A delightful 140km drive along the French Rivera from Nice to Santo Stefano al Mare in Italy. A glorious Saturday and the whole coastline is chockablock with people making the most of the weekend. We’d completely forgot what day it is, so found ourselves travelling at a very slow pace behind a constant stream of traffic. But with azure blue sea, an amazing rugged coastline and lots of “oh, do you remember over there?”. Quickly distracted by inflatable sea floats, bronzed bods and the smell of coconut oil at every beach cove. It was a great drive.
Santo Stefano al Mare is located in the Province of Imperia in the Italian region Liguria. We stayed at the resort a couple of years ago and loved it, click here for our last visit. The sosta is €10 for 24 hours but no services. Its a quiet place with mainly Italian tourists, so what better place to stay to get back in to the swing of Italiano! Oh and for anyone that visits, the pay machine at the entrance is still broke from over 2 years ago (the working pay machine is near the bins).
Our Bumble paid sosta at Santo Stefano al Mare GPS position: N043.837033, E007.905576
The pale blue waters are rather fresh but just perfect to cool down on a sunny day. Since our last visit the majority of beach areas are now private, so no dogs allowed. We did manage to find a public section and Mac n Tosh enjoyed a day of digging followed by a toe dip but no surfing for the dudes.
Exploring Santo Stefano will take about an half an hour. Its tiny. You can stroll through its colourful streets, which retain their authentic feel. Its winding streets attract promenading locals and well dressed visitors. We joined the evening stroll with a call at the mandatory ice cream parlour. I do love a refreshing ice cream, its the highlight of any Italian tour.
On our second night we had a lovely meal at the beach restaurant. Great food, great wine and great company…my best pal, my rock, my hubby. Hard to believe that this time 30 years ago he got down on one knee and proposed.
To the left of the sosta is the entrance to the marina. Its harbour is filled with little fishing boats and pleasure yachts. The assorted jetties and piers around the harbour make an enjoyable stroll, watching the comings and goings of the boats. Its also a nice blend of ordinary folk with a splash of the high life guys to get you wondering how they earned their fortune.
On our 3rd day the sun went in hiding, so we took off for to a nearby ghost town.
It was only when we arrived and started to walk around the street did we start to appreciated the devastation that took place in this small village. The horrid tragedy that took place 130 years ago. In 1887 this little village was destroyed by an earthquake. At the time the earthquake struck over 2,000 residents were attending mass at the village church . The church collapsed and all the congregation died. Bussana was rebuilt further down the hill and the original village became known as Bussana Vecchia (old). Click to enlarge the photo
The ruins of the old stone village line the steep cobbled streets. The majority of the properties remain empty but the lower section is occupied by artist’s studios, galleries and a couple of cafes and shops. The streets are lined with plants, flowers and swallows nest. As you walk through the myriad of alleyways towards the top you can see a few illegal tenants. Its here you can also see the remains of the church.
After Bussana we nipped over to San Remo but swiftly departed to avoid a soaking. We got back to Vin just in time. The heavens opened and boy did it thunder. A few films on high volume followed by a glass or two of Lidl plonk.