Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Olbia, Sardinia

We take the ferry over to Sardinia, arriving in Olbia in the north of the island.  Our hotel offers an incredible view of the water and the coastline across the harbor, with ferries passing back and forth.

 Dramatic view of the harbor and coast

We drop our luggage at the hotel and drive up to Porto Cervo, the Sardinian playground for the rich and famous.  
The drive up to Port Cervo is incredible:  stunning water views, rugged coastline, and islands in the distance.

Views of the Mediterranean and Sardinia on the drive

 Yachts in the harbor at Porto Cervo

Porto Cervo itself is a modern port of shops and restaurants with great sculptures scattered everywhere.

Views of Porto Cervo

 Random sculptures

We poke around for a bit, wander into a few shops, then head back to the Burger & Beach Bar that caught our eye as we drove up, sitting on the top of a hill, with a path down to the water for dining at the water's edge.  
We walk down a path to the sea and enjoy fish and chips and burgers, with local beer and a view that can't be beat.  We could sit here all day, relax, and watch the water and breathtaking sights.  We enjoy it so much that we come back a few days later for another round of burgers, fish & chips, and scenery.

 Burger, fish and chips, sliders

 View of and from our table

After lunch, we head back to our hotel and spend some time on the beach as a great finale to our first day in Sardinia.

 Afternoon at the beach

Friday, December 25, 2020

Wandering Around Monterosso Al Mare, Cinque Terre

Monterosso al Mare is the northernmost of the 5 Cinque Terre towns and is divided into two parts, the old town and the new town, which are connected by a tunnel in which pedestrians and cars compete for space.  The train station is in the old town, but northbound trains pass over a bridge by the main square in the new town before reaching the station, giving a quick glimpse (as the train pops in and out of the tunnels) of train and town (depending whether you are in the town or the train).

Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, the main square in the new town, provides a space where residents and tourists dine, relax, swim off the beach, and enjoy the passing of each day.  The old town and the new town are both incredible, each beautiful and distinct in its own way.

 Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi

Behind the piazza is the Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista, built between 1244 and 1307.

 Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista

On the south side of the piazza, streets wind their way into the city and up the hill (one of entries of the trail to Vernazza begins here behind the city hall).

 Streets through the city

A few blocks into the city is the Oratorio Santa Croche, another beautiful church dating from the 16th century.

 Oratorio Santa Croche

Crossing over the main street in the new town, Via Roma, we walk through more picturesque streets and up a hill to the over-400-year-old Convento dei Frati Cappuccini (convent of the Cappuccini Friars), complete with a beautiful church and a cemetery overlooking the city.

 More Monterosso streets

 Convento dei Fratti Cappuccini


 Views from the cemetery

Descending from the cemetery, the path leads to the statue of St. Francis of Assisi, with more great view of the sea and the new town (beach and train overpass).

 St. Francis of Assisi and his view in both directions

The walk down from the statue reveals yet more panoramic sights and, when we arrive in Piazza Garibaldi, it is market day, with food stands, food trucks, and household and clothing stalls set up in the piazza and under the train overpass.

 Views of the sea and beach

 Market day in the piazza

Our lunch this day is inspired by ingredients we have just seen in the market, focaccia with anchovies, tomatoes, and mozzarella and frito misto with anchovies, shrimp, and calamari.

 Focaccia and frito misto

There's a reason we come back here as often as we can!