The Baroque Splendour and Splendid Views of Cervo

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If you blink at the wrong moment on your Riviera train journey, you may miss it, but that would be a loss and a pity We first discovered Cervo about a year ago when our train journey to some other place down the Italian Riviera had been interrupted, falling rocks having damaged the tracks, and a bus replacement service was taking us on to the road.

I am only mentioning this because from the train, you can easily fail to spot Cervo altogether: most trains do not stop there, and the tracks are perhaps running too close by the Old Town for you to get a good impression.

From the road, conversely, you have a splendid view of Cervo and will understand why it is considered one of the most attractive small towns in this part of northern Italy between the French border and Genoa.

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Breathless in Monaco

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Urban Walks in the South of France With a trip to the Jardin Exotique, you always win Monaco mainly consists of concrete, and the few green spaces that you come across when exploring the streets of the principality all have an air of unrealness about them – as though the trees would all go up in a puff of smoke if you looked at them hard enough or, more likely, were revealed as cleverly conceived holograms when approached from the wrong angle. Once, when we checked a suspiciously lush lawn in the gardens opposite the casino, the “grass” turned out to be made from plastic fibres that had been glued to a rubber carpet: the green, green grass of foam.

This may be a tempting metaphor for the whole experience of modern-day Monaco, but the real story of the principality is not quite as simple as that. Monaco

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Noble Cervo and Diano the Brash

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Italian Riviera Walks on the Riviera coast work best when they combine colour and contrast

The French and the Italian sides of the Riviera, while having much in common, also reflect many characteristics of the very different countries to which they are attached.

The French Riviera, for example, is better “organized” and more clearly structured into individual zones (leisure, residential use and nature reserves), while Italy’s coastline is more haphazard, more “sprawly” and more densely built-up, the individual resort towns following each other in comparatively quick succession.

For coastal hikers and walkers, this represents a distinct trade-off: there is less “wild” coast in Italy, but it is logistically easier to find your way from one town to the next. Most of the time, a lungomare of some sort runs parallel to the sea front, and where you have to walk directly on

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Vallauris: A Town With Feet of Clay …


… and a reputation that owes everything to the world’s greatest artist of the 20th century Vallauris proudly calls itself “the world’s capital of ceramics”. But that is only half the story.

The more complete version goes something like this: for centuries, Vallauris had been the place where the inhabitants of the French Riviera came to buy their ceramic plates and pottery, and when the demand for hand-made, carefully crafted products dropped in the age of industrial manufacturing, the small town – located to the west of Antibes, about 3 km away from the coast – specialized on the artisanal end of the trade, becoming a regional centre for creative potters and earthenware producers.

This was not such a bad thing, particularly not when the alternative would have been to have no local trade or business at all, but in the light

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Ancient History Between Cannes and Antibes


Easy Hikes in the South of France What have the Romans ever done for the French Riviera? Not much, it appears. For our first proper walk of the year – one involving a forest, “big sky views” and mud under our feet – we picked a theatre of ancient local history.

You would be surprised how difficult it can be to find real “history” on the French Riviera. Don’t get me wrong: we have our share of castle ruins, baroque churches and aristocratic residences around here – this IS Europe, after all – but it is worth while remembering that the Grimaldis, the overlords of this stretch of land for centuries, came here as exiles, as the victims of Genovese power politics: the Riviera was their booby prize.

In fact, this region was poor for most of its history: which is why

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