Category Archives: Italian Riviera

Vallebona, Italia

More than a week ago, we were all geared up,  van jam-packed, ready for the long haul to Hungary when, out of the blue,  while driving  for a practice run, the van’s gear box came crushing down to pieces!  Luckily, the accident happened just few hundred meters to the nearest garage so we were able to drag it there, albeit with great  struggle and mental shock for both H and I.  Good thing that it happened in Menton on a bright sunny day so we had the chance to de-stress and de-shock on the sunny beach – amongst the lemon decorated streets as the Fete du Citron was ongoing – before catching the bus to home.

We have been on the waiting game since then, as the Italian mechanic would report that it is not easy to source the right parts and all that.  So in the meantime, we have been making ourselves busy with house clearing and tidying up in-between visiting lovely villages and towns of the Italian Liguria.

Le vie dei sapori e dei colori” (The routes of flavours and colours) is a booklet that I have been keeping as bible to all our Ligurian itineraries.  It is about the 16 towns and villages of staggering beauty, colours and gastronomy located in the valleys of this beautiful region of Italy where the Mediterranean sea meets the mountains of the Alps.  The beauty of all this is, they are just outside our doorstep with the farthest village not even one hour driving distance!

We have seen ten villages out of the sixteen – Dolceacqua, Apricale, Airole, Ventimiglia, etc.  And on this post, I’d like to share with you the TENTH and the latest, which we visited last Sunday.  It’s the village of Vallebona.

 

VALLEBONA

 

Vallebona is one of the oldest and most typical Ligurian village of 1,327 inhabitants in the province of Imperia.  It takes its name from the fertile valley – Valley Good – where it was founded in the 12th century.

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 This is the entrance of the village, the arch is what is left of the access port   built to defend the town.  On closer look, one can still see the fissures which  defenders used to pour boiling oil over the enemies.

This is the Oratorio della Natività di Maria dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary,  designed in the Baroque style by the architect Andrea Notari.

 

The village is characterized by long and steep narrow streets, arches and buttresses which were once used for defense.

I have to use the silhouette of H to show the height and width of these caruggi (alleys)

In recent years, the historic centre has been skilfully restored and brought back to its original charm.  The cute narrow stairs on the right are obviously a last-minute but necessary addition!

The ancient fountain on the left seemingly serves as a strong support for a more modern stairs on the other side!

 The natural rock forms part of the walls and ceilings of buildings and local stone is used as stairs and footpaths.

An ancient shop signage is still preserved, for the sale of (explosive) powder used in mining and hunting which was prevalent in the 19th century.

This  meter wide alley has a name:  Vico Monte Bello (Alley to the beautiful mountain)

My first impression of Vallebona was the abundance of Piaggio trucks of all shapes and forms!   Where mules once tread through these ultra narrow and steep alleys, it’s now the glorious ape piaggio doing the work!

 

 

 Vallebona is blessed with a good view of the sea and the hills teeming with  flowers, olives, lemons and other Mediterranean vegetation, so it is only natural that everyone has to have his own terrace!

  The viaduct in the far distance is the expressway that connects the south of France into the Italian motorway.

Before we left Vallebona, we had to try its equally glorious apperitivo!

 

With a glass of negroni above and some bites of dried sausage, chips, peanuts and Italian bread…this is truly the land of  La Dolce Vita!

Theme: Mimosa

 

No other flowering tree gets my heart racing than the billowy bright yellow mimosa!  They bloom towards the end of February, lasting tiIl the first week of March  and I always look forward to coming home in the south of France just to catch the two precious weeks that they are out!  Too bad that they don’t last long but when they do arrive, they are not only lovely to look at, they also exude a heavenly scent, so delicate and fragrant,  a wisp of sweet lemon that you can’t get enough of!  They seem to thrive well along the steep slopes of the Riviera – both Italian and French  – and that is why at such time of the year, this region bursts in yellow to the great delight of passersby who can’t resist taking out their camera to record a lasting memory of the short-lived but breathtakingly refined flowers

With the mimosa’s qualities of strength and robustness and a flower that is fragrant and delicate, it symbolizes a strong woman but with a gentle and kind heart, that is why every International Women’s Day which we celebrate every 8th of March, it is a custom in Italy to give sprigs of the mimosa to every woman they know or encounter each day, like the postwoman Giuletta who delivers the mail or Valentina, the next door neighbour who always say “Buongiorno” with a smile.

And to honor this special day, our Theme this time is about the flower symbol of the woman – the Mimosa.


He is mesmerized by the beauty of the mimosa.  I can’t blame him.


Yellow is psychologically the happiest color in the color spectrum.   So in the south of France where Mimosas are indigenous,  they are used as decorations to please the eye.


And since lemons and oranges are also at their peak season the same time as mimosas, they make a perfect flower arrangement.


This is Italy and they are the largest producer of mimosa.  They harvest about 3,000 tons of the flower each year and they export them all over Europe.


Despite the Recession, the mimosa export business will continue to grow since they are grown locally and, unlike other businesses that relocate to “cheaper-labour countries”, the mimosa will remain 100% Made in Italy.

It has become THE Ambassador of Made in Italy products!

In 2009, Mimosa was declared Color of the Year by the ‘Oscars’ of the color world- Pantone.   According to the color authority, it’s the one universal color that  best sums up the hue that will define our feelings and desires for a fresh new year.


Italians are a very religious people and the mimosa plays a big part of it.


A big bunch of mimosa is a great gift to the missus to honor her being a woman this International Women’s Day.


So for those who haven’t bought their sprigs to give to their female friends, they are being sold in every market or street corner especially today.

Such a nice color to brighten up the world!

 

And to show you how excited I am, I just had to have this shot!

Auguri alle signore! (Best wishes to the ladies!)