"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Revisiting Santa Margherita Ligure

Santa Margherita Ligure May 2012

One of my favorite stops on the Holland America Eurodam cruise of the Western Med was Santa Margherita Ligure. Originally we were supposed to tender there, but there was a change of plans and we ended up tendering at La Spezia. I chose to take the tour to Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino, and I am so glad I did. It was a hard decision as the other tour I wanted to do was Cinque Terre. The really cool part of our tour was that the bus actually meandered through the area of Cinque Terre, so we were able to see the houses perched on the hills from our bus, and I just couldn't miss Portofino. I loved Portofino, but I think I liked Santa Margherita Ligure even more.

Notice the Holland America sign at the bottom of the photo
Why, you say? Portofino is amazing. It has star power and is totally walkable. There are charming hotels and great restaurants and what's not to love? But Santa Margherita Ligure is a real place. When the sun goes down and the cruise ships and yachts leave, Portofino nearly closes up, but SML continues. It has banks, police, a Cathedral, real estate offices and restaurants for the local people. I would love to return to both places, but I think I would stay in SML. Our walking tour was fascinating!

Italian flag-inspired building
Cathedral detail at Santa Margherita Ligure

Real estate office ceiling at Santa Margherita Ligure

If you would like to visit this area, there is great information on Fodor's site about this area of the Italian Riviera, just click here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Santa Margherita Ligure

Panorama at Santa Margherita Ligure

Santa Margherita waterfront

Santa Margherita Ligure in the province of Genoa is one of the most picturesque places I have ever seen. I couldn't decide what photo to post first. Anyway, no photograph will really convey the feeling you get when you arrive in a place like this. We arrived by bus, then were taken by boat to Portofino. I loved Portofino. Everybody must love Portofino. What's not to love. It is small and chic and very famous. But what I loved about its neighbor, Santa Margherita Ligure, is that it is a town. When dusk comes, it doesn't close down. It is a place where people live and children go to school, where the wife of the local policeman makes his lunch to take to the station, where the old people pray at the local Cathedral. It is a real place, not just a tourist place. 

Typical house colors in Ligure

Don't get me wrong. I love tourist places. They are good for a day or two, but Santa Margherita Ligure is somewhere I would love to return. I would love to stay in one of their hotels and wander the streets and have cappuccinos. I would love to eat at their restaurants and take a stroll along the sea front. I want to visit the Churches and Cathedrals. It is a place I would love to go back and spend some time. More information on this lovely place can be found  here.

Last but not least, I am fascinated by the people from Africa who live in Italy and other Western European countries. They spend a lot of time with a rolled blanket or sheet, with knock-off sunglasses and souvenirs inside. Out their wares come on the sidewalk, then they feel police presence, everything is rolled up and they run off. Police pass and ten minutes later they are back. Some of their knock-offs are quite good too!

Local street vendor 

it almost feels like a game between these gents and the local police. They seem to tolerate each other!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Cinque Terre: Here I Come

Vernazza, Liguria
I loved Liguria the last time I was there. We docked somewhere else but then took the bus to LaSpezia and a boat to Portofino. It is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. At the time, I was sad because the shore excursion to the Cinque Terre was sold out. I waitlisted but couldn't get on. So here once again, I am looking forward to a trip from Rome to Barcelona. Our stop in Livorno has an excursion to Cinque Terre, and this time I will book early.

Monterosso, Italy
The tour goes to three of the five towns of the Cinque Terre from the ship. I toyed with a private tour, but since I am traveling alone and don't know if I will meet anybody to go with me, I will probably use the ship tour. The private tour was $1,322 dollars ... up to 5 people. Sounds kind of steep.

Manarola, one of the towns of the Cinque Terre
I think Manarola is the one we always think of when we hear about Cinque Terre. I just love the way the buildings are of all different shades of sherbert and lean precariously on the mountainside.