Au Revoir France, Ciao Italy

Au Revoir France, Ciao Italy. I have to say goodbye to France but without regret. The weather was lovely, the scenery beautiful and the food delicious. Oh, the food…olives, tapenade, ratatouille, foie gras, cheese, macaroons, and wonderful wine.

After leaving Vence, my husband and I drove the coast road along the Cote d’Azur. The weather has been warm so there was a little haze in the air but otherwise perfect. Our last stop in France was the lovely border town of Menton. We walked along the strand where we marveled at the many beach clubs, bars and restaurants along the sand at the edge of the Mediterranean.

Menton, France

Ciao Italy. After crossing into Italy, we continued along the coast road. Coast road is actually a deceiving word, as so much of the time you are on a road that winds and twists its way through the coastal hills covered with olive trees and greenhouses. This area is a famous flower growing region.

My husband had a dream of finding the ultimate little seafood restaurant for lunch and we lucked into finding one in the small town of Ospedaletti, which is on the outskirts of San Remo. Spotting a sign for Restaurant Byblos, we headed down a step road that lead to the water. This was a truly wonderful discovery on the Ligurian Coast. We had no idea that it is a favorite restaurant of locals from San Remo and beyond and listed in the Michelin Guide. The restaurant is on the beach and all tables have a sea view. You can dine at tables both inside and outside.

Restorante Byblos

Byblos was my husbands dream come true. First, everyone was Italian…no tourist trap here. Second, the menu was totally seafood. For an appetizer, there was a warm salad of octopus and potatoes, dressed with local olive oil.

Warm Octopus and Potato Salad

Our main courses were frita misto (an assortment of fried fresh seafood) and a fresh pasta dish of prawns, zucchini and fresh tomato.

Frita Misto

Pasta With Shrimp, Zucchini and Tomato

Desserts were a milliflori stuffed with pastry cream, fresh peaches and strawberries and a canolli.

Dessert

After lunch, we hopped onto the Autostrata de Fiori and headed to our destination of Santa Margherita, Italy, and the Grand Hotel Miramare. The Miramare was one of the first grand hotels in Santa Margherita, converted from a villa in 1903.

Grand Hotel Miramare

Santa Margherita is a charming seaside town from a bygone era. It has a harbor filled with yachts and a small fishing fleet.

Wooden Fishing Boats and Yachts in the Harbor

There is an esplanade lined with palms, flowers, fountains and a carousel. People walk through town to the many cafes, gelateria, restaurants and bars that have tables laid out on the sidewalks.

Street Cafe

On one of the back streets that was closed to traffic, we found a small pizzeria run by a husband and wife who have set six small tables outside. After a large lunch, we shared a pizza of prosciutto and arugula for dinner accompanied by a carafe of local white wine. The perfect way to end our first day in Italy.

The town itself is located just a couple of miles away from the chic and expensive town of Portofino in one direction and some forty miles away from Cinque Terre in the other direction. Santa Margherita is a perfect place to stay, making day trips by car or the ferry.

We explored this section of the Ligurian Riviera before heading to Portofino. If you have the chance to visit this area…do not miss Portofino. The town is everything you have imagined Italy to be. From its high points, you look down at the turquoise water with small fishing boats and mega yachts anchored in the harbor.

Portofino Harbor

Homes, hotels, boutiques and cafes line the water and climb the hills above. Simply breathtaking!

Portofino

We met a lovely couple staying at our hotel that told us not to miss Restorante Puny in Portofino. It was also recommended by the Concierge at our hotel as a wonderful restaurant specializing in fresh seafood. Everyone was right in the recommendation. It was located in the heart of the piazza overlooking the harbor. We started with a frutti di mere, consisting of sliced small squid and prawns that was lightly dressed with local olive oil and lemon.

Frutti di Mare Appetizer

For a second course we had a pappardelle pasta that was special to the region. The sauce is a mixture of pesto and a fresh tomato cream sauce. The pasta was incredibly light and delicious.

Pappardella

Our main course was a fresh local sea bream that was baked in a crust of sea salt.

Whole Fish Baked in Sea Salt

After our waiter deboned with fish, it was dressed with olive oil.

