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Buongiorno from Italy - Again!

"It is a place that ‘grows upon you’ every day. There seems to be always something to find out in it. There are the most extraordinary alleys and by-ways to walk about in. You can lose your way (what a comfort that is, when you are idle!) twenty times a day, if you like....” — Charles Dickens (on Genoa), Pictures from Italy

Buongiorno from Genoa and the five-star Grand Hotel Savoia! I arrived Sunday and am having such a lovely time courtesy of the tourism offices of Italy and Liguria, the northwestern coastal region I'm touring before Discover Italy, a workshop of info and appointments with Italian tourism colleagues. My small group on the Liguria "pre-tour" spent a clear-blue, sunny morning yesterday traveling along Italy's Western Riviera to Sanremo, just shy of the French border. Sanremo is a wealthy town with high-end shops and inevitable French influences (like its casino - extremely rare in Italy), and both English and French are also widely spoken here. We enjoyed a walking tour of Sanremo with a local guide and lunch by its yacht-filled marina before heading next to Finalborgo, where I took this joyful selfie.

I fell in love with Finalborgo! It's a small, quiet, Medieval village nestled in a valley and still housed entirely within its 15th century walls where no vehicles can enter. Quaint, narrow lanes are dotted with small cafes, Italian food shops, and surprisingly a Michelin-starred restaurant, Ai Torchi. Our group of 24 separated to wander a while on our own after an orientation walk and visit inside the impressive baroque-style Church of Saint Biagio. Finalborgo is so compact, we'd often cross paths with each other, and I had the best time imagining I was a local who kept running into friends around each corner.

Disovering off-the-beaten-track places like Finalborgo is one of the reasons I love to travel, and I know it is for you too. I posted some photos of Sanremo and Finalborgo yesterday on Nine Muses Travel's Facebook and Instagram. Please check them out and follow for more photos to come....

Today begins with a walking tour through the alleys of Genoa's historic center and includes its old port, Cathedral of San Lorenzo, and the UNESCO World Heritage Rolli Palaces. The afternoon takes us to Santa Margherita Ligure and finally my first visit to Portofino! I'm so excited for tomorrow too when we'll take a boat from Levanto to Riomaggiore to see all Cinque Terre from the sea, before we change our accommodations for two nights at Grand Hotel Torre Fara in Chiavari.

Italy is hugely popular with our Nine Muses Travel community, and that's why I return here often - to best serve you with first-hand knowledge, experiences, and in-person connections to local contacts. All day Thursday I'll be in Sestri Levante attending meeitngs at our workshop, so send me all your questions about Italy, and if I can't answer, I'll be surrounded by people who can! Ciao for now!



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