Category Archives: travel tales from faraway

I’m really proud of these little stories. One day there’ll be more ūüôā

Sori seems to be the hardest word

There are some nights you just don’t want to end. You’ve been there¬†‚Ķ¬†the stars all¬†line up¬†‚Ķ it’s balmy and you’re outside ‚Ķ everyone is in excellent form¬†‚Ķ the food is good¬†‚Ķ¬†there’s wine¬†‚Ķ there’s conversation ‚Ķ there might be dancing ‚Ķ and slowly the night wraps its arms around you¬†with such warmth and contentment ‚Ķ you just want to stay there forever.

Our friends Louise and Paolo texted yesterday and said they’d been under the bridge and up the hill in Recco for the 10/10 focaccia col¬†formagio and had taken a walk into the hills above Portofino.

And her thoughts turned to Liguria.

Of welcomes and lunches and fresh buffalo mozzarella …

fresh buffalo mozzarella

Of home cooked pasta and vineyards, of family and summer colour…

all the good things

Of feeling safe in the company of old friends …

safe

Of laughter and coffee, too many morning pastries at the ‘office’ ¬†and the day to day nonsense that comes with living with these boys of ours¬†‚Ķ

so much fun

Of an Italian¬†sidewalk showdown with an unsuspecting¬†‘orange bastard’. “You want a piece of me!!”

another orange bastard

And a final drive on a final night, into the high hills of Liguria at sunset, the car a little quieter than usual.

liguria at sunset

About 15kms east of Genova (just before Recco) take a left towards¬†Sori and follow the road to the Chiesa di Sant’ Apollinare, perched on high above the Italian Riviera.¬†It’s yet another of Louise and Paolo’s special¬†places.

chiesa di sant'apollinare sori

That’s Punta Chiappa out on the point beyond Camogli ‚Ķ and Portofino is tucked around the corner on the far side of the headland. But here, the cicadas are in full voice and the olive trees are taking a breather after the heat of the day. And us, well we’re just drinking in the moment ..

chiesa di sant'apollinare sori

To dinner… vai vai vai (go go go) !  A short drive inland to the next ridge, to the Trattoria da Armando in San Bartolomeo. Park the car. Up a hidden path. Another place we would never find on our own.

walking-to-Trattoria da Armando

But before we step into the restaurant, we hear music. We’re curious. Another stroll a little further up the hill¬†and we step into a Saturday night street¬†party, cooked by the locals, common at this time in many villages. How can you not fall in love with Italy!¬†(¬†20 seconds hurriedly caught on the iPhone)

Back to da Armando. Local specialities. Local ingredients. Local traditions. I’ve learnt that the Genovese don’t care what their food looks like. It’s all about the taste.

trattoria-da-armando-soritrattoria-da-armando-sori

Lingering …

A special favour asked …

“Paolo would you drive us to Portofino? Steve’s never seen it at nighttime?”

Draw it out ‚Ķ draw the night out ‚Ķ don’t¬†break the spell.

portafino boats

A spell that was first cast on a boat in Split … and wove its way around the islands of Croatia, through the bicycled streets of Padova, the oak forests of Piedmonte and the turquoise waters and steep hillsides of Liguria.

portofino

Yes indeed ‚Ķ. there are some nights you just don’t want to end …

Thankyou Harrie and Vicky for having us on the boat. Thankyou Sue whose friendship led the way. To Paolo and Louise … nobody knows Liguria like you guys Рmolto molto grazie once again.

To anyone thinking of visiting this part of the world this is where you’ll find them. Louise is originally from Sydney but has lived in Italy for over 30 years…

Forest View Bed and Breakfast, about half an hour north of Genova.

And now, it’s back to reality. ¬†So hope you enjoyed the ride¬†xxxx

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Final Borgo ‚Äď a little finale before the final finale

We’d had a quick swim along the coast, just¬†west of Genova, and then Paolo¬†turned inland. “I have something special planned for you today.” So we¬†drove through Finale Ligure (a modern city that hugs the coast road) and started climbing and winding towards the old city, to Final Borgo, perched high on a defensive hill overlooking its newer version¬†and the Med in the distance.

We were heading to the Osteria del Castel Gavone.

But it was a Monday.

And it was closed.

osteria-del-castel-gavone, final borgo

Until they decided to open it.

For us.

For us … alone.

 

They call him Sweet Talkin’¬†Paolo”¬†ūüôā

 

osteria-del-castel-gavone, final borgo interior

So we settled ourselves in the primo position on their astounding little terrace.

With a 180 degree view that looks¬†north towards a deep gorge and its¬†eclectic¬†castles…

osteria-del-castel-gavone, final borgo terrace

East to the valley and villas below …

view from osteria-del-castel-gavone, final borgo

And south to Finale Ligure and a turquoise horizon.

terrace osteria-del-castel-gavone, final borgo

All without leaving our seats.

view from osteria-del-castel-gavone, final borgo

And given it was a Monday and they weren’t prepared and we’d caught them unawares, well they just threw together what they had on hand. And it was splendid. What look like chips are actually panisse, a local dish made from chick pea flour and water. I’ve tried David Lebovitz’s recipe at home and it worked a treat.

meal

Andrea and Catia. Molto molto grazie. Your generosity was one of the highlights of our visit to Liguria and for me, one of the highlights of the whole trip away. Such a beautiful, beautiful setting. Soooo beautiful!¬†And with a church right opposite we found ourselves once again saying “Maddy could get married here! Or Darce!” ūüôā

andrea and catia

osteria-del-castel-gavone-watercolour

There is a famous walk you can do in Final Borgo. It’s called The Ring.

Paolo¬†knew¬†there was a path from the restaurant so the boys took the lead …

the boys lead the way

And¬†despite there being little evidence¬†of any path, we followed their¬†path …

the girls follow

Until we found the real path.

finding the path

Which eventually became a bigger path that took us past another castle …

walking down to the historic village of final borgo

walking the ring final borgo

And into the heart of the old city.

final borgo

final borgo

It’s a solid walk on a hot day but a spectacular way to finish an especially special day.

walking the ring final borgo

Final Borgo ‚Ķ add it to your Ligurian wish list ūüôā

….

I have one more tale from Liguria to share and I have to apologise for how absent¬†I’ve been here at the blog¬†but we’ve had Darcy sitting his final school exams and Madeleine¬†in her final semester of fashion design at uni. It’s been a pretty tense collision course over the past few months, perhaps more for their mother than for them. I’m sure they would beg to differ ūüėȬ† But just know that I’ve missed our conversations and as a new chapter opens not just for them, but for us, I’m hoping to be back here more often. Exciting times ahead me thinks. Hope you’ll stick around. Lotsa love. ¬†xx

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‘Today we go to France!’

Every day Paolo is up at 5 am checking the weather.

‘Today we go to France!’ he declares¬†one morning. ‘The weather in France iz good today.’

Ok. If we must … we shall go to France.

Roquebrune Cap Martin

Just across the Italian border on the French Riviera¬†you can park your¬†car at Cap Martin and there’s a walk that takes you around the point towards Monaco.

cap-martin-looking east to Menton

There were signs saying¬†“No swimming off the rocks” but we couldn’t find any that said “No skinny dipping.”

Ever discreet.

cap martin walk

A nice little private bathing pavilion ‚Äď if you have a spare gazillion.

cap martin beach shack

Mansions aplenty on our right all along the path¬†‚Ästhidden behind lush, dense gardens¬†‚Ästbut the rocky coastline, its turquoise¬†nooks and the¬†Bay of Roquebrune with Monaco in the distance was the¬†big drawcard.

cap martin walk

looking across to monaco

cap martin walk

monaco yacht and swimmers

Some lunch, an Aussie swim (that is, getting your hair wet and swimming out past the poseurs), a quick train hop back to Cap Martin, a couple of cheap last minute rooms on booking.com, a freshen up and a drive into the Provencal hinterland.

We were hoping to get to St Paul de Vence but the Var River blocked our path and rather than detouring miles to cross it, we found ourselves wandering instead in a little hilltop village called Aspremont.

aspremont doorway

aspremont

Lots of purples. My kind of town.

aspremont

Zen had had a long hot day, the most well traveled dog of any I know.

aspremont and zen

aspremont village

A winding run back into Nice where we had possibly the worst meal of the trip.

‘This ‚Ķ izz¬†shiiiit.¬† I’m sorrrry but thizzz ‚Ķ thizzz izz survival food. ¬†Tomorrow we go back to Italy!”

Ok. If we must … tomorrow we go back to Italy.

ūüėČ

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