Photo: View from Italy looking back to France

Who loves Italy? Yes, that is just about everyone, I think!  The food, Ice Cream, Coffee, wine and the fabulous people together with perfect weather and beautiful sea views and countryside make it just about perfect.  Enjoy a day out in Liguria.

It is a wonderful day out to drive along the coast of Liguria from the french border town of Menton to San Remo.  I suggest you take your passport as border control is stricter these days.

First stop, if you like gardens is Hanbury Gardens

Photo:  Hanbury Gardens

Hanbury Gardens, Corso Monte Carlo 43, 18039 Ventimiglia, Italy http://giardinihanbury.com

Beautiful Botanical gardens established by Sir Thomas Hanbury, now owned by the Italian State and managed by the University of Genoa.  This is a magical place to walk through the fabulous gardens, I always find inspiration for my own Mediterranean garden.

VENTIMIGLIA

PHOTO: Ventimiglia old town

Continue along the coast road until you come to Ventimiglia.  This is not the prettiest town but the the Old town pictured above is worth a visit.  I like the little seaside restaurants, particularly those in the old town. Find time for a delicious cup of Italian coffee, visit the daily food market where you will find every Italian delicacy possible.

Daily food and fish Market in the Market Hall.  A lot of french people like to shop in Italy because it is so much cheaper than France.  You will see so many shops selling alcohol and Spirits.  Main market day is Friday.

Pinnable Photo:

BORDIGHERA

Continue along the coast road for a few kilometres and you will come to Bordighera, a seaside town with great seaside restaurants and lovely shops!  You will notice that everything is cheaper in Italy than over the border on the french Riviera!

I would recommend you wait until Italy to shop.  Great shoes, chic clothes and low prices!

PHOTO:  Lunch in Bordighera

A fish based lunch in Bordighera is a delicious treat!  However, don’t forget the shop opening hours in Italy.  All the shops close between 12.30 and 3.30 or 4.00pm.

If you don’t have a car, the Italian coast is easily accessible by train from France with trains twice an hour that sop all along the coast.

SAN REMO

PHOTO: SAN REMO

Final destination is San Remo, main market days are Tuesday and Saturday here but again, the Food Market Hall opens every day except Sunday and is well worth a visit.  My favourite delicatessen is in the square before the market.

PHOTO: This is where I buy my Parmesan Cheese

Again, you are spoiled for choice with little family owned restaurants by the sea.  The fish could not be fresher.  One of my favourite treats is lobster and spaghetti and a bottle of Italian Rose, perfect!

There are so many really good shops here.  Choose from the well known names such as Max Mara or explore tiny boutiques with original designs.

PHOTO:  Old Town San Remo

Explore the tiny streets of the old town and discover so many little shops selling absolutely everything!

PHOTO: Shopping in San Remo

PHOTO: SAN REMO PORT

The seafront is full of little cafes and restaurants.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2428-3Ventimiglia Italy

Go to Italy!

A visit to the markets of Liguria, Italy is a very popular activity especially for food lovers and bargain hunters.  Ventimiglia is just a short train ride from France and people flock over the border on market days, particularly on Friday when hundreds of stalls have something for everyone.  My friends and I love going to Italy – as soon as you leave the french border and (some of, most are nice)  grumpy french people behind you will find a happy, smiling and friendly Italian!  I know, I know it is a huge generalisation but it is TRUE!

Well pop over the border to Italy for some happy people!

The change in the temperament of the people is quite unbelievable!The Italian joie de vivre is infectious and you will soon be smiling too!  Loud and gregarious but quite mad behind a steering wheel, so take care on the roads.  They can be very excitable too and are not as keen on dogs as the french, which is annoying for my pooches Freddie and Zarya .  Although in general the dogs are welcome everywhere they are not doted on quite as much as in France.

I’m not keen on market tat and fake handbags but I do love to buy all my fruit vegetables, pasta Parmegiano cheese and all sorts of delicious foodie delights.  If you go to Ventimiglia there are some wonderful little seafood restaurants for lunch right on the beach.  Turn right before the river and drive into the lovely old town and you have 3 good seaside restaurants by the beach.

San Remo, Italy

I prefer the market in San Remo.  The town is much prettier with beautiful gardens and little restaurants along the seafront.  My favourite food shops are here too!  I go to the Tuesday market.  Catch a train or drive from France.

PicMonkey Collage-2My favourite deli in San Remo – you can’t miss it near the market

There are many plant growers in this part of Italy too and I buy some fabulous things for the garden.

italy-2San Remo town centre flower stall and food stall at the indoor market

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Old town in San Remo

You will love all the little clothes shops in San Remo and rummaging around in the old town before indulging in a delicious real Italian food lunch at any of the countless family run restaurants.  My favourite market day lunch is lobster spaghetti – yum!

