Porto Venere and Carnivale for kids

Two weeks have flown by since I last posted an entry here. I’ve been occupied with personal matters lately, and the neglect of this blog is just one casualty.  Despite all the bullsh#t going on, I think it’s important to always have a bit of fun (and never to feel guilty about it!) otherwise I’d go insane.  Well, even more than I already am.  So, dear friends, I give you some photographs to make you smile!

Last week we visited Porto Venere, a small but very beautiful village on the Ligurian coast near La Spezia.  It’s actually not a very long drive from here and quite easy to find. No GPS required! After going through La Spezia, you continue for a truly beautiful drive along the coast.  The views were just gorgeous on such a lovely day.  There were lots of little fishing villages, narrow streets winding up hillsides and little boats in the bays.  On the way, we stopped off in Le Grazie (actually by mistake) and were charmed by the little marina and shops and restaurants along the water.  When we got to Porto Venere, there was a steep one-way descent down to the village by the water, and then back up again to find a park.  We enjoyed the walk down to the village, and had a look around at this gorgeous little tourist spot with it’s looming island (Palmaria) to one side and the castle and fortress wall above the village.  We headed up some very steep stairs into the old centre and wandered around. We came across a stone piazza on a cliff-top with the church of St Peter (consecrated in 1198….no, that’s not a typo!) and the Grotta dell’Arpaia (Byron’s Grotto) leading off it.  The Grotto is very cool and you can climb right down to explore the cave and rocks.  This grotto is famous because the English poet Byron swam across the gulf of La Spezia to San Terenzo to visit Shelley in Lerici, in 1822.  He must have been keen, because that water looks cold!   St Peter’s church is built right into the edge of the cliff and has a spectacular view from it’s balcony and rooftop.  The view of the Mediterranean sea is so wide, you can almost see the curve of the earth.   We wandered back and eventually found a way up to the Andria Doria Castle, perched high above Porto Venere.  Really, these Italians know how to make the most of an amazing sea view! The castle is still in pretty good condition for 12th century real estate, and we enjoyed exploring the many levels and towers.   After a steep descent back down to the water and some gelati, we headed back home.   It was a great day and such a beautiful place to explore! It’s all free too (except for the castle which is just a few euros) and a very good family outing.  Enjoy the pics (all 20 of them! It’s hard not to go a bit overboard in such a lovely spot):

Porto Venere

Porto Venere and you can just see the island of Palmaria to the left of this photo

Looking out from the castle above Porto Venere to the island of Palmaria

Some Japanese tourists returning the favour of the family portrait Chris did for them

Those cool multi-coloured village houses that I love so much in Italy. Tall and narrow with washing hanging out....there's always washing!

The church of St Peter in the background and the grotto is off to the right

Down in the grotto, you can see the castle behind us on the cliff

Chris climbing on rocks in the grotto

Denver and I exploring the stone pathways and caves

Denver after being told to "stay where you are!". He likes to raise my blood pressure by running off and climbing dangerous rocks. (The windows in the rock wall behind look like eyes don't they?)

The views! The views! Just look how beautiful the med looks through that arched stone window.

Inside the church of St Peter. I love that stripey stone work (apparently "new" 14th century work)

Did I mention the amazing views??

On the way up to Andria Doria castle

Looking down from the walk up to the castle. Breathtaking!

From the castle entrance, a view of a very ornate campanile

The view down the castle wall

Playing in the Andria Doria Castle

One of the narrow stone corridoors of the Andria Doria castle

The great hall of the Andria Doria Castle. Pretty solid.


Carnivale for kids

Oh how they love a good Carnivale here! You saw the Viareggio one, now check out the Bagnone one.  OK, it’s nowhere near the same scale, but I think it was even more fun!  This sort of thing happens in all the towns around here: the kids get all dressed up and then parade around on “floats” (dolled-up trucks) and get to throw confetti and spray silly string at all and sundry.  Fun!!  Our friend Monika lent us some costumes for the boys and they loved dressing up as Peter Pan and Dracula.  It was a lovely day in Bagnone luckily, and we all had fun parading through the streets with stops along the way for food and drink (very important!).  It all ended up in a hall near the school and there was even more food and merriment.  The kids had a ball and got to take part in something I’m sure they will never forget.

All dressed up and ready to go

The boys in their costumes

On the float

Having fun amidst confetti!

Monika and I in the crowd

Denver and his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Cinzia

Riding on the float, the Italian flag flying high

Kids jammed in the back of a truck!

At the "after party", Balin with his girlfriend Jolie

Denver with his "other" girlfriend Vanessa. Fickle boy!!

Even the adults got in on the fun! Franco wearing his grandson's hat.

We got lots of comments on the “jumping” shot from the last post, so I thought I’d finish with another one of the boys. It’s hard to synchronize them, but it turned out OK in the end (as it always does).




About missrini

Global citizen. Travel blogger. Eccentric dreamer.
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2 Responses to Porto Venere and Carnivale for kids

  1. steve says:

    I love the black& white photo of Balin(?) in silhouette walking through the ancient archway. Very atmospheric.

  2. missrini says:

    Yeah, that’s Bay. Chris was happy with that one too.

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