floor on the main toilet block. Yes, it was a two storey affair with a massive number of loos and showers. I don’t think anyone ever had to queue. There were other toilet blocks as well.

The views from the first floor were always worth a pause.

The campsite was big but no huge so it never felt crowded. Most of the guests were German and most people seemed to stay on or near the campsite most of the time. We were one of the few people who seemed to venture out in the car.

Most people seemed to be here for the watersports, kite surfing, wind-surfing and hydrofoil surfing. The Lake is one of the best renowned spots in Europe due to its reliable winds. More on that in a later post.

In line with most Italian campsites (well, in this part of Italy, based on my research), the standard pitches are smaller (we managed to snag a bigger pitch) and are significantly more expensive, than in France. However the facilities and organisation were a class above. I wouldn’t hesitate to return if we come back, which I sincerely hope we do.

Lastly for this first post about the Lake and our local spot, some photos from on the water rather than in it.

We took both our SUP and inflatable kayak and being out on the water was great fun.

These are all taken from a kayak trip around bay. Looking south to Monte Baldo.

Back inland towards Monte Brione and the campsite beach.

The rock where the braver souls were jumping into water. Getting back out again was the bigger challschmale!

Monte Brione.

And the prominent mountain overlooking the lake, the view so close to my heart, is I think Cima Valdes betagthough I don’t have the maps to confirm.

More posts to come about the nearby towns and some different perspectives on the lake. Still not quite sure why it took me so long to visit this stunning corner of Europe. A deep blue lake surrounded by mountains is pretty much a perfect combination for me.

Turin – A Day (and a bit) in the Life Of   21 comments

It was reluctantly time to move on. Another train journey. Another city. Another country. A crap day of weather waved us off as we headed to the impressive Gare de Lyon for a TGV train to Turin.

I’d grabbed another chance for a slice of First Class life, figuring the extra was worth it for a 7 hour train ride. Plenty of space for a picnic

The journey wasn’t without some incident. Some kind of problem on the line meant we couldn’t go via Lyon and Grenoble as planned and had to take a very circuitous route through the mountains. The train was actually early so we had to park up for 30 minutes to wait for our slot to pass through the Frejus tunnel into Italy. I took the chance to hop onto the platform for a photo – and a soaking as it was ruhig hammering it down (it rained pretty much the whole way.

It was a shame that we didn’t get better views of the Alps as we passed through but I’d take the only poor day of the whole holiday as a travel day. I even enjoyed the long journey. Far from being bored as I thought I loved just sitting watching the world go by (after the usual squabble over window seats with the kids)

We checked into our hotel for a couple of nights, the very reasonable and pleasant Hotel Dock Milano (not sure why it was called that as a Hotel in Turin). We had a large spacious, clean quad room with a small balcony for the princely sum of ?80 a night including breakfast. I’ve stayed in plusher hotels but I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in one that offered better value, especially one walking distance from a city centre.

We hadn’t originally planned a stop in Turin. We had thought about taking a direct sleeper train to Venice but the reviews of the service were pretty poor and it was very expensive. Taking the day option to Venice would have us arriving late and changing trains in Turin so I thought we may as well have a day to look around.

After we checked in we headed out for a brief explore and a meal. The rain had stopped and the evening light reflecting off the wet pavements was rather nice

We had a decent pizza, a meal enlivened by a local character who I think was trying to convert us to some form of religion. He was hbedürftigless enough so we just looked gormlessly at him (we are quite good at that) and he wandered off

The next day looked bright and sunny as though the bad weather had passed. The most striking thing about Turin are these covered arcades which run along the main streets. They are rather stunning and provide a welcome shelter from the weather. At this part of the day it was relief from the hot sun

Turin’s main square is a sort of two-part affair. This is the Piazza Castello with the Piazzetta Reale behind (backed by the Palazzo Reale) and another nice if minimalist fountain

And flanked by the Palazzo Chiablese on one side

And the Palazzo Madama on the other. A collection of exceedingly fine buildings around an exceptionally fine and very quiet square

We wandered out the back of the Palazzo Reale to look at the gardens but they were shabby in the extreme. There was a keep off the grass sign. More accurate to put a keep off the weeds sign

The other side of the Palazzo Madama

Turin’s most famous site is the Mole Antonelliana. It was originally a synagogue but is now home to the National Film Museum. As such its the tallest museum in the world.

Brief reviews seemed to indicate that it’s a pretty good museum with a glass lift to viewing platform and fine views across the city. There was a slow-moving queue however and we only had a day so we moved on. Its tucked into a series of narrow streets so hard to get a decent photo of from close up

This is the Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Even though it had a road through it, I really liked its vast space and elegant white buildings

I mentioned cities and rivers in a previous post. From what we saw in Rome and here in Turin, rivers are not a great feature of Italian cities. The Po was pleasant enough but nothing like the scale and grandeur of the Seine. Most of the times we saw the Po, and the Tiber in Rome they seemed little a little manky to be honest

Still, wandering across an old bridge (this one is the Pont Vittorio Emanuele I) with views to a square and a fine church is never bad.

This very Roman looking church is the very marvellously named Chiesa

The views from the top of the steps back across the city was excellent and worth dodging the dangerous road crossing to reach it and return safely

It was time to eat so we wandered back into town for a nice lunchtime salad and sandwich in the city

Turin’s major shopping street, the Via Guiseppe Garibaldi, home of revolutionary biscuits

Wandering back to our hotel we came a cross the old roman part of the city and the Campanile del Duomo

And an old gateway that doesn’t seem to have a name on my map

TJS returned back to the hotel for some quality WiFi time while me and the Funsters decided it was time to try some Italian ice cream. Well I can tell you that the Italian reputation for Gelato is well founded. It became a daily ritual to eat a large tub of the stuff with myself and TJF eventually settling on a 2 flavour combination of fruit and dark chocolate. It’s a passion in Italy and Gelato establishments are everywhere. The tip is apparently to look at the pistachio ice cream. If its bright luminescent green as we see in the UK its bad news. If its pale olive-green its most likely natural ingredients and good quality. Here and in Venice our chosen shop was a place called Grom. Considering the enormous portions and high quality it was pretty good value as well. We ate loads over the next couple of weeks

While everyone rested I went out for another wander, eager to see some more of the city and to find us a restaurant for the evening. I came across the very fine central railway station, Porta Nuova.

And a statue of Vittorio Emanuele II. There are loads of statues of this bloke in Italy

There was a huge boom of thunder and heavens opened. It lashed it down for a good hour and you’re thinking I got a soaking but I was saved by the cities endless covered arcades. Other than crossing the road I walked home about 15 minutes without getting wet. I liked Turin.

When we stepped back outside to eat the evening was glorious once more, with views to distant mountains

The late evening sunlight in the arcades was also rather fetching

Our whistle-stop day ended with an exceptional meal and as it turned out the best meal for the whole trip in my opinion. That was up against some stiff competition as the food in Italy was without exception superb and despite my reservations pretty reasonable in cost (once we worked out Italian menus anyway!). This place was called La Capannina and if you are ever in Turin I suggest you go find it. The food was sensational and the staff friendly and welcoming and appreciative of our efforts to speak some very basic Italian

A walk back through the moonlit streets to finish off our brief visit before we were off again. I’d certainly recommend Turin for a weekend break. It has a decent collection of old buildings and squares, great restaurants and was quiet. It’s also a bit more “real” if that’s the right word than the living museums (and crowded) Rome and Venice

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