Clubo Alpi Italiani.......After Pigna climb the alpine peak of Monte Toraggio (1,971m) and finally to the Rifugio Allavena (1,545m), a mountain refuge overlooking a scenic lake maintained by the Clubo Alpi Italiani and popular with mountain bikers. Dense pine forest mingles with untended 1,000-year-old terraces. Wild boar root through the pines and even find their way into the garden opposite the house in Isolabona
Hanbury Gardens- A Historical Mediterranean Botanic Gardens as seen on Monty Doms BBC2 Italian Gardens. The gardens were established by Sir Thomas Hanbury on a small, steep peninsula jutting southwards from an altitude of 103 meters down into the Mediterranean Sea. Major collections include agaves, aloes, and salvia, as well as fine old specimens of Araucaria cunninghamii (planted 1832), Casimiroa edulis (1867), olive trees, Olmediella betschleriana, and Pinus canariensis (1870). An orchard of rare fruits includes Actinidia, Carica,Diospyros,Eugenia, Feijoa, Fortunella, Macadamia, Mespilus germanica, and Persea.
Skiing Be on your skis in an hour from the door. Choose your own resort
Auron, France Ski Resort in French Alps (1,160m to 2,450m) An historic ski centre within easy driving distance of the Mediterranean. Good variety of terrain, all within the tree line and a wide-ranging list of non-ski alternatives.
Monte Bue – Santo Stefano d'Aveto
Europe Italy Remaining Italy Liguria
Monesi di Triora
Europe Italy Remaining Italy Liguria
TURINI-CAMP-D'ARGENT- 1600m - 1920m. Just an hour's drive from the coast, the Turini-Camp-d'Argent resort is located 1,700 m above sea level, on the boundary of the Mercantour Park near Vallée des Merveilles. The forest of Turini offers many hiking and trekking opportunities on skis or snowshoes.
Visit Baiardo. Bit scary as high on a ridge and broken - also spelt Bajardo - It is the remnants of a tiny town deserted then occupied by hippies in the sixties who have art studios and shops. The ruins of the church of San Nicolo, where an earthquake caused the roof to collapse during a Sunday mass in 1887, killing 226 townsfolk. People still talk about the tragedy. Now, grass grows where the pews once stood and the frescoes, exposed to the elements, are mere suggestions.We had a superb lunch on the edge of a cliff at Ristorante Jolanda, The ruins of an ancient druid temple draw the occasional pilgrim throughout the year and a bunch of them for an annual festival in July.
Ventimiglia Beach and Restaurants Ventimiglia 7 km from the French-Italian border, on the Gulf of Genoa, having a small harbour at the mouth of the Roia River, which divides the town into two parts. Ventimiglia market day is Friday . Daily Fruit and Veg Market in the old flower market. Try "Marco Polo" as beach front restaurant for lunch or "The Hanbury" near the station for supper.
French Riviera- Situated to the east of the point where the Alps meet the Med, it is an area that enjoys a wonderfully mild to warm climate all year round, despite being one of the more northerly coasts on the whole Mediterranean. From the Italian border to Nice is the most breath taking part of the French Riviera. It also is the most up market in terms of tourism. Old towns such as Menton and Villefranche sur Mer are crowded in between the water's edge and the mountains behind. The most famous of these towns is Monte-Carlo. 20 mins.
The Jean Cocteau Museum/Séverin Wunderman Collection is a museum in Menton, on the French Riviera, in the Alpes-Maritimes department. Dedicated to the French artist Jean Cocteau, it incorporates the collection of American businessman and Cocteau enthusiast Séverin Wunderman.
Jardin Serre de la Madone The Jardin Serre de la Madone (6 hectares), often known as the Serre de la Madone (Hill of the Madonna), is a garden in France notable for its design and rare plantings. It is located at 74, Route de Gorbio, Menton, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France. It is open to the public (every day except Monday) during the warm months of the year.
Cap Ferrat Beach Cap Ferrat is situated in Alpes-Maritimes département, in southeastern France. It is located in the commune of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. 40 minutes
San Remo Beach and Casino Twenty miles east of Ventimiglia lies San Remo,Italy's own Monte Carlo, a sun-dappled Mediterranean resort with a casino, a clutch of ostentatious villas and lashings of Riviera-style grandeur.
Monaco Montecarlo Casio and Beach - Monaco- Monte Carlo 10 minute drive from Ventimiglia....Good fun can be had here and not costapacket. Enjoy a massive salad in a beach restaurant 12 euros, do some neck crooning for fave A-listers. 70 euros will buy half an hour for two on a jet ski round the super yachts. Beach side underground parking 5 euros for three hours. The Monaco Grand Prix is a Formula One motor race held each year on the Circuit de Monaco more dangerous than that, Nina went tomb-stoning with local boys off the cliifs, very dangerous and not recommended for participants or watching parents.
