During our journey I collected some views which I found very typical of Italy. Please tell me what’s your favorite or which one you feel is quintessentially Italian.
On our way back we drove through Switzerland and had some stunning views of the Alps.
On our way back to Germany we didn’t wanted an overnight stay in Switzerland, because of the costs. So we looked for a hotel and stopped just next to the border in a picturesque village named Castello Cabaglio. Our home for this one night was a real palazzo (Palazzo Ronchelli) from the 17th century, majestic and labyrinthine at the same time.
In the morning I took a long walk through the nearby forest with Pavlov and found something special for
A Walk in the Forest
Mario, The Saddler
Already on my way to the forest I crossed this small workshop, not far from the church, and was fascinated from the old machines. When I came back, I couldn’t resist entering, looking at the products and chatting to the owner. Mario once lived in Berlin and shared his flat with anarchists. Today he produces traditional handmade leather goods. The long, adjustable dog leash I discovered, wasn’t cheap, but it was (and still is) so beautiful, that I had to buy it.
That’s the thing with fine artisanal things you buy in your holidays: Everytime you use them, you remember stories of how you found them and to whom you talked to. I’m very glad to have met Mario Fenu and I’m also glad – in this case – to not have let win my inner economist.
We chose a very easy route to Monte Grande, the highest mountain in the area, and we have been flashed by the vast views over Liguria just to the Mediterranean. Pavlov disappeared for a moment and my heart stopped when I saw him playing with butterflies on a mountain top two kilometers away. Fortunately he came back immediately when I whistled.
There are some places in the world you don’t look for but you get there anyway. I don’t know why, but there is this feeling of belonging somehow. Montalto Ligure is just one of those tiny wild villages placed on a mountain top in the Mediteranian Alps.
In Glori we saw a big building far away in the mountains and we asked what this is. We thought it would be a monastery or something similar. Someone told us, this would just be another village. But it would be very hard to get there and only two habitants would still live there. Both more than 90 years old.
San Bernado Di Conio
There is a road leading to this mountain village which is recommended only in the months May to November. In this complicated surroundings, in 1944, during WW2, the Nazis chased members of the Italian Resistance. Every September the people of san Bernado die Conio celebrate their heroes.
In San Bernado, a small chapel nearby, under thick layers of paint, drawings from the Middle Ages where found.
We needed to go shopping and see a vet and so we went to the next bigger town which was Arma di Taggia. I wanted to dip my toe into the sea and was sure that Pavlov would have some fun too. A lot of English and Dutch people hang around in the sun next to the sea and some of them even swam.
When we took a walk through the old town center we came to the Piazza in front of the big church and a lot of elder Ladies sat there chatting. I asked if this would be the “la Piazza delle Donne” (the women’s space) and got “le Donne ANCIANI!” for an answer (the ELDER women space). Happy that some traditions stay forever.
We haven’t planned to hike a big distance that day, we just wanted a small walk near the village. So we looked at the map and chose a path downhill next to a small river. In the middle of our way we met an English guy in canvas shoes who told us to go further downhill because it will get still more beautiful.
Surprise, because we found the most enchanting waterfall there and we were even able to have a quite chilly bath. A small paradise for us and of course for Pavlov.
From Montalto Ligure, a short steep hike uphill, through the aromatic woods and the bees you’ll find this marvelous place: Madonna di Aquasanta – Madonna of the holy water. It is told that in the 15th century the Madonna appeared to an old lame man an told d him to take a bath in a nearby fountain. He was immediately healed from his handicap.
Today the people from the surrounding villages come to pray, to take water from the fountain and to ask the Madonna for favors. Their offerings, mostly rosaries in all colors and forms, transform the hill next to the chapel with the tiny, white statue of the Madonna in a magical place where it is good to stay, think about the world and listen to the sounds of nature.
One of those villages which was build in the Late Middle Ages in the Valle Argentina where the alleys are steep and close and live seams to have stopped all watches and calendars. We had many breakfasts in the central bar with sensational coffee and snacks.
Buying Olive Oil in Badalucco
We wanted to buy olive oil from the region and so we stopped at a sign on a private house. I knocked and heard a slightly shivering voice from the inside “Sto arrivando!”. After waiting for an unfamiliar long time, the door opened and a very old lady appeared in the frame. I asked if she would sell olive oil, she said yes and invited us in. The room was a mixture between restaurant and living room, a bar, sofas, family pictures and certificates on the wall, paired with heads of a wild boars. I made the mistake to ask her, if we could try the oil before buying, she nodded and went to the kitchen to cut some bread, which was visibly a hard task for her and took quite a while. While trying, she ordered us to take more from the oil, with such little amounts we wouldn’t have the real taste. After that, we would have bought everything for nearly every possible price just out of guilt. Thank god the oil was very good and just a slightly expensive :-).
A lot of history becomes visible in places like Verona. I was quite surprised, because I have never bothered to inform myself before we went there. At the same time I was shocked about the amount of people we saw. At the balcony where Julia met Romeo for example, there was a line of at least 400 people. It would never come to my mind to line up for it. I was glad we booked our hotel outside the city, so we didn’t have to deal with that a lot.
For our dinner, we found one of those magical places to eat: The Antica Osteria al Duomo (via Duomo 7/a, 045 8004506). You’ll see the pictures below and will understand why I say that. In general I really love old Italian cities at night. There is something quite enchanting about the atmosphere.
Verona By Night
… was really exceptional. But I have completely forgotten the name and were it was.