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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

While in Italy

It was my intention to eat Gelato every single day, 

maybe even twice a day.

That didn't happen.  I almost missed this opportunity if my eye hadn't caught the hand painted tiles in this shop in Sestri Levante,  Italy.

So much to do and so much to see in Sestri Levante. 
Gelato sometimes has to take a back seat. 

We stayed at the Grand Hotel Dei Castelli in Siestri Levante, Liguria, Italy,  many years ago.  Thankfully, not much has changed. 

 The rooms are beautiful, the dinner was fabulous. 

The Hotel retains its charm while providing modern amenities for their guests. 

The Castelli sits on top of a hill and has an elevator that takes you down 5 stories to the ocean side promenade.  Another elevator takes you to their private beach, imported sand and all. 

And then, Relais del Maro a new discovery!


And the fabulous hotel Relais del Maro. 

A little out of the way but only 15 minutes north of the Italian Riviera between San Remo and Albegno, Italy. 

This is where we met a very confused and lost little black and white Spaniel. 
He would repeatedly cross the only road in the village, 
completely lost and wearing out.  

I knew that it was only a matter of time and he would get hurt.

 The hotel owners tried to find his owner. They made numerous calls and posted a notice on the internet.  

In the meantime he was safe in the furnace room.

Gene decided that this was not how the owner could find his dog.  

No leash was available so Gene wrapped an orange wedding ribbon around his neck and he and the lost dog sat on the bench, across from the hotel, in the rain, for almost 2 hours.  

I felt sorry for both of them. I took out a cup of tea for Gene (yes, the hotel serves high tea in the afternoon). We sat for another half an hour. 

 Suddenly a car drove up, a man jumped out and the dog flew into his arms, wedding ribbon and all. 

Relais del Maro
is spread among three different buildings in the middle of town and a few steps up a side hill.

If you like to shop, this is not the place for you.  If you just want to spend a few days relaxing, maybe hiking a little and just be pampered by the hotel staff, than this is the place.

 This beautiful church is the largest building in town. 
What I like about European churches is that they are open, every day and all hours of the day.  

If you must make a choice then these two places I would like to suggest for your next visit to either Italy or Germany.
the Herrnschlösschen in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany and the Albergo Diffuso Relais Del Maro, Italy. 

Leaving the beautiful Italian and French Riviera and driving toward Avignon, France, we found another charming chateau.  

The Chateau de Varenne is located on a quiet side street in the small hamlet of Sauveterre.

Love the use of red in these old walls. 

Growing out of an ancient wall, a powerful perfume guided us up the stone steps.

Driving towards Paris.
We stopped in at the Chateau De Bellecroix, near Chagney, France.

This was a "Discovery" trip. 

We didn't stay long in any of the places we visited. 
The bonus is that we now know where our next visit will take us.  Then we can take our time and get better acquainted with the surrounding area. 

 All of our places were chosen because they were beautiful, interesting, in the quiet countryside, with easy parking and , hopefully a good place to rest your head on a comfortable pillow.

And fine dining, if we are lucky. 

Chateau de Bellecroix filled all of those requirements. 

Happy travels my dear friends. 



  1. FABULOUS everything Gina, my kind of trip! Lovely places to stay and eat - obviously grand but quiet. The story of the little dog is so touching - your Gene sounds like my Bob, he'd be out there looking for the owner come rain or shine. Thanks for caring Gene, hope you were rewarded with a good swig of something warming while you dried off!

    Beautiful photos of really splendid places Gina - they warm my heart this foggy autumn morning.
    Hugs - Mary

    1. Dear Mary, We were very surprised to find so many beautiful chateaus to stay in. The prices were nominal and the experiences were, without exception, really special.
      The little dog was so charming but not very bright. Come to find out he really didn't live very far from where we found him. But he was so confused, he just couldn't get it together. Gene is known for rescuing people and animals.

  2. Dear Gina,
    Dreaming of a vacation in Italy is just what I need this morning as it has turned very cold in Texas. Even your photo with the rain shower looks warm and inviting and the story of the dog rescue is precious. Chateau de Bellecroix in France calls out to me especially because of the Ivy covered tower and the fine dining. Looks and sounds just gorgeous. Thank you for sharing all the special places you visited.
    Warm greetings, Sieglinde

    1. Dear Sieglinde, Bellecroix is not very far from where you spend your Summers. I know that you would love it. Maybe next year. Making advance reservations yourself is so easy with the Internet so full of resources and for every country. Good photographs accompany most sites from which you can get a pretty good idea if you would like it or not. And then there are the comments left by travelers.
      Besides, it's a great pastime during the cold winter months.

  3. Dear Gina,

    Thank you for a lovely tour and a touching story. I have not seen as much of Europe as you and Gene, but I like the idea visiting spots and staying long enough to experience them over time. That way the memories are more indelible, and one can allow for more personal interactions, as you did.

    1. Dear Mark,
      I have it all figured out. You will write a book full of photographs and text of your Pompeian room project. You will supplement your book with actual photographs of your visit to Pompeii. Then you will publish your book and everyone will be begeistert (astounded) at your talent. And then, you will become wealthy and you can travel Europe and the rest of the world to your hearts content. Yes?