Poet’s paradise – Sestri Levante

It is well known that Liguria as a region has inspired many poets both local and Sestri Levante Google mapsinternational, as it has an endless number of stunning bays and enticing beach resorts. Sestri Levante is just one of such places. And as I now sit back home under yet another downpour watching our Covid numbers rise dramatically, only two weeks ago I was there enjoying what was in fact the last swim of the season.

View of Two bays Sestri Levante

View of two bays Photo credit Mo Ny

 

Only an hours train ride Cinque Terre, Sestri Levante is rather unusual has it has two large bays – the Bay of Silence and the Bay of Fairytales.  It also has some very pretty decorated facades typical of Liguria, as we had seen in Santa Margherita Ligure

The Bay of Fairytales named after Hans Christian Andersen who fell in love with the place in 1833, has since inspired the Andersen Festival dedicated to fairytales and theatre for both young and old.Bay of Fairytales, Sestri Levante

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View for Bay of Fairytales, Sestri Levante And while the view from this Bay is delightful we are soon heading for the more intimate Bay of Silence which is stunning. And we are not the only ones who thought it could be the last weekend of sunshine and warm enough for a dip.Bay of Silence, Sestri Levante

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of you who travelled with me on the 2011 tour may remember our first evening dinner here at the Portobello restaurant, despite being weary with jetlag! A magic atmosphere outdoors Fishing boats , Sestri Levanteon a balmy night around the same time of the year.

Easy to see how a local poet, Giovanni Descalzo who lived in Sestri Levante named it the Bay of Silence in 1919 and wrote many poems about the area.

Sestri Levante has ancient origins, as the name Sestri refers probably to “Segesta Tigulliorum”  considered the sea settlement of the Tigulli, the tribe of the Ligurian family who lived here in pre-Roman times. ‘Levante’ meaning facing East where the sun rises was added to distinguish it from Sestri Ponente, facing west where the sun sets. little of these ancient times is visible, and what is, is in the Archeological museum.

Sestri Levante monumentStill a pleasant stroll above the Bays reveals an archway and monument to the city’s history and ferocious lions guard the entrance to the historic Grand Hotel dei Castelli which has the best views over both Bays and as it’s publicity suggest combines Nature and History.Sestri Levante protective lion

 

 

 

And for those who love anchovies, fresh, fried, marinated, stuffed….Liguria is the best place. Every town and village has it’s  own L’Acciughina – Anchovy Snack bar.


Anchovy snack bar, Sestri Levante


 

Share

A Bird’s eye view on Florence – Palazzo Vecchio

Palazzo Vecchio FlorenceWant a bird’s eye view of Florence? While the options are many – Brunelleschi’s Dome, the Cathedral bell tower or the magnificent panorama from Piazzale Michelangelo, I had never seen Florence from the Tower of the Palazzo Vecchio. It was time to go and I was lucky enough to go up just before a storm rolled in and it teemed down on the city.

The Arnolfi Tower takes its name from the architect Arnolfo di Cambio who began construction of the building in 1299. However the tower was already present and incorporated into the Palazzo, hence its decentralized  position. At that time it was known as the ‘della Vacca‘ or ‘cow’ tower owned by the Foraboschi family. ‘Della Vacca’ as cattle usually passed through the streets towards the butchers’ shops, located in Borgo Santi Apostoli and in Via delle Terme. Can you imagine that?! The piazza was in fact not a piazza, but streets, alleyways and housing belonging to families loyal to the Ghibellines. On the defeat of the Ghibellines their houses were expropriated and demolished by the victorious Guelphs, all except for the tower. The Palace of ‘Priors‘ was built to house the Florentine government. A military Palace boasting the power of the city, a fortified building complete with battlements, the square based Guelph and swallow tailed Ghibelline battlements on the tower. An appropriate setting for its governors (Priors) who were locked inside for their two months in office, to avoid corruption and distraction from the outside world!Arnolfo Tower, Palazzo Vecchio

The tower visit has 3 viewing areas, the parapet walkway, and two access points at the top. A narrow staircase taken with enthusiasm by tourists, both local and foreign eager to see the first view over the city. Note the covered holes in the floor of the parapet walkway where liquid lime, stones and other hazardous materials could be launched on besiegers. The 360 degree view on Florence is awesome and this was just the beginning….

Tower of palazzo VecchjioMore stairs as we climb to the top, 95m above the city, almost to the same height as Brunelleschi’s dome on the Cathedral at 116.5m but then that’s including the gold ball and cross. Past the cell ironically called ‘Alberghetto’ – ‘Little Hotel‘ where Cosimo the Elder was imprisoned in 1433 and also the Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola before being burned at the stake in Piazza Signoria.

The view of Florence takes everyone’s breath away, it is inebriating! Mobile phones click furiously as we circulate between the battlements to get the best shot.

Florence Cathedral from top of the tower

View on Santa Croce church as the storm rolls inIt’s a long way downIt's a long way down Tower palazzo Vecchio

And of course the obligatory selfie….proof of the visit!View from the top

 

Weather vane Palazzo Vecchio

Photo credit Ron Reznick www.digital-images.net

The last curiosity is that we are just below the wonderful golden weather vane, consisting of a sphere, a rampant lion (the Marzocco) and the Lily of Florence. And as the local proverb goes “if the lion pees in the Arno river then it’s going to rain!” Florentines still heed its warning.

The Palazzo of Priors became the old palace – Palazzo Vecchio from the end of the 16th century when the Medici family moved to the Pitti Palace. It continues today to be the Town Hall of Florence, much admired and respected and highly recommended to visit both inside and up the Arnolfo tower.

 

Share