Just like the French Riviera, the Italian Rivera is the playground of the Rich and Famous. In fact, while we were there we saw a motorcade with England's Tony Blair at the wheel of a convertible. The restaurants and shops reflect the wealth of the area and visitors to the area as well. The people, however, do not share this Posh Attitude. They are warm and welcoming and just simply lovely. Everyone we met there, from the small restaurant owners to shop keepers to ferry captains, were wonderful to us.We spent some really wonderful hours enjoying the waterfront of Santa Margherita Ligure. The brightly colored homes, hotels and boats in this little port were beautiful. After dinner our first night we walked down to the sea wall, enjoyed the experience of the restaurants filling up, the lights coming on over the bay and even the statue of Columbus in the square. That combined with the sounds of the gently lapping water and the happy voices of the local patrons made for some wonderful ambiance.
I loved the combination of the fancy hotel, with it's well appointed beach front area, right next to the ship yard. It leaves the impression that the every day lives quite happily with the opulent. It may only be an impression but our visit there left us with the feeling that it was real.
If there were one place I'd like to live in Italy it would be this one. The beauty of this town along with the open and friendly attitude of those who live there and the proximity to the sea is the perfect combination for me. There is even an cinema playing a brand new movie in town. All the right pieces for me!
The ferry is right in the middle of the marina and offers a lovely view of the castle ruins which are right downtown. This 16th century castle was built to defend the town from North African pirates.Santa Margherita is known for it's Trompe-loeil on the buildings. It is an art technique that creates an optical illusion by using paint. Almost all of what you see on this building is an illusion. It is just flat paint. So beautiful to look at and just awe inspiring.
As if the Trompe-l'oeil wasn't enough decoration, the Italians added in the wonderful ironwork on the balconies to the facade. Gorgeous details are the norm in Italy.
Just walking around town you will see several examples of this amazing technique.
And we spent a lot of time just wandering around during our free time. Our neighborhood had plenty of wonderful surprises. Like this internet dating mini truck. Living in the world of the Detroit Big Block type of car it is amusing to us to see these teeny vehicles but while driving on ancient streets, even those that have been modernized, it is easy to see how these small vehicles make a lot more sense there.
But the amusement was easily found in teeny vehicles like this one. The shop is one full of wonderfully frilly and feminine clothing and accessories for women. But when I saw this French titled business car in the Merci parking spot I just couldn't resist the photo. Now, merci means "commercial" in Italian but it sure looks French in this context! We had a nice chuckle over it. These "smart" cars are now all the rage over here in the US now but they still remind me of our "pink rollerskate" car in Santa Margherita.If you think of a square clock and our hotel being at the 10 o'clock position then this incredible house was at the 4 o'clock position on our block. We didn't have to walk past it each time we walked downtown but we sure made a point of doing just that. The entire building was covered in Trompe-l'oeil and each time we would stop and look and find something new that we had missed before.
This is the front doorway. With this art form they could easily have stopped at one detail but with this house they didn't even try. The bright colors, the iron railings, the pebble mosaic of the entry slab, the heavy wooden double doors were all just more details against the wonderful Trompe-l'oeil.
This header actually looks like scrimshaw. But it's only paint. The detail is absolutely amazing. (To see the detail click on the photo to see the larger version.) I love the shape of the doorway too. More details.
Over the doorway was another gorgeous mural. Every piece of the facade of this house was just so beautiful.
Next week I'll share with you the treat that is known as the Cinque Terra. In the mean time you can get several photos a day on Instagram. Just follow shutterbugtraveler there!