Someone once described Piemonte to me as being “Tuscany without the Tourists“. And, to a degree, that is true, they are similar in many ways and there are less tourists. But what people really enjoy about Tuscany – the rolling landscape, the meandering country roads, the wine, the food and the medieval villages – can be also be found in Piemonte, especially the region around Alba, and for a lot less money.Continue reading “Weekend in Alba, Piemonte”
Journey to Barcelonette
In mid’ June we decided to drive north to the small town of Barcelonette, situated high in the French Alps, about a three-hour drive from Nice. Our decision was based primarily on the strong relationship this town, or region, has had with Mexico since the early 19th century. Many people from here immigrated to Mexico; there’s not a family that did not have someone who went, and those that did, many did extremely well, returning years later very affluent and building elaborate mansions on the outskirts of town.Continue reading “Journey to Barcelonette”
Evora (Days 5-6 of Central Portugal Tour)
Evora is a town which was once encircled by fortress walls, although little of it is visible now. In its place is a road, a “periferico”, around the town. It is not large, quite easily walkable throughout, through a maze of streets that can make it difficult to know exactly where you are at times. But small enough to quickly become easy to find your way around and back to the hotel.
Part IV of our Central Portugal Tour. (Part III is here)Continue reading “Evora (Days 5-6 of Central Portugal Tour)”
Marvao (Day 4 Central Portugal Tour)
We next drove back to the main freeway (A23) from Monsanto and headed south to try and find the town of Marvao. The drive from Monsanto to the freeway (N239) was beautiful as we wound our way through fields of colorful spring flowers scattered with ornamental-like cork trees. We weren’t very familiar with how cork actually was harvested (from the bark, which grows back on the trees every seven years), but found this article very explanatory.
Part III of our Central Portugal Trip (Part II here)Continue reading “Marvao (Day 4 Central Portugal Tour)”
Monsanto (Day 3 – Central Portugal Tour)
Once off the Serra da Estrala mountain range we followed a valley and the River Zezere northward to the town of Belmonte and the Convento del Belmonte. This is a beautifully restored convent just outside of town that overlooks the valley below, which is lined with fruit orchards, primarily peaches and cherries. Beautifully restored, the convent is modernly attired with plenty of common-sitting areas throughout the property. The rooms are quite large and modern with kind-size beds available. The primary building was made from large, hand-cut granite rocks with large wooden beam ceilings.
Part II of our Central Portugal Trip. Part I here.Continue reading “Monsanto (Day 3 – Central Portugal Tour)”
Tomar (Day 1 – Central Portugal Tour)
This was our lunch stop, a couple of hours out of Lisbon, (on the first day of our Central Portugal one-week trip), to the charming, small town of Tomar on the banks of the Rio Nabão. Its old quarter is typically attractive, laid out as a grid of cobbled streets centered on a fine square, and there are lovely riverside strolls to enjoy and green woods for picnicking. We enjoyed lunch at a small cafe in the heart of the old town, before exploring the convent on the hill behind the town, standing sentry, and the real reason for our visit.Continue reading “Tomar (Day 1 – Central Portugal Tour)”
Bussaco Palace (Central Portugal Tour)
The Bussaco Palace Hotel (Palace Hotel do Buçaco) was built between 1888 and 1907, originally as a palace for King Charles I of Portugal as a royal retreat, or “hunting lodge,” as he referred to it as. And it embodies a beautiful architectural style referred to as “castle romanticism,” which is obvious quickly upon your arrival to the hotel, and from the photos above and below.Continue reading “Bussaco Palace (Central Portugal Tour)”
Lunch at Dolceacqua, Italy
A few kilometers inland from the coastal Italian town of Ventimiglia, (which is just minutes from the French border and Monaco), along the river banks of the Nervia river, lies the small town of Dolceacqua. The town has become a popular tourist site because of its ancient medieval town, its lovely stone bridge and for the Doria castle which sits on the hillside behind the town. But it’s also famous for its “michetta” sweet rolls which are connected to a local legend of romance and revenge. It’s a favorite place for us to have lunch after when we visit the markets in Ventimiglia.Continue reading “Lunch at Dolceacqua, Italy”
“A little bit of everything” Drive from Nice
Living in Nice makes it possible to explore and do a variety of things, all within a day. Recently we drove from Nice to Monaco to walk around and have breakfast. From there we continued on to Ventemiglia in Italy to do some shopping for parmesan cheese, ham, limoncello and vegetables as it is so much less expensive there.Continue reading ““A little bit of everything” Drive from Nice”
Spring Spain/France Tour
In mid’ April of this year (2014), we set off on a trip we’d been wanting to do for some time, to visit Andorra in the Pyrenees, and then make our way over to Bordeaux and do some wine tasting. In between we’d visit towns along the Pyrenees and the Spanish/French border and come back along the Dordogne river. But it all depended on the weather. This is just a brief summary of the trip, with links to other posts about specific places we visited with more info and photos.Continue reading “Spring Spain/France Tour”