09 April 2010

Saying Goodbye- Paris

The Seine was beautiful and the sun was shining on our last day
in Paris and last day in France altogether.

The little island in the middle is a longtime favorite for picnics and sunny days.

The bustling street alongside the Seine is lined with bird, dog, and plant stores, and the noises and smells of chirping canaries and budding flowers are unmistakable.

The church at Les Invalides rises over the surrounding buildings.

Church at day and night.

Our first très important stop before leaving- one of our all-time favorites-
Place des Vosges, home to the Victor Hugo museum. Imagine this as your view
when you pull back your curtains in the morning!

Our next stop was Père Lachaise, the largest cemetery within the city limits and home
to the graves of the likes of Edith Piaf, Isadora Duncan and Balzac.

The cemetery is on a hill, with stone paths leading you like a maze past grave after grave,
some teeming with flowers and other cracked and forgotten. Tourists come from all around,
but also Parisians come just to take an afternoon stroll in the quiet, slightly haunting,
but stunningly beautiful atmosphere.

The last few photos are from the Luxembourg gardens, one of the best in Paris.
It is a place to congregate with friends, walk hand in hand, read, relax, play tennis and
watch the giddy children sailing their tiny sailboats on the pond.

What a perfect sendoff from a lovely little corner of the world.
Merci beaucoup et a bientôt.

04 April 2010

Traso In The Mountains

Like most good, great, wonderful things, our time in Italy is coming to a close.
The little mountain village where we have been staying is called Traso, just outside of Genoa.
It is tucked up along a rather steep slope, with a terrific view of the valley and villages below.

All of the houses in Traso must follow a very strict color code of pastels,
and the shutters can only be painted either green or brown.
Some may find it frustrating, but it creates an aesthetically cohesive feel to the area.

HANNAH this one is for you. I know we'd been looking for property in France,
but this building is way too good to pass up. What d'ya think, eh??
Put in a nice hot tub on the top, what could be better?

Since Traso is already about half way up the mountain side, a hike to the top seemed
within reason. The path up was sprinkled with spring treasures like these
tiny, delicate daisies. And out of nowhere appeared a green, green garden
patch smack in the middle of the brown and dormant earth.

Almost there ladies, just a little farther.
The villages in the distance shrank to colorful specks across the valley as we gained elevation.

Well, we made it, what now?

More treasures. Crocuses, which are native to the area, sprang up in every direction,
opening their petals to the sun.

On top of the world in the fresh air and sunshine.

Looking to the southeast, the sloping ridges seem to go on forever, silent and treeless.

If the weather had been just a little bit clearer we could have seen the island of
Corsica to the southwest in the distance. Nonetheless, we could not have asked for a more beautiful sendoff from this incredible country.

Until next time Italia.

30 March 2010

Bella Boccadasse

With a sizable bowl of pasta resting in our stomachs, we strolled along the seaside path between downtown Genova and the old fisherman's neighborhood Boccadasse to the east.

At the center of the buildings lies the main attraction- a tiny beach all of pebbles.
While that may seem uncomfortable even if you brought a blanket,
many of these sun-lovers are laying out on the bare rock- sleeping, kissing and chatting.

This man was fast asleep, and he was by NO means the only one...

I guess now you can't even sit on the beach without being bombarded by advertising.
And it's impossible NOT to notice an entirely lit-up barge drifting casually by.

The local biker gang of Boccadasse made an appearance on their home turf...
What ensued??? Bumper-bikes galore.

Watching as the sun starts to fade over the bay.

The car pulled up at home just in time for a lovely valley sunset.
Buona notte Italia

23 March 2010

Come to Camogli

After many long but wonderful months in France, it was time to head over to the Italian Riviera, say hello, and indulge in the wonders of Italian cuisine-- a.k.a. gnocchi con pesto(a Genovese specialty) every single day please.

The sun was shining, the air was warm and all the flowers were beginning to bloom.
We parked the car in Camogli- a small, colorful city right on the coast near Genoa. Rising up on either side of the city are vertical rock faces adorned with more small towns scattered about.

The little town waaayyyyy up there is called San Rocco, where we finally made it after scrambling up the mountainside from Camogli- out of breath, sweaty but happy. Time for an aperitif.

Along the way we found numerous treasures- clothes on the line, always, cats in the
walkway and flower pots teeming with beautiful displays.

And while some of the buildings were more run down than others,
they still retained a certain quality and charm.

Every mountain face was covered with terraces from top to bottom, full of olive trees and gardens. Talk about learning to maximize land use- they have the process down here and not only does it work well, but it creates a beautiful landscape.

Whether you are in France or Italy, there is a never-ending supply of vibrantly colorful houses lining the Mediterranean. The yellow building houses a restaurant at the top with a prime view.
Guests can see the Camogli port down to the right and open water all around.

This house is in the midst of renovation using the painting technique "trompe d'oeil"
or trick of the eye, which is very popular in this region. It makes use of shadows and highlights,
creating a 3D effect on the exterior walls.

Some very lucky person has a very nice summer home.

Finally, we made it all the way up to San Rocco and back down to the sea.
A lovely view for a picnic, with the sun's rays and sea's breeze.

Along the sea, fishing is obviously a huge industry. Fishermen's nets lined the walkway on the last part of our hike, ready for use when the catchin' is good.

From here we took a boat along the coast back to Camogli...enough hiking for the day, eh?

Approaching the port, the layered look of this coastal mountain city was striking.
Camogli, meaning houses of wives, is a contraction between the Italian words for house, "casa", and wife, "mogli". When the town was full of fishermen, the wives were always left
behind at home while their husbands were out at sea.

The life.

Good weather draws people out of their houses like nothing else.
No more work!!--Local Camoglians crowded the main drag along
the seaside in the afternoon light.

A finished example of trompe d'oeil fashioned in the lively colors of Camogli.
Note that the pink building on the right even went so far
as to paint on fake windows and shutters.

Any excuse to get outside that day, even just to send a text, was crucial for catching some rays.
The cafes could finally start putting chairs outside, the gelato places were packed
with screaming children, strollers and smiling faces.

Ciao waters of Camogli, and thank you for a glorious day in the sun.