Left Grasse and rolled down towards the Med. Skirted north of Cannes and picked up the coast road – cruising through Nice on the Promenade des Anglais. Very much like Southern California – sand, palms, promenaders, joggers cyclists, roller-bladers…many with phones to their ears. But the big difference – apart, of course, from the language on the signs – is that here there are no houses by the ocean, only apartment buildings.
It would have been too stressful and time-consuming to continue weaving through seaside traffic, so we made our way up to the autoroute. Very spectacular – cut through the mountains – all viaducts and tunnels with gorgeous glimpses down to our right of the Med and pretty little villages (although these days the harbors are full of yachts not fishing boats).
Shortly we passed a simple sign – ITALIA – and the riding became more challenging. Italian men feel it is their duty to hold the racing line through bends regardless of what other traffic is doing: lane discipline is for wimps (i.e. foreigners). And how the hell do they make such tiny cars go so fast?
In Italy the steep hillsides are all packed with greenhouses, cloches, small terraced plots and farm ‘cottages’ . Every square inch is intensively farmed – much more so than in France, just a few miles back.
Light showers as we powered past Genoa – an unattractive, industrial/port city when looked down on from the Autostrada.
A half hour later we turned off the motorway and back to the coast – finally arriving in Santa Margherita Ligure. – an attractive middle-class answer to super-chic Portofino a few kilometers further south.
The town’s ‘Spring Festival’ was in full swing on the esplanade – as can be seen from the first two photos above. The band – with accordion, sax etc. – managed to make everything – pop, Italian folk songs, reggae – sound like a polka, but they played and sang with enormous gusto while couples of a certain age strutted their funky stuff on the ‘dance floor’. We were able to resist joining them.
The Villa Anita – a family-run hotel – is awkwardly stranded between Edwardian plushness and cheap modernization, but it’s very comfortable and the Signora (who seems to do nearly everything herself) couldn’t be more helpful.
The 5 of us walked into town (see photo above of Simon by the harbor) and dined on excellent seafood at an oceanside restaurant – although the concept of ‘super-sizing’ is apparently no longer exclusive to McDonalds (see Richard’s dish in photo above).
Nick is recovering from a one-day tummy bug that has moved on to Simon. Nothing too serious.
John is flying into Genoa tomorrow to join us, so we get a day off – time to do laundry and catch up on emails.
Best wishes to you all.