* Between The Sea (the Med) and The Alps -- {Pronounce: ontruh la mair eh lay zalp}

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Rock Villages of the Riviera dei Fiori III

Italy III 02As we continued our Italian tour, making our way back from the hills to the coast, we encountered another of the medieval villages dotting the landscape.  This view was taken long distance as seen from Apricale

Its name, Isolabona, means it sits at the confluence of several rivers.  We could tell we were getting back down to sea level, as it was much flatter than all the previous towns had been.

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Doria Castle XI century

There really wasn't that much interesting in this village, or else the whole concept of ancient life had started losing its charm.  I don't find anything wild and wonderful about it online, either.  My particular joy would have been in challenging my photography creativity, but I was working with a non-cooperative camera.  The village does have a pretty name, though. 

As you can see in the overall photo, it maintains some of the original protective castle.  Our world today is just so much bigger than this castle could ever dream of trying to protect.

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Have a XV century drink of cool water
There was one rather fun item of interest.  At the inner main entrance, there was this lovely old fountain from 1486.  It looks so timeless; perhaps modern design isn't necessarily so modern after all.

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Ancient and current

Of course, there was the inevitable steeple, casually visible down a little side street.  I don't know how medieval people dried their laundry, but the modern family in an ancient town juxtapose it with whatever happens to be around.

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From Isolabona to Monte Toraggio
As we left the town, we stopped to admire the view on the bridge over the little river separating the town from the main road.  It's just a typical look, but I imagined that you might enjoy it, too. 

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Silhouettes on the water
We had a little fun with the shadows on the water; aren't we sweet? The Doc says our silhouette looks silly, wet.  

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A hidden corner on the beaten path
Before heading back to more modern civilization, we searched one more time for a fun place to have lunch. 

Finding something wasn't looking very likely until I spotted this disused gate off the side of the road.


As the road wasn't very traveled and we were located around a curve anyway, we actually felt quite isolated.

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That Italy feeling
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Such a pleasant lunch experience
One thing that was fun is that the napkins I just happened to have in our camping supplies had an Italy theme.  I think it's the first time I've actually used them in Italy!

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Look, Kids, a selfie!

We enjoyed this little stopover so much that we actually did the unthinkable and took a selfie!  Yes, the old folks can actually be a bit modern sometimes.

We came across one last town; but not only have we been there before, we've taken some of you there.  We went to a wedding there back when we were still in Paris and had no clue that one day we'd be living almost next door! 

Dolceacqua is a wonderful old town, but my camera would not have done it justice, so we didn't even try.  Perhaps I'll do a post with a compilation of old photos so you can enjoy it as part of this journey.  However, it was a beautiful day, so I took a few current pictures of the setting as a little teaser!

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I saw this wall painting, so I captured the same image of the medieval castle and 15th century bridge.

Apparently, Claude Monet painted it a few times, too.

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Typical balcony

As we had to go through the border town of Ventimiglia to get back home, I took a few coastal pictures just to show you the Italian Riviera itself.  If the town has any charm of its own, I've never found it, and I can't imagine spending any time there.

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Ancient history
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Modern garden

I can't find any reference to this old wall on the hillside, but it's either Roman or medieval!  And this little garden right off the main road was rather delightful.

Having grown up with the massive Santa Monica Beach in California, I'm always surprised at how small the Riviera beaches are.  Often just little coves, this one is fairly large.

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End of summer on the Italian Riviera

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Beach pebbles

I don't know how widespread the pebbles are, they are on the French side, too, and they make it really hard getting out of the water's pull.

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Beach volley ball

I found it rather amusing to observe that the Italians (and the French) have really caught on to the American beach volley ball; they don't even bother to translate it.

While we don't live in such a different environment than we experienced on this little trip, we were in fact in a different country, with a different language and a different culture than we are accustomed to.  One can be familiar with another culture without really understanding much about it.  And while one can maybe read some of the language and figure it out, trying to understand the locals trying to converse is something else all together! 

Although we were barely out of our own backyard, crossing a border made it much more "exotic" than the much longer trip we took to Paris and back.  I was totally lost in any conversation, and I was very happy I'd started out with some meals from home.  Not only did there not seem to be any kind of market or food shops in the various villages (do they all go down to the big towns on the coast for everything?), I don't know what to do with whatever they have that I can't normally get anyway.  While I've enjoyed shopping in typical Italian stores over the years, I guess I didn't know how to handle the minimal store I did come across.  At least we could get juice and yogurt for our breakfast!

Next time we try such an adventure, we really need to find a local guidebook, in English, if such a thing is available, as our all-of-Italy books were not at all detailed enough, and I'm sure we missed a lot of interesting things.  And we need to start off with a larger city with a real grocery store if we want to dine with any Italian experience.  Although, I think one of the Ligurian main culinary contributions (pesto with basil, pine nuts, cheese, olive oil) can now be found in fine stores near you everywhere! 

To add insult to injury, there were so many photos I couldn't take because neither of my camera options would cooperate with the conditions (mostly shadows) I typically found.  However, I came across this person's personal journey who did take many of the photos I would have if I could have, so please check them out if you care to see more of these last two towns.  Their photos really are beautiful and really capture the essence.

(After a little sojourn this coming week as part of a volunteer work team at a camp, I'll be posting more on the towns I promised to share.)

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While it was a fun couple of days, the summer is actually over, we have plenty of obligations we really need to be attending to, so it was actually a welcoming feeling to cross this on our highway towards home.


  1. So proud of you Barb for your blog... you keep yours even more updated than I keep mine now. Well done. Thanks for keeping us posted. I don't read everything. I follow too many blogs to do that, but I do enjoy each picture. Happy week in the mountains =). I'll look forward to the blogging about St. Martin. Bisous, Lindsey

  2. I enjoyed your trip through your pictures and descriptions. And I do remember Dolceacqua - it was fascinating!

  3. You look fabulous and your pictures are so great I figured you'd gotten your camera fixed! Love the beach! Wish I was there as we've been in heat wave conditions for over a week...Ugh! Enjoying your trip with you! Great selfie! Do more of those!


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