Quote of the day: “The gardens and cathedral are just past the Pizza place. Piazza Castello”
I find little things that Rachael does hilarious, especially when her abundance of intelligence doesn’t grasp language too easy and she doesn’t understand why I’m laughing at her! 😉 Best move on before I get a slap in da nutzz.
We finally have a day off together, a full one, where we can actually go to sleep at the same time. We decided to make the most of it and got out early to catch the train to San Remo, one of the first towns on the Italian Riviera. It was recommended by a friend as somewhere that actually grasps onto authentic Italy, to which it certainly didn’t disappoint. Whether or not it surpasses Eze as our favourite town so far is debatable, however there was no essence of a tourist trap here and this narrow streeted mecca really took us by surprise.
The train journey is what you’d expect from the Riv. Glorious little coastal hotspots, overshadowed by magical mountains. It’s also what you’d expect from French public transport, delays, delays and unfriendly staff. The journey from Ventimiglia, the first point in Italy, to San Remo was somehow different. The views were the same but the people were.. nice! Unbelievable what a change of borders can do to people’s personalities! And it’s no wonder why they are so happy. We wandered through the main street for at least 30 minutes trying to find the tourist information to see their working hours were 3 hours at a time! It is worth noting there is a definite tourist trap, where they don’t tell you to validate your ticket before departure or make it clear where to do it. We even had a problem on the way home where the ticket got stuck in the machine as the machine’s are so confusing to use!
We sat down in what I presume was an Italian cafe, where the predominant food was living up to stereotypical nature, pasta and pizza. I chowed down a carbonara and Rach had some vegetables on a pizza. We’d wasted enough time to get some tourist info and we jetted off up to the gardens at the top. We did have a quick stop at the casino before and although the interior had a majestic, Monte Carlo-esque feel to it, the assortment of slot machines made it feel more Blackpool
Our standard procedure of getting lost occurred, where we became flabbergasted by the size of the watermelons in San Remo. Another fruit based innuendo or a genuine comment? You decide. Either way, we wandered to the right side of the hill, where my lack of spacial awareness came to fruition again, by walking into a bollard, still holding a dead leg today! It was nice to ask for directions and get a warm and vibrant response, unlike France.
This part of the walk is where we started to embrace everything Italy that was on offer. The narrow cobbled streets, the chorus of Ciao’s, the fresh smell of Italian cuisine, it was rather spiffing. The pictures on here don’t do the bugger of justice. And although we came across some restored churches, the restoration jobs on them were beautiful and gave a real sense of holiness. The only disappointing thing were the gardens at the top, near Piazza Castello. I presume it was because we were expecting botanical gardens similar to Eze but all it was was a mini park, although the panoramic was another winner and the shade was really refreshing after the ascent.
San Remo was an absolute romance spot and it was easy to understand how people fall in love with Italy. We finished our day walking around the port and the rest of the parks and gardens near Villa Nobel, which were thoroughly well maintained and the architecture of the villa’s was something unique entirely to what we’ve already seen.
My advice for people travelling to the French Riviera and considering crossing the border, based on what I have seen is:
- Definitely do it. We dropped in to Ventimiglia as well on the way back and there is an authenticity in Italy that tourism has taken away from areas in France.
- The Italians appear infinitely more friendly and welcoming and appreciate any slip of Italian lingo into the conversation.
- Food! Being a big foody, I love to sample all cuisine and the relatively cheap, cafe styled restaurant still provided a better carbonara than most would do in England!
- Be Careful! Firstly, the public transport thing was a definite con. Secondly though, we were advised to keep our bags close to us by a local, presumably due to pickpockets being in the city.
And that’s a wrap. Looking forward to exploring more of this wonderful country.