Baked Fish Dressed With Olive Oil

I have had this dish before, but never this good. Of course, I had to try the house special dessert, which was an egg caramel custard similar to flan with raisins.

Dessert

I am sitting on the front terrace of our hotel this evening writing this post. The lights of Portofino are twinkling in the distance. Believe it or not, this is the only place that I can get WiFi. Here’s hoping that the WiFi will stay on long enough for me to publish. I hope you have enjoyed the trip so far. Our next stop on our journey will be Reggio Emilia.

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About Karen

I travel the back roads of New England and beyond, sharing great food and interesting places.
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61 Responses to Au Revoir France, Ciao Italy

  1. Fabulous looking food!

  2. Soo lovely! Italy looks like a dream…

  3. ceciliag says:

    Wow.. what a dream indeed and wonderful to eat where the locals eat, always a bonus and you get the best local food in places like that..c

  4. Gary Lum says:

    I’ve never travelled much. In terms of Europe I’ve only been to London for a work meeting for a few days. I’ve always thought I’d like to tour parts of Europe and focus on finding food. Your blog is inspirational.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gary, Thank you for your very nice comment. Hopefully you will have an opportunity to return to Europe and see a little more. I know you would love it.

  5. Kristy says:

    Sigh. (Not a bad sigh…but a sigh of longing.) Fabulous pictures! It’s as colorful and beautiful as I remember. And that pappardella! Yes please!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristy, Thank you for your lovely comment. The French and Italian Rivieras are so colorful. The natural beauty is just amazing. The pappardelle was so light and the flavor incredible.

  6. Just wonderful. Great looking food. I love stumbling across a great restaurants and the later finding out they’re of some acclaim or were actually in my guidebook. We stayed in a place in Glasgow and realized there was a nice restaurant across the interstate underpass, priceless.

  7. Food From Our Life says:

    Yummmmmmmmmmm Oh how I miss Italy! It’s simply the best! If you’re heading into Tuscany I can highly recommend Mario in Florence, it’s on the edge of the Mercarto Centrale and should be in your guide book, or the hotel you’re staying at will know it, you can’t book a table, but you wait and It is without question worth it! http://trattoria-mario.com/ I had the best Papa Pomedoro there, everything is wonderful, also if you can check out San Gimignano A gorgeous old villiage.
    Please eat some gelati for me xxx

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kate, Italy really is wonderful. We have been to Florence and San Gimignano several times but not heading that way on this trip. Heading up to Parma next. One gelato for you coming up.

  8. Lucky you! This looks fabulous. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  9. Hi Karen, this is a very nice post, the writing and the pictures are great (nothing to do with mine…) Enjoy your trip and drive safe.

  10. Ann says:

    Absolutely stunning! Would you believe I lived in Sicily for 3 years and never made it to Porto Fino? I’ve heard so much about it and your pictures are amazing! Isn’t the food absolutely delicious in Italy?

    Have fun and I can’t wait for the next installment!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ann, Thank you for your compliment. Oh, what a shame not to have gone to Portofino while living in Sicily. You must have had a wonderful three years there. Next installment coming from Parma.

  11. Karen Harris says:

    What a beautiful trip. The food just looks and sounds fabulous. I love Italy.

  12. You are killing me…a slow, slow death. I have tears in my eyes after these European dream trip posts. I am going to go walk my dog to regain my composure…in my very UN-European town. xxBliss

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bliss, You gave me a good laugh with that comment. Please don’t die on me…you are such a loyal reader. We are off to Parma for some cheese and prosciutto next.

  13. ChgoJohn says:

    This all sounds fantastic, the drive, towns, hotel, food, everything! Having been to Italy, it’s hard to describe its “assault” on your senses — but you’ve done a good job of it. Great post!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you John, for your lovely comment. You are right…it is an “assault” on the senses. I’m hoping that I let everyone get a true feel of the countries we are traveling too. Hopefully I will bring back some good memories for you along the way. Ciao.

  14. I love, love, love this post. Italy is one of my most favorite places. Your pictures make me crave it so much more. They also made me very hungry :) Thank you for sharing such a wonderful place and experience.

  15. roz says:

    What a beautiful photo tour of