Monday, December 29, 2008


After thinking about Tellaro the other day I decided to go there. Now is the perfect time because everyone is elsewhere for the holidays, and it is actually possible to find a parking spot. During the summer it is almost impossible to find parking for a motorino in some places in Liguria.

Tellaro is one of the quaintest towns on the Italian Riviera, and still pretty unknown to many tourists. It is found in the Golfo dei Poeti (Gulf of the Poets). The Gulf, located near the city of La Spezia, was given this name for the poets/authors who visited and lived in its vicinity; among them Eugenio Montale, D.H. Lawrence, Mario Soldati, Shelley and Byron.
Shelley lived in San Terenzo, and died when his boat was hit by a storm on his way home from Livorno. There is a grotto dedicated to Lord Byron at Portovenere named Grotto Arpaia. It is said to be named after Byron because he is the point from which he left to swim across the gulf of La Spezia to San Terenzo to visit Shelley in Lerici, in 1822.

According to Italian writer Mario Soldati, Tellaro is “a nirvana between sea and sky, between the rocks and the green mountain.”

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Waves Crashing in Camogli

Sometimes you can be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. I wasn't expecting to take any great photos this day in Camogli and was preparing to go home with a few banal shots. Then, just as I was about to call it a day I saw the water from the huge waves reflecting a beautiful color as the sun began to go down.

National Geographic has an interesting video on the painting of the outsides of houses in Liguria (it focuses on Camogli, but it is tradition in the whole region). They are painted in the trompe l'oleil style that was also used by Margritte (photo below). Things which are not real seem to take on a life and seem to be what they are not.

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Winter Colors in Liguria

One of the beautiful things about winter in Liguria is that the colors are often more defined and sharp than during the hazy summer days. This sunset shot was taken near La Spezia, one of the four provinces of Liguira. Portovenere (La Spezia) and the small islands nearby (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto) were added to Unesco's World Heritage list in 1997. Then in 2001 the Liguria Region founded the Natural Park of Portovenere.

There are many breathtaking places in Liguria that are still little known. Portofino and the Cinque Terre are becoming ever more visited by tourists, but other places still remain untouched by mass international tourism, and hopefully will remain that way!

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tuscany in the Winter

I love going to Tuscany during the low season. Florence to me is a nightmare during the summer, but if you get a nice fall or winter day it is much more peaceful and real without droves of tourists yelling and shoving.

This day in San Gimignano was just a little too cold, but it was worth it! San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany. It is a must see for tourists, but a tad artificial. Other Tuscan towns such as Montalcino and Pienza are more quaint and have not yet been ruined by mass tourism.

The best part of any trip to Tuscany (aside from the amazing panorama and quaint little towns) is the food. Steak in Tuscany is a meat-lovers dream come true. Fiorentina is a huge cut of meat, but if you have an appetite or someone to share with, it should not be missed. The meat is very tasty and tender, cooked to perfection on the grill. Most Italians eat it on the rare side, which actually gives it a different flavor than well done.

If you are not quite as hungry, ordering a tagliata is another delicious option. It is sliced meat often served with arugula and thinly sliced parmigiano cheese.

MC Escher travelled quite a bit in Italy. One of his drawings of San Gimignano:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pantelleria: the Black Pearl of the Mediterranean

The island Pantelleria is located halfway between Sicily, Italy and Tunisia. It is actually a little closer to the African coast than the to Italy and its African influence is apparent in the Pantesco dialect.

Reaching Pantelleria is quite time consuming a rather expensive endeaver. Unless you arrive in your own yacht like Armani, you can take a series of planes or boats from the mainland. The traghetto from Sicily takes about 6 hours, but it is worth the time.

"Pantelleria was formed more than 350,000 years ago in series of eight eruptions. Around 45,000 years ago the island imploded in a mass of volcanic activity, creating the mountains, valleys and hills which can be seen today. What also emerged was the 'Specchio di Venere', the so-called Mirror of Venus.
" M&C

Read more about Pantelleria in the LA Times.

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