Charming Italian towns near Monte Carlo

Old Sep 21st, 2009, 09:51 AM
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Charming Italian towns near Monte Carlo

We are getting off a cruise ship in early June in Monte Carlo and wanted to spend some time getting a taste of Italy. Would anyone recommend towns that could be reached by train, say a couple of hours away.


mbw220 is offline  
Old Sep 21st, 2009, 10:26 AM
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Nice - which used to be called "Nizza" when it was still Italian. The Old Town of Nice is still Italian.
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Old Sep 21st, 2009, 11:52 AM
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A couple of hours away, you may go as far as the Ligurian Coast - Santa Marguerita or Portofino would give you a good Italian taste. Slightly further afield from these is the 5 villages of Cinque Terra.

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Old Sep 21st, 2009, 12:16 PM
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The trains into Italy are not good once they reach Italy, so unless you want to spend more than 4 hours or more on a train, places like Portofino, le Cinque Terre and Santa Margherita Ligure are well out of reach. However, the "Ligurian coast" actually does begin at the French border, and is filled with lovely, incredibly atmospheric places.

I would suggest Bordighera, just over the border, a favorite haunt of Monet and the original site of what is now the Cannes Film Festival. It has many fine restaurants, not undone by tourism, and lovely gardens a taxi ride away. Some google searches will fill you on the interesting history of the town.

If you are willing to spend more time on the train, the spectacularly lovely town of Cervo, in Imperia is a great lunch spot,

with a lunch at San Giorgio's

Get a taxi at the station in Cervo, or be prepared to walk steps uphill.

Of perhaps equal fascination is the Porto Maurizio, also in Imperia, which shares space with the town of Oneglia, with its highly regarded olive oil museum and well preserved historic center. Be forewarned that this is very much a working town, whose port is devoted to commercial olive oil shipping, so it is a mix of lovely historic architecture and modern necessity. Authentic Ligurian eats abound, no tourists in sight.

San Remo is the usual cruise ship-type destination, with its casino and quasi-luxury hotels. But it is quite a faded gem, a relic of the days when Russian and Scandavian royalty summered there, and now with quite a feel of vice and loose living.

While it is true that Nizza (Nice) has off-and-on "belonged" to Italia -- but then, so did Monaco! ,If you want to stay within France and feel something "Italianate", the town of Menton will do that visually -- but the food and culture is decisively and fiercely French (as is Nice).

The "feel" of Monaco could not be more different than the "feel" of Italy. Hooray for you for heading into bella Italia. I hope you enjoy the democratic, salt of the sea feel.
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