Sunday, August 28, 2022

From Italy to France, and a lot of action along the way!

 We've been doing lots of stuff and have been very remiss with keeping up the blog.  Sorry about that!  We did the last blog post in Rome and stayed there for almost a week, taking in as much as we could.  We were there on a Sunday, and went to St. Peter's Square to see The Pope during one of his public addresses. There were lots of people in the square and The Pope made an appearance from the window of the Papal Apartments.  He was a long, long ways away, and we didn't get to see much.  Can you spot him in this (very zoomed in) photo?

We left Rome and were chased into a marina by some very dark thunderclouds.  We hopped our way north along the "shin" of the Italian Boot with some day sailing.  We made it to a beautiful coastal Italian town called Santo Stefano that is famous for its rowing races (that we just missed).

From there the forecast was for some more serious thunderstorms, so we used a short clear weather window to make it to Livorno, Italy and tied up in another marina.  Luckily, we arrived just as the weather started to deteriorate, and tied up just in time for a major squall to roll through.  The winds in the marina were clocked at 63 knots for a brief period!  This was the same unexpected weather system which caused serious damage to the west of us, in Corsica.  They experienced hurricane force winds on that island, and many boats ended up in trouble.  Here the girls are enjoying the wind and rain safely in the marina (with a healthy dose of lighting & thunder).

Livorno had a lot to offer, and is considered "New Venice" with its waterways through the town.  We took the dinghy for a bit of a wander amongst the buildings of Livorno.

Since the forecast was for more electrical storms, we decided to take the train to Piza about 30km away to the north.  The square at the Leaning Tower of Piza was breathtaking.  So much amazing architecture and history was packed into this small space!  Aria won our family/tourist photo contest in Piza.

We walked up to the top of the Leaning Tower and it was trippy (literally!).  The tower leans at 5 degrees and it was very noticeable up at the top.  Here is a bell in the tower that hangs plumb.  Its obviously not in the centre of the window.

We didn't escape the thunderstorms while in Piza and had a ridiculous downpour that lasted about 30 minutes.  This was the view of the clouds above the impressive cathedral in Piza Square.

The square included a Baptistery that had heavenly acoustics.  While inside, we were treated to a demonstration which did not disappoint.

The weather cleared and we decided to keep heading north on the west coast of Italy.  Our next destination was the Cique Terra, a beautiful series of quaint villages on the ocean.  These 5 coastal towns are very beautiful and a popular hiking route links them all together.  Between villages, the hikes were only about one hour each, then a train takes you back to where you started.

We had a couple of encounters with local Italian ticket checkers and got two separate fines this day for taking the wrong train/bus.  Our Italian is non-existent which led to our problems in the first place, but they weren't all that sympathetic, unfortunately.  We were 130 euros lighter, and at the end of our Italian travels so we decided to head to France :)

We did an overnight crossing and landed in Menton, France which is on the Italian border.  It is the easternmost town in the French Riviera, and was very charming.

While anchored in Menton, we took a quick train ride west to Monaco.  This is the second smallest sovereign nation in the world (after the Vatican) and had always intrigued us.  In the 13th century Monaco was captured by the Grimaldis and has been under their rule ever since (well, mostly - they were in exile for a few years in the 18th century after France kicked them out).   These days, Monaco is wealthy and opulent thanks to the Monte Carlo Casino, and the infrastructure around that. The Monaco Royalty is also fascinating, and about 70 years ago, actress Grace Kelly married the Prince of Monaco to become Princess Grace.  We visited their amazing aquarium, and toured around the city taking in all the sights.

Next, we will move onto Nice at the heart of the French Riviera.  Our traveling around has been amazing and we have kept ourselves very busy.  We do have relaxing days as well, and end up going to the beach or snorkelling off the boat.  We will try to post these blogs weekly, and let you know what we are doing and where we are going.  Keep checking in and see what we've been up to.  Check out the links to the right and you can see where we are now!

1 comment:

Melissa O'Brien said...

We are LOVING reading about your incredible adventure!! Wow, the sights are beautiful. Enjoy every moment (and keep the updates coming!).

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