Mention a trip to the “Italian Riviera” and one envisions palm trees, beaches, hot sun and relaxation. In fact, Russia had a heat wave that forced the cold polar air south to Italy, so it was very mixed and generally chilly weather along the Ligurian Sea in Italy over the weekend.
When I was living here in Italy for an extended period (June 2009 – July 2010), I rented an apartment from Sandra, who lives in Sanremo. I met her in person 4 months after I had arrived in Milano, when I spoke limited Italian. But she, her husband, Mauro, daughter, Valeria, and I sat and chatted as best we could. At the end of our chat, she invited me to come visit them sometime.
I took the train to go see them in February 2010, after which Sandra said, “You always have a place here with us.” I’ve have now been there five times. A trip to see them has become a requisite “must-do” for me while in Italy.
The four-hour train ride takes us up and over the hills from Milano to the port city of Genova (what Americans call “Genoa”). At that station I had 15 minutes to transfer to the slow train to travel along the Ligurian Sea shoreline, stopping at a half dozen towns along the way until we arrived at Sanremo.
Just a stone’s throw from the border with France and Monaco, Sanremo is a destination for tourists enjoying the lovely setting and climate, the casino, and the yearly musical festival. There are street markets, beach umbrellas for rent, historic centers and gala events. Traffic is chaos and life is beautiful.
See more pictures and read more stories about other visits to Sanremo:
“Sanremo on the Riviera”
“Signs of Sanremo”
“Home Construction, Italian Style”
“Storm and a Blue-sky Day in Sanremo”
“A Ligurian Lunch”
“Sardenara – Not Quite Pizza with Anchovies”
Milano had been having a crashing, pouring rain all night and all morning, and I had to walk to the subway station to then get to the train station. I hate having wet feet and imagined having my shoes drenched and cold for 4 hours on the train. So I tied plastic bags onto my feet. So very chic. So high-fashion. (Somehow they got damp anyway.)
It would be fine with me not to see McD’s in my life ever again so it pissed me off to see their ads plastered onto every turnstile at the Milano Centrale train station. Damn. Hate that.
I was standing at the train platform, looking up to the Genovese hills. (Click to enlarge.)
People watching while waiting for the train in Genova. (Click to enlarge.)
We encountered sunshine along the coast, close to Genova and Savona, but then it got grayer and cooler as we approached Sanremo. (Click to enlarge.)
Riding along the sea, so blue in the sunshine. (Click to enlarge.)
Sandra was making her wonderful Ligurian-specific “Sardenara”. It’s “not-quite-pizza”, with anchovies, Ligurian Taggiasche olives, tomato sauce and garlic. (Click to enlarge.)
Sandra, Mauro and Angelo stand on the deck of Angelo and Renata’s new house that’s near completion, right at the Ligurian shoreline. (Click to enlarge.)
Sanremo is known for the flowers it grows for Europe. These are some of the many greenhouses on the hills.
We spent some time watching the Giro d’Italia. The poor cyclists rode amidst snow fields and glaciers in the pouring rain.
In the Sanremo train station waiting to head home. Here’s the automated restroom, coin-operated and self cleaning. I think the whole stall hoses itself down after each use. (Click to enlarge.)
My train compartment fellow travelers for part of the ride from home. A cross-section of the world was represented here and we all enjoyed the varied chat. (Click to enlarge.)
These red-and-white striped chimneys were Dr. Seuss-like against the storm blue sky on the way home.