And now over to my collaborators Paolo and Amalia, who are a little further south in Genoa, a wonderful city and if you are there make sure not to miss the red and white museums.  They are Italian and so can give us a real Italian perspective, which is great. Hang around the World:

italiano
The markets are really interesting places where you can learn about different aspects of the city, such as: traditions, history and the smells of the city but also everyday life. It is an opportunity to get inside the city and meld with it.
Every city has its own market and Italy is full of typical markets but today we’re going to know one in particular… Mercato Orientale located in Genova.
The market is in via XX Settembre and it is housed in a large and historic structure. Entering you can already immerse yourself in the flavors and in the smells of the city, thanks to the various street food stalls that sell typical products of the city.
We tasted the delicious pinolate (almonds and pine nut cookies). Continuing the tour you can find fruit and vegetable stalls. Looking through these, we knew the preboggion a mixture of wild herbs typical of Ligurian cuisine. There are also stalls with a wide assortment of meat and fish from the Ligurian sea (such as: triglia di scoglio, orate, acciughe, pesce spada… ). We also have spotted a bakery and a fresh pasta stall that had a really inviting look. Then we had a break in a cafè always inside the market.
After this we continued our tour and we headed to a colorful exposition of plants and flowers of all kinds. Continuing in that direction we came across other stalls that sold clothing, housewares, footwear and there was also a costume jewelry store. Finished our tour we can say that we have found lots of cordiality (in fact we chatted with a sweet old lady who was at the fruit stall with us and she has revealed that what is not in the market, doesn’t exist that means that there you can find everything you need) and also organization and cheapness of the products.
If you were there we hope we have made you relive those moments, if you haven’t been there you just have to visit it and watch the market with your own eyes.
We hope you enjoyed this tour in the Genova market and we hope that it has been helpful. Bye and a big kiss to everyone – Hang Around The World

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My guest blogger today is the beautiful Frances, otherwise known as TheBlondeCitizen.  I love reading her blog and Instagram page full of fabulous pictures of her life in Florence, you must take a look and be instantly captivated!  Francis lives in Florence, Italy.  http://www.theblondecitizenblog.com

Frances is writing about her recent trip to Tuscany, which looks idyllic don’t you think?

Hotel Torre Di Cala Piccola, Province of Grosseto, Italy

This Hotel is nestled in the hills of Porto Santo Stefano, Monte Argentario, Grosseto in Tuscany.  It has incredible views from most of the rooms as well as offering gorgeous suites and deluxe rooms with balconies which are worth the extra cost for the photographs alone!

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View from Hotel Torre Di Cala Piccola

The breakfast is typically Italian; cakes, brioche, lots of Nutella …standard and delicious.  However, some of their pricing is rather off; 8 euros for a Fanta or Coca Cola seems a bit extreme to me.  I have a funny feeling you are paying a lot for the views but they are worth it.  As seen i the photographs, the panoramic views whilst eating your meal is a superb way to enjoy the day and offer a memorable romantic setting for families and couple alike.
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The hotel itself is immaculately and beautifully presented; soft cream furnishings and very welcoming staff who speak very good english.  If you have animals, they also accept small dogs for a fee of 10 euros a day in which you will be provided with a ‘pooch pack’ consisting of paper bags, bowls and wet mats.  I didn’t take my little Chihuahua this time as I went there for romance, not to wipe my child’s backside, nevertheless when I return there in September I shall bring him along.

Hotel Beach Club

They have a wonderful ‘beach club’ with spa services and whatever you do, do not lose those access card; they charge 30 euros a piece if you don’t have them upon checking out!  With that aside, they offer massages, hairdressing services, waxing, nails, you name it, they do it.

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IMG_6874Spectacular views

If you are staying longer than a few days, then I suggest you allow the hotel to organise any excursions to the Argentario and Maremma regions.  They can put together wine and food tasting, schedule visits to some of the most prestigious wine cellars in the area as well as set up any visits to the archaeological sites of the Etruscans; an ancient civilisation and form of figurative art produced by the Etruscans in central Italy between the 9th and 2nd centuries BC.

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They offer a complimentary bus service from the hotel, down the winding roads to Coletta; rocky beach as I call it, however please remember that even though there is a schedule, this is Italy; they take their time and therefore it isn’t the most reliable of services.  The key word to enjoying Italy is ‘patience’.  It is 27 euros a day which includes two deck chairs and an umbrella.

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The water is absolutely freezing, and I’m from Scotland however you soon get used to it; with rock jumping, kayaking, canoeing available, or if you just wish to relax and tan, this well known place is a must see.  Get there early in order to pick the best spot as this is a public place and not solely for hotel guests.  They also have a restaurant which serves great calamari and fish dishes at reasonable prices, as well as a fully stocked bar; handy for parents in my experience.

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Most people who eat here are visiting from the surrounding villas and definitely attracts a particularly high-brow crowd.  Gentlemen pack the chinos and loafers, ladies this is the place to imitate Elisabeth Taylor; wearing rubies and diamonds just to lounge by the pool would not be seen as crass here.  How fabulous!

Overall, this hotel and even the journey there and back, offers numerous opportunities to fall in love or rekindle even the dimmest of flames.  It is breathtaking and worth every penny just to escape the grand city walls.

For more travel, events and where to, how to blogs check out http://www.TheBlondeCitizen.com                    or follow my journey via Twitter @blondecblog, Instagram blondecitizenblog or Facebook theblondecitizenblog

Bio: “Read the blogs from a well-travelled financier turned writer for the ‘Florence is You!’ Newspaper and now, hopeless romantic; with a recent move to Florence; kitchen sink, dog ‘n all, come follow me around as I navigate through the cobbled streets and tapered trees of Italy on a quest for cultural enrichment, grand romantic gestures and good shoes; whilst building a global brand ….no pressure”

Information:

Hotel Torre Di Cala, Province of Grosseto tel. +39 0564 825111 http://www.hoteldicalapiccola.com

http://www.grosseto-info.com http://www.welcometuscany.it