Musée Matisse The Musée Matisse in Nice is a national museum devoted to the work of French painter Henri Matisse. It gathers one of the world's largest collections of his works, tracing his artistic beginnings and his evolution through his last works. The museum, which opened in 1963, is located in the Villa des Arènes, a seventeenth-century villa in the neighborhood of Cimiez.
Nice Jazz Festival The Nice Jazz Festival, held annually since on 25 February 1948 in Nice, on the French Riviera, is "the first jazz festival of international significance." At the inaugural festival, Louis Armstrong and his All Stars were the headliners. It is during this first edition that Suzy Delair sings for the first time the song C'est si bon to a cabaret where Louis Armstrong ended his evening. The biggest, flashiest, and most prestigious jazz festival in Europe.
Château de Lucéram The Château de Lucéram is a ruined castle, dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, in the commune of Lucéram in the Alpes-Maritimes département of France. The castle is the property of the commune. It has been listed since 1927 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
Musée Marc Chagall The Musée Marc Chagall (National Museum or Chagall Biblical Message) is a national museum dedicated to the work of painter Marc Chagall - essentially his works inspired by religion - and located in Nice, in the Alpes-Maritimes.
I hour 10 minutes
Terre Bianche is situated on the high limestone plateau between the Roya and Nervia rivers above Isolabona and Dolceacqua. Their Vermentino and Rossese di Dolceacqua are superb and one of the larger producers of Vermentino. Up the heart-stopping winding lanes, you drive through olive trees and vines. The landscape is constantly changing and breathtaking. The maestro Filippo Rondelli produces 45,000 of the best of the region.
Vermentino 2012: Oh, how I love you Vermentino! Terre Bianche’s offering is the perfect example of the variety. A real crisp, agrumey and floral wonder and the perfect accompaniment to lazy Mediterranean days. The wine was perfectly structured with certain minerality and we detected hints of resin. Perhaps a reflection of the local terroir?
Pigato 2012: If Vermentino is the expression of summer in a glass, than Pigato is what to fill your glass with as the seasons change into autumn. A slightly richer, creamier wine with a welcome almond nuttiness to the finish. Rondelli spoke of how the crispness of his Vermentino was almost alpine-like. Well, the Pigato definitely shows its Mediterranean roots. There’s more sun, a slightly baked ‘hot’ aspect to this wine.
Arcana Bianco 2010: Terre Bianche’s cru white wine, made from Pigato grapes found at the actual terre bianche vineyard. A more delicate example of Pigato, softer and creamier. Interesting biscuit hints which add a yeasty tone to the wine. Another drop with fullness to cope with the white meats of Christmas dinner, although I also think a Moroccan tagine with dried apricots would be a perfect match as well!
Sunday Nearest January 20th Dolceaqua Procession of San Sebastian, a winter pre-Christian worship, with the shaft of the false fruit to signify the glory of fertility and fruiting. It was ritual of the Latin "sementine Holidays", during which the related fields of lustration and offered to Ceres and Earth a potion of milk and cooked meat, while heifers that worked in the fields, were wreathed with flowers and left to rest.
February First End of Winter The Celtic-Ligurian people took care of the cleansing of the field, celebrating "Imbolc" lustrale feast of February 1 and with this the end of winter. The Greeks Massaliots led the branch of the beseeching, filled with first fruits of all kinds, to signify the end of infertility.
In the days before the festival the "Bastianin", an ancient brotherhood, ensure cut and shape, the big laurel shrub chosen, adorning every frond with numerous "négie", colorful wafers prepared in the course of long watches of the night, in the previous days. To integrate the imperfections in the shape of the crown, expert craftsmen artificially integrate the gaps between the authentic branches with leaves recovered from other plants, operating real inlays in the original trunk and supporting the "overs" with special rods. A patient and thoughtful work, the result of ancient experience. After the church service, the branches are cut and offered loads of their hosts, to everyone present, with special care to preserve the pleasing fetish, obtained in exchange for a spontaneous donation. Traditionally, the peak towering, appropriately marked nell'addobbo, with uniform color of "négie", is delivered to the plant donor.
August 16th Dolceacqua, the Festa dellaMichetta (the michetta is a typical local cake), to remind the people of the end of the infamous jus primae noctis that the tyrant Imperiale Doria claimed from the young brides of the village. This was cancelled, together with some other injustices, by a popular rebellion. Since then the simple cake, a kind of brioche with a particular shape, is asked by the boys tothe girls that give it in sign of liking during a merry musical raid along the streets of the village.
Christmas in Dolceaqua, the two principal squares of Borgo and Terra quarters some big bonfires are light. They are a symbol of participation to the cosiest holiday of the year. The terraced hills are supported by drystone walls. These are a witness of the secular toils and of the tenacity of the Lygurian countrymen to get a little land to till.
Christmas in Isolabona is a romantic delight. The village is lit and decorated. Isolabona is alive with family gatherings and parties.
Dolce Aqua..Castle Restaurants Tourist Shops On the last Sunday of the month, there is a market selling local organic produce. Beekeepers, olive oil producers, market gardeners, farmers and wine growers come to sell their traditional produce.
