A Travellerspoint blog

At last, out for a 'relaxing' drive πŸš— β›°

We found some easier roads nearby, just by taking the ferry to the other side of the Lake!

It was a leisurely start today. Jill took a couple of interesting photos from our balcony. The two swans and their six cygnets are around our area a bit.

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While we were happy enough with our accmmodation its location was a bit of a challenge. The narrow crowded roads were a bit of a negative. Today we drove to Bellagio and caught the car ferry to the opposite side of the lake. Almost like a different world! βœ”οΈ πŸ˜† Not so cramped up and the roads were so much wider. We drove up round the top or northern end of the lake, right next to Switzerland and right at the foot of Alps. We also discovered an Autostrada that runs down the eastern side of the lake. Mostly tunnels it appears, so it is not a tourist drive. Here are a few photos from the drive. Getting on ferry etc, enjoying Managgio and Varena.

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Both Menaggio and Varena were more relaxed that the cramped confines of Bellagio and Lezzeno.

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And finally you have escaped the dreaded quotes so far but that is finished. Stand by . . . .

Orson Welles, American actor, director and writer: "In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace - and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

La semplicitΓ  Γ¨ l’ultima sofisticazione – Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
-Leonardo Da Vinci

Tomorrow Brescia.

Posted by stavmagpie 10:25 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Getting to Lezzeno on Lake Como

Crossing the Plains of Lombardy and the famous River Po

Why famous you ask? Well I remember it from school geography lessons and it sure is a big river. Famous because its at the heart of the brilliantly productive plains of Lombardy. Here lies the key as to why Northern Italy is more wealthy than Southern Italy.

After leaving Genoa we basically drove up from the Mediterranean coast and onto the Lombardy Plain, then across it of course to Como, at the foot of the Dolmites. (Italian Alps). For all the geography enthusiasts, the map below gives a good context.

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On our way we crossed the Po.

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We also visited the old town of Pavia. Pavia is famous for its covered bridge that dates back to the 14C. The old bridge was severely damaged in WWII and rebuilt in 1949.

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It was a pretty straight forward drive with the Italian Alps getting closer and closer. The driving to Como was on Autostrada type roads. Our car is very economical, about 5l per 100km, giving us a range of well over 1000 kms! Fuel is around €1.30 pl. Our major expense when travelling are the tolls for the highways. We seeem to be constantly feeding the credit card into a robotic toll collection machine. You are successful when a) you get you card back, b) you hear arriveverderci and c) the bar lifts to allow you on your way.

After Como the driving was exciting. A very narrow and busy road, and often difficult to pass oncoming traffic, especially larger vehicles like buses and trucks!

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Our accommodation was right on the lakefront at Lezzeno, 22 kms from Como. Villa Bellagio. Bellagio, a glitzy tourist mecca is some 10 kms further on. Our home for 7 days.

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Some more photos from our balcony, around the lake and Bellagio.

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One of the unintended outcomes of being in this spot is the degree of difficulty getting around. The narrow roads are often crowded and are no encouragement to cruise about. Yesterday we went into Como by boat, one of these.

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We then went on a cable car to get a birds eye view and, to our surprise we had to climb another 250 metres. Here's a photo of Jill at the top, fresh as a daisy as you can see.

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Some more photos around the lake, ps the Villa may belong to George C.

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Today is Friday and this afternoon we are taking the car to the other side of the Lake, by ferry and tomorrow we are going to Brescia

Posted by stavmagpie 03:02 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Mediterranean Magic. ⛡️πŸ›₯πŸš€πŸ›³βš“οΈ

The 'Cinque Terre' or five towns, Portofino and a last look at Genoa.

On Saturday, 21st May, we ventured out of Genoa, yes in the Alfa. We travelled east from Genoa, initially seeming to spend as much time underground in tunnels as out in the open. It is an oft quoted truism that driving in Italy is never particularly easy, in fact it can be bloody difficult. We took the Autostrada to La Spezia, a fairly big town with a large port, 110 kms to the SE. From there we headed to the southern most and nearest town on the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore. Early views along the coast were spectacular and as the roads narrowed there was a revving up of excitement. (stimolo ad accelerare)

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Riomaggiore is very much a tourist mecca as we had expected, and we had quite a walk from the carpark to get down in to the town. Views down in the town looking out at the azure Mediterranean were sensational.

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A couple of tourists, among thousands enjoying the sights and coffee.

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Then a seafood risotto while checking the footy scores.

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After lunch we drove on to Manarola, another unique cliffside village. This place felt a bit more like a party town, everyone under 45 or so seemingly busy swimming, laughing and sipping an apertif or sometimes even a beer!

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While you can drive to each of the Cinque Terre towns there are easier ways to get to them, noteably by ferry, by train and walking. There is a walking trail between each of the towns, hard going and the number of steps to be negotiated brought back memories of Nepal. We noticed many people walking between towns. The tracks were nicely signposted.

