Thursday, October 03, 2013

A Day Trip to Italy

The old town of Ventimiglia.  Italy really is very colorful.
Nice is very close to Italy.  In fact, it used to be a part of Italy, until it was attached to France in the 1860's after some war or other where France came out the victor.  There is still a lot of Italian influence to be seen in the architecture, the colors and even the language.  Ciao! is a common greeting you hear on the street.  The city has more Italian tourists, judging by what we hear walking around, than all others.
Looks like a spectacular staircase with marble rails, but in reality only the very top at the landing is marble, the rest are painted

We decided to take the train to Ventimiglia on a Friday.  The town is famous for it's huge market, old town built on the top of hill, and botanical garden.  We visited two of the three, missing the garden.
Waiting for the train in Nice.  The station is just a short walk from our apartment.
The station in Ventimiglia.  We visited it several times because it had restrooms.
The train takes about 45 minutes to get there, stopping at every station along the way.  One item of interest; the station in Monaco is underground, so the noise and disruption stays underground.  The tunnel that accomplishes this is in the process of being rebuilt starting in October until March, so the train schedules will be disrupted as parts are closed.

One of the carved stones from the church. The church was here before Christianity.
Reminded us of carvings in Ireland, then we found out the area was originally settled by Laugurian Celts.
Ventimiglia is a very colorful town.  Even the parts which are extremely old, are brightly painted.  The town has been here since well before the Romans.  Several of the carvings in the church were pre-Roman with a very Celtic look; knots, circles and intertwined branches.

Even the boats on the beach are colorful.
Leaving the station, we walked down the street towards the river and the market.  The market is big.  Everything is for sale: cashmere sweaters, shoes, handbags, leather goods, food, linens, knock off designer goods.  We walked through it all and only purchased a camera bag for Bill's gift camera from Bruce; a whopping 3 euros!  There were some folks there who obviously came to shop and left with armloads of treasures.

The streets are narrow with supports between buildings.
Up, up, up!  The old town is on top of a hill.
The walk to the old town took us across the bridge, then up, up, up, up the hill.  Old Ventimiglia is a rabbit warren of paths, with an occasional small courtyard or an even larger square.  The houses were stacked one on top of the other, some up to 5 stories high.  There have been concrete "arms" added between buildings to keep them from leaning into one another.  The folks we met while walking around were friendly, with welcoming smiles, even though we were tramping through their neighborhood.  There was an occasional little store tucked into a building, without a sign, but the door was open.  We also found a pizza place, a bar, a real estate office and two pharmacies!
Pasta, get your pasta!
No dull black handbags here!
It was a bit warm for fur coats, and yes, they were real furs.

Decorative expresso makers, an Italian necessity.
We headed down the hill to find lunch.  We picked a pizza place, which doesn't serve pizza at lunch.  How very odd.  We each had the pasta carbonara and shared a tomato salad and pitcher of wine.  On the way back to the station, we bought gelato for dessert.  I do believe it is against the law to visit Italy and not have a gelato!
There were more types of Italian hard cheese then I ever knew existed.
This cheese seller was cutting a full round into fourths.  A customer wished to buy a fourth of the round, about 15 kilos at 16.90 each kilo.

Ciao Italy!  We hope to visit you again some day, and this time for longer!

The biggest jar of Nutella we have ever seen, 5 Kilos for only 33.50!

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