San Remo Music Festival ermm eurovision gone local.
The spirit of commune in Isolabona or communale is tenable. Active in artistic festivals and displays from human circus to harp festival. Six o clock is still the time to gather for sharing a drink and a plate of gratis home made "tappeto" in one of the bars. Commune ication across the barrier of language will occur with smiles and feelings of "bonomia".
Lo spirito di comunale o cittadina a Isolabona è sostenibile. Attivo a festival artistici e display circo da uomo a festa arpa. Sei o clock è ancora il tempo per raccogliere per la condivisione di un drink e un piatto di fatti in casa "tappeto" gratis in uno dei bar. Ication comune attraverso la barriera della lingua avverrà con sorrisi e sentimenti di "Bonomia".
Luke self portrait with his father Giovanni.
See the Important Frescoes in the Sanctuary of our Lady of Grace- Isolabona The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace. Classic building in the Greek Temple style. Well worth a visit..The interior of the building is entirely decorated with frescoes of very good quality and great interest. Frescoes attributed to Giovanni Cambiaso (1495 - 1579), was born in Cambiaso at San Quirico in Val Polcevera in 1495 . His ancestors were farmers, his father a tenant of the archbishop of Genoa. He was taught by Antonio Semino and her work partner for some time was Francesco Brea, son of Antonio Brea from Nice. He was also a scupltor in terracotta. He became a refugee and lived for some time in Moneglia where he had a second son Luke. They developed a productive relationship and worked together for some years. They developed their own version of the stroke beccafumiana. In beccafumiana the figures are defined against the black. The background, outlined softly but clearly, modelled by a constant, subdued light and bathed in warm, subtle colour. The classicism and simplicity of the Isolabona Sanctuary creates a perfect atmosphere and canvas for what can be applauded as an extraordianary demonstration of virtuosity. For critics of Cambiaso who demean him as "provincial" or "Ligurian". I say come to Isolabona sit in this extraordinary place and be humbled by the talent.
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The connection with the sea- Isolabona perfectly situated to benefit from the "frutti di mare" , on nearly every menu you will find the harvest of the sea or shore. Historically referred to as the hard men from the hills, who took to the seas, to become pirates. But pirates with as noble a cause as any imperialists. The Genoa-Pisa confederacy rocked Venice, but the successful battle for the Venetian island of The Lido cost Admiral Doria his life. An intriguing model ship (more info anyone) hangs in the The Sanctuary. Fabulous frescoes behind.
Beach - Closest Beach is a 15 minute drive from the Casa. Wander across the road from the Ventimiglia town beach to the corner of the park. There you will find possibly the best ice cream shop in the world. Or find the best sand beach favoured by the young, a walk along a cliff path, towards France. Very busy on Sundays. Views to Monaco and Sardinia. On the beach, best restaurant for lunch Marco Polo. Historic. Or find other beaches towards the fashionable San Remo.
Fishing- Fish the rivers. Amy caught a Brown Trout and a Barbell. Two boys walked past with a bucket full of fish. Brown Trout was caught 10 yards from No. 8 Via Orsini. No one has cast from the verandah....Yet.
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Trail Walking - Plenty of wonderful trails and walks. The famed Nordic Walking Trail starts and finishes in Isolabona 24 miles. Climbs approx 3000 feet. Total climb around 4500 feet; Isolabona-Bajardo-Perinaldo-Apricale-Isolabona. A bit of a fave is Rio Barbaira, near Rocchetta Nervina . High vertical canyons. Bathe in the fresh pools of the Barbaira river. From here, several long footpaths up to Gouta’s gorge passing Ponte Pau, Monte Abellio or from Monte Morgi to Isolabona. Rochetta is the starting point of the multi day Alta Via High Way route.
Fig Garden- Wander through the village, pause to enjoy a bush then wonder at how it is an intricate weave of very manicured fig trees. Woven to look as one while the river rushes buy, a space of utter tranquillity and charm. The secret fig garden near U Cian restaurant.
Harp Festival- Isolabona International Harp Festival held in the castle.
Visit Vinyards- Isolabona and Dolceaqua produce Rossese wine, a DOC ruby red wine with a typical soft, aromatic and sweet taste that has an alcoholic strength of 12.5 degrees at least (when the alcoholic strength reaches 13 degrees or more, in Dolceaqua it is called Superiore). The Rossese is obtained from a unique vine and it has a limited production.
Cycling, Mule Paths and Pony Treking - Isolabona is perfectly situated as a starting point for forays into the Parco Naturale Regionale delle Alpi Liguri, 12,813 hectares of protected mountains, valleys and towns. Thousands of kilometres of newly marked and well-kept mule trails, called mulattiere, snake through the mountains (snow capped for six months) and the terraced hillsides to connect the small towns. Huddled on hilltops or dug, bunker-like, into the sides of the valley, retain their ramparts from medieval times when they were the garrisons and trading posts of warring republics. Inside them, the narrow labyrinthine lanes - chibi - that were meant to confuse invaders.