Sunday, 19 June 2011

Ligurian Coast

Hi from Clare,                                                                           Sunday 19th June 2001

When last I wrote we were heading into Santa Margherita to meet up with Bronwyn Adamson who was driving down from Cannes in France to see us.

                   Andrew, Bronwyn & Clare                                 Ornately painted city buildings

We last saw Bronwyn 3 years ago and so there was a lot to catch up on. We had lunch in town and chatted for a few hours. After lunch she spent some time on Eye Candy talking boats and Engineering stuff with Andrew. Chris and Heather went for a walk and left us to it. They found a free concert for that night so after Bronwyn left we enjoyed listening to a father and son playing classical guitar. They played very well and spoke intimately to the audience in Italian – we were lost.
The town of Santa Margherita is at the base of hill and the houses overlooking the town are nestled in a leafy green hillside with many lovely trees and flowering shrubs. It is truly amazing the number of stairs and walkways that have been built over the years to connect all these houses to the towns situated at the waters edge. Even with a map in hand we managed to take the wrong track or climb the wrong set of stairs. We eventually found our way over the hillside to the next bay and the town of Rapallo for lunch. Feeling quite virtuous after our hike, we returned to Santa Margherita via the coast which is flat and much quicker.

The town of Santa Margherita has the spectacular “Basilica di Santa Margherita” at the centre of the town. Built in 1658 it is lavishly decorated inside and has many valuable paintings. It is one of the most beautiful churches we have seen in the Med. The town is neat and clean but probably the feature that makes it stand out from other Italian towns is the highly colored and ornately painted city buildings. Some of the brick work is painted in 3D and it is so realistic that you can’t help but touch the building to confirm that it is indeed only paint.


               High above Santa Margherita                              Coastal walk to Portofino

The following day we enjoyed walking 5 kilometers to Portofino. The first three kilometers were along the coast and the last two were over the hill via the state forest. This was a lovely shady walk and took us around the back of Portofino giving us a terrific view of all the expensive houses and a spectacular panoramic view of the bay. Potofino is quite small and very expensive. The prices of clothes are in the hundreds (instead of tens) and a humble Cappuccino is 7 Euros. This came as a bit of a shock as we had been paying as little as 1 Euro in the surrounding towns. We decided a beer at 5 Euro was a better proposition – good thinking!

                       Portofino housing                                                     Portofino Harbour

We had  a 70 miles trip to San Remo and decided to leave at midnight to take advantage of a window of opportunity before the wind would change and be on our nose. We had the motor on firstly and then a light wind kicked in. Heather being very eager “made” us put the spinnaker up but that only lasted half an hour before the engine was back on and we motored sailed the rest of the way arriving mid afternoon.

                     Modern San Remo                                                High above San Remo

San Remo is a very interesting place. Some parts of the city are very modern with fashionable shops and restaurants.  It also has had a huge undercover fresh food market with local delicacies – I just had to buy some.  The traffic is thick with cars and scooters that stop at pedestrian crossings only after you make a leap of faith and step out in front of them.
Conversely the old part of the city high on the hill and is nearly deserted. There are endless narrow steep streets and it seems even steeper stairways. We walked to the top of the hill and visited the church “Madonna della Costa” of San Remo built in 1651.  It never ceases to amaze me how much money has been lavished on the local place of worship.  There was an old lady sitting at the back of the church who accosted everyone as they came through the door to ensure they were dressed appropriately and didn’t use a flash camera.  After a genuflection a few signs of the cross Heather and I were allowed in – the boys opted to stay outside.

             San Remo Old Town (steps)                                      Coffee break after our climb

SO WHAT NEXT We are now at Saint Jean Cap Ferrat in France but more on that in our next newsletter. Chris and Heather are due to leave tomorrow and head to Rome for a flight back to Australia.  We will probably stay here for a few more days before heading west along the French Riviera.

Love CANDY xx.