France and Italy
Along the Italian Ligurian coast we visited Portofino, San Remo, Bordighera, and Ventimiglia. We stayed in a quaint inn in Bordighera that offered home cooked dinners and local wine. The intimacy of living and dining with a local family, enjoying the food and conversation is by far our favorite way to travel and be part of another world. Even if it is only for a day or two the memories stay with you.
From Bordighera we walked to the village of Ventimiglia. The beaches along this part of the coast are narrow and filled with small flat stones and dark sand. The citadel of Ventimiglia is perched on the hilltop overlooking the sea. The surrounding hills are tiered with huge beds growing flowers and in the morning hours you can smell the smoke of burning leafage that will be used for mulch. Ventimiglia, the flower capital in this region, exports their flowers throughout this part of Europe and is located on the Italian/French border. Westward from the Italian town of Ventimiglia, with its fortified wall enclosed clusters of tall houses perched above the Mediterranean Sea, you enter Provence France.
Provence is a Mecca for an artist. It is no wonder that many of the master impressionists lived and painted in the south of France. Throughout the region in Frejus, the oldest arena in Gaul built 2000 years ago, and in Arles, Aix de Provence, Avignon and other villages the landscapes are dotted with Roman ruins along with rising gothic steeples. Throughout the mountain villages and towns in this part of the French countryside are narrow streets and weather-beaten tiled rooftops.The fertile valley of the Loire River and her tributaries is home for the magnificent estates of the grand chateaus built for the kings, queens and the kingʼs mistresses. Each one of these chateaus were built in the rural countryside of the Loire valley. The gardens and the layout of these estates were picture perfect and were used as the subject of many of my paintings and photographs.
From our base in Cannes we took day trips. During our stay in 1993 the Muse drove over 1760 kilometers. We headed north to Grasse and St. Paul de Vence. In the old Notre Dame Ancienne cathedral in St. Paul hung several Peter Paul Rubens paintings and very old well preserved wooden sculptures.
A few hours’ drive, north of Nice is the Maritime Alps bordering Italy. The drive through the mountains and gorges are picturesque and the villages perched on the mountain tops are artistically beautiful and quaint. The narrow alleys and streets that wind through the village contain the stone clay tiled roof top houses neatly built centuries ago. High up in the Alps the village of Uʼtelle and the medieval villages of Peillon and Peille. We walked the steep narrow alleyways and that was a work out. The steps to get from alleyway to streets were very steep. It was more of a hiking experience than a walk through town. The views looking out from the streets and alleyways into the gorge and seeing the distant mountains of Italy.