When I lived in France my ex son in law used to visit me often. He is a chef and is very interested in European cuisine. On one of his visits we went to the seaside town of Alassio in the Liguria region of Italy. I am very glad that we did because the journey took us along the Mediterranean coast of Italy known at the 'Italian Riviera.' This long stretch of coastline with picturesque towns and villages along the way remains one of the most scenic routes I have ever seen in my travels. Now, the Italian Riviera is not as well known as the French Riviera as the latter is famous for its glitzy glamor and celebrities. However, in my opinion I think Italy has more beautiful sights than France, at least in terms of beach resorts.

We left Bourg en Bresse (the city where I lived at that time) early in the morning. It took us about 6 hours to reach Menton which is on the French side of the border with Italy. We did not stop along the way, even at Cannes and Nice, two very famous French cities, as I had been to both places before. At Menton we did take a break for a while for some light refreshments. From there, Alassio is just 87 kilometers away (about 54 miles). However, we made a slight detour to the Principality of Monaco which was just a half hour drive away from Menton.

In Monaco we had lunch at a hillside restaurant overlooking the bay. We could even see the castle of Prince Rainier and the late Princess Grace from the terrace of this restaurant. Surprisingly, the bill for our lunch was not at all what we expected from a fancy restaurant. It was rather cheap and we wondered later whether they had made a mistake in calculating the amount. Anyway, we didn't complain at all! From there we went to the Grand Casino at Monte Carlo, but it was not opened yet. Anyway, I don't think we would have dared to go inside even it was open at that time because of the high stakes involved in gambling at this place. I have seen many movies filmed at the Monte Carlo Grand Casino where many a man have lost their entire fortunes or even their lives!

As we had made the detour to Monaco, the distance became a little longer to Alassio (about 96 kilometers or 60 miles). Also, after we crossed into Italy it took us well over 2 hours to reach our destination because everytime we passed through a town we would stop for a short while to take in a few of the sights.

It was well into the afternoon when we arrived in Alassio. We checked in at the Hotel Majestic. It is an old beach hotel and the room decor there (at that time) was simple and old fashioned which suited me fine as I like old stuff, particularly old buildings and architecture. I still remember the desk clerk's name, Marina, as we had corresponded by email when I made the hotel reservation. We found her to be a pleasant person who spoke quite good English.

We had a late lunch at one of the small restaurants in the city. Now, Alassio is a small town and we could do most of our sightseeing on foot. My son in law wished to buy a leather jacket and wanted a genuine one made in Italy, and after searching in several shops in the downtown area he finally found one he liked. I think he paid a hefty sum for it too! Then we strolled along the promenade. It was nice because although it was March the weather was only a bit cool and we just needed a light sweater. I noticed a lot of old people there.

In the evening we had a very good seafood dinner in town. I can't remember the name of the restaurant but the place was packed. I do recall that both of us drank a lot of Italian chianti which went down well with the seafood! I am not much of a wine drinker (I prefer beer) but as the old saying goes, 'while in Rome.....in this case while in Italy....'

The next morning's breakfast at the hotel was somewhat of a disappointment as it consisted only of a lot of different kinds of cereals, plus several varieties of cheese, but no meat at all. We later learned that this hotel catered especially to senior citizens with emphasis on healthy food. Well, we certainly saw a lot of these old folks at the hotel and also at the beach. Marina the receptionist later explained that old people from all parts of Italy usually converge to the beach towns in March and April as it was the low tourist season and they could get good discounts on hotel room rates.

We stayed in Alassio until that afternoon and took another direction on our return to France as it was quicker than the coastal route, arriving back home in the late evening.

As mentioned earlier, this region of Italy is really beautiful, and I am very happy that I was privileged to see it. I also had the opportunity to visit other parts of Italy which I found equally beautiful, but in a different way. Hopefully, I will be able to write more about my travels in this wonderful country.