Monday, February 18, 2008

Notre Petit Voyage en Italie

Early Friday morning we loaded into Armando’s voiture avec remorque vide (car with trailer attached and empty), for our weekend voyage en Italie. The six of us, Armando, Odile, their son Leonardo, Emily, our voisin Olivier, and I were quite comfortable in the Peugeot station wagon. We made our way to Orange and the entrance to the A7 autoroute, traveling at rapid pace past Avignon and Aix-en-Provence where we changed to the A8, proceeding beyond Nice and Monte Carlo on our way to the Italian border. The drive time was estimated at 3 hours, plus a 45-minute stop at the halfway point. We arrived in San Remo mid-day; the weather, sunny and warm, could not have been better!

After checking in for our lodging and checking out the beach that comes with it, we took off on foot through town. What a beautiful place! San Remo is situated on the coast of the Mar Ligure, just 28 km from the French border and the Côte d’Azure. It is a city of about 57,000 people and has been a popular seaside resort since the 18th century. Its reputation as la Cittá dei Fiori, "the City of Flowers" is well deserved, as you can see by the photos I’m including with this post. Everywhere I turned, there were cyclamen and other beautiful flowers in full bloom. Orchids and roses were thriving outdoors, as were oranges and lemons. It was delightful to see the abundance of color thriving mi-février (in the middle of February). Besides flowers and beautiful beaches, the city and region are also very well known for their citrus and very special olive oil.

For the French, special motivations for a weekend trip to San Remo have to include eating and shopping! We found great restaurants on every corner. In the storefront, we saw elegant fashions and incredible leatherworks. Even the open-air market had beautiful fashions and fur coats for sale. Our remorque was empty for a good reason. We were on a mission to fill it with special Italian treats that are expensive and hard to find in France. First on the list were Italian books for Greta, Armando and Odile’s daughter who is heading to university in the fall, with a major in Italian. While Armando sorted out the list of books, we found a great sidewalk café to satisfy our quest for gelato.

After we had our fill of gelato, walking and window-shopping, we enjoyed a relaxing evening and a great authentic Italian dinner with tomato and mozzarella salads, pastas, tasty local wine, cappuccinos and superbe tiramisu. We ended the night with fun, laughter and champagne in celebration of my birthday! More photos and stories tomorrow about San Remo, our purchases and the rest of our weekend…

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