Sunday, 10 January 2016

Italian Riviera

Happy New Year to everyone.
I'm way behind on Blogging, this tour I took was late September/early October last year. Apologies!
The journey to northern Italy was a long one. I travelled down to London the previous day then Sunday we caught the early morning Eurostar to Paris. I was surprised at how quiet Paris was trafficwise as we crossed from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon. Then we saw a sign indicating it was a car free Sunday in Paris. What a difference it made. Next we caught the TGV high speed train to Turin. We spent the night in Turin and I hadn't expected it to be such a lovely city. Beautiful squares, buildings, churches, museums and lovely shops.

I won't describe them all or it will go on forever and this is really just a taste of the tour.

The next few were taken in the Piazza San Carlo.

This photograph is of the Palazzo Madama it was built on the site of gates of the Roman walls at the beginning of the 1st century BC! It houses a large collection of paintings, statues, church ornaments, porcelain, and decorative art, mostly from the late Middle Ages to the 18th Century.


This was one of the staircases to the upper floors, it was so beautiful.

I didn't have much time so I just browsed around on the ground floor where you can see through the glass floor to the Roman foundations. Sorry the photographs are not too clear but I'm just a point & click photographer & the light kept reflecting. It was incredible & so cleverly done.



The photo above was taken in a street of really classy shops on the way up to the Palazzo. This is just one side of the street the road ran up the centre and there was another line of shops on the other side. However I was more amazed by the beautiful pavements than anything in the expensive shops!
 

There are lots of Roman remains here in Turin. The one below is the Palatine Gate and Towers.

Virtually everyone would have loved to stay here longer. Me particularly because the cathedral where the Turin Shroud is housed was closed at 1pm! Ah well a good excuse to go again. The real Shroud was on display earlier this summer, it's not displayed very often nowadays. So I only missed the copy!

Next on to Milan where we changed trains & then on to our base in Sestri Levante a small town in Liguria on the east coast south of Genoa. I loved it. It isn't a beautiful place but it was certainly attractive with a beach on two sides & lots of interesting old buildings, very nice shops, restaurants & cafes. A place I certainly would go back to again, but only if I was on holiday!

                      






The town has two beaches, the photo above was taken at the beach of Baia del Silenzio on one good, late afternoon! Probably the only one we had in Sestri Levante.

We stayed in a really lovely old villa, the 17th Century Villa Balbi which has been converted into a hotel. It retains a lot of the original features but has been modernised to make a really comfortable place to stay.  
    
                         


The pool was lovely but freeeeeezing! That's why there was nobody in it. A couple of did try but I had a headache when I got out it was so cold.

The hotel had its own beach just across the road but most of the time we spent here the weather wasn't really good enough to use it. Typical, Italy in September & they were having far better weather.

This is the beach in front of the hotel. Shame we never got to use it. 

We visited three of the little Cinque Terre, Five Lands, towns one day, Vernazza, Riomaggiore & Manarola. My photographs are not named as they have all burred together now. I should have spent time naming the photographs but I didn't even have time to download them before we went on holiday soon afterwards. However you can get the feel of the places from the pictures. They are very old, witbeautiful churches, located on the coast west of La Spezia but very overcrowded with tourists even at the end of the season early October. 


     






Getting 34 people of various ages & levels of mobility on & off the trains was a nightmare for me. I spent a lot of time wandering up & down the train reminding people that the Italian trains only stop for a couple of minutes & they had to be ready to get off quickly. It worked until the day we went to La Spezia when one old lady just ignored what I said & was left on the train. Not only that she had stopped other people on the tour from getting off. Her son who was supposed to be looking after her was totally unaware & was blithely chatting to other people. Luckily I had the mobile number of one of them so could advise them what to do.


I did like La Spezia despite the stress, probably because it wasn't as crowded as the other places we visited. 





I'll leave it here for now. There's still Pisa, San Fruttuoso & Portofino left!