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What was quite amazing about this place, apart from the brilliant blue backdrop of the Mediterranean, were the houses and small towns that were built in this incredibly difficult terrain. Many houses were 5 or more stories high. If you can't spread out, build up. And growing grapes for the Cinque Terre wines was also tough going. However, this has all been going on for centuries with the terraced fields, grape vines and olive trees part of the landscape. Now the wine growers had even constructed mini funicular rail 'trucks' to bring their grapes up the steep hillsides to the road. Jill is sitting in one of the carts and when they are going uphill (see pic) the vintners are lying back, face up to the sky, in a small cage as as they come up from their terraces below!

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It was a long day, even though we never travelled great distances. The roads were 'exciting' and often so narrow that cars needed to back up in order to pass one another. And, some of corners had to be negotiated as 3 point turns!

On Sunday we headed out east again, this time not so far, just 40 kms to the very famous and iconic seaside village of Portofino.

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Yes you have probably seen photos of this place before. It is where the rich and famous play and the working classes who can afford airfares and the odd beer, come to gawk. Shopping was available but a little out of our reach. Jill priced a nice embroidered round tablecloth, with a nautical theme and lo, €900 and you could have it! Alas, it is not in Jill's bag for the trip home? We enjoyed walking around the harbour and admiring the boats. Some beautiful yachts and polished wooden launches, 1930's style.

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Now just a couple more photos around Genoa. The residence of Christopher Columbus and other bits of interest including one last shot of the freeway invading the port area. Also included in this selection is a shot taken inside the Fiumara Shopping Centre.

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Tomorrow we drive to Lezzeno, on Lake Como. 7 nights, so there might even be time for fishing? Next blog is likely to be a few days away.
Ciao and arrivederci! 😜

Posted by stavmagpie 08:54 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

To Genoa and thereabouts 😎

Loving the Italian Riviera πŸ˜† 🌞 πŸ–

On our way from Beaune to Northern Italy we planned to try and drive over the Alps through a pass that had proved unpassable for us in 1993. This planned route was to take us across the Col d'Isere, and through the village of Val d'Isere. Val d'Isere was a major venue for the 1992 Winter Olympics. Much to our surprise, the road was closed. Bugger! So we drove south to the border town of Modane, still in France. Our accommodation there was operated by a couple of octogenarians and our room was in shoebox proportions. No worries there was a shower etc, oops, no there wasn't. Jill was able to have a bath but a second person having a bath was out of the question, no room! And to run the bath took some time and we had to be on our way.

Out of Modane quite early on Thursday morning and into a tunnel, 13kms long! We left France in rain, mistand cloud but on the other side the sun was out and the Alps looked a treat.

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On to Genoa. Just 2 hours travel! Suffice to say Genoa is not an easy place to navigate around. We parked our car, at the Genoa Novatel where we are staying, just €14.80 per day to park the car! The rest of Thursday was on foot. It is now Saturday am, news, Collingwood has beaten the Cats, now I didn't pick that. And there's moore, we are in the resturant eating breakfast and lo! A dog is barking, want's more bacon I guess. Yes dogs are ok everywhere here. The first thing that struck us in Genoa was the Autostrada stuck over the historic waterfront area. See photos below.

Our first day involved lots of walking and getting oriented. We saw a couple of famous statues of famous Italians, Christopher Columbus and the great soldier and architect of the 19C unification of Italy, Garibaldi.

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Genoa is an old, messy and cramped city with an abundance of beautiful old buildings. This was city of great wealth, especially relating to its seafaring and trading past. If you had money, and many did you built magnificient houses, sorry "Palazzos" - and it is these that are quite a focus for tourists. There is concentration of these great old buildings in Via Garibaldi, also a busker or two.

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We also went on a small funicular railway to the hills behind Genoa. Fabulous views.

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A couple more pics around central city area:-

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In the next blog we'll go to the Cinque Terre and Portofino. Coastal scenery like you could never imagine.

Posted by stavmagpie 08:06 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

After jet lag. A tough few days.

Burgundy and on to Genova.

We really enjoyed "la belle France", travel easy and comfortable accommodation.

After picking up the car on Sunday afternoon we drove south to Auxerre, a gateway to the Burgundy Region. Found a reliable Ibis Hotel (Accor) and stumbled into a local market.

Our hotel in the late afternoon sun and the a few moore pics as we sampled some local cheese and champagne!

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The next morning we drove into Chablis. We were pretty pleased to be "in the duck's guts" as far as Chablis is concerned. The original dry white? And yes, that car again!

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On the way to Beaune we observed a few cattle, relaxed as always. These were beef cattle, breed ? , let's say white.

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We toured around Beaune on Tuesday and also managed to tour a wine cellar or "cave" as the French call their cellars. Probably because they are universally underground. The one we visited had 3,000,000 bottles in store! It was the Patriarche establishment, established 1780, 8 years before European settlement in Australia!

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Finally, a modern art piece in the centre of Beaune. Quite stunning once it sinks in as to what its about. The photos may not, do not, do it justice. A modern day traveller with his valise, alas he has a leg and most of his torseau missing, blown away . . . .

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Next blog we'll drive through Annecy in France, miss out on driving through Val d'Isere once again and introduce Genoa, city of Tunnels and Freeways on stilts.

Posted by stavmagpie 07:42 Archived in France Comments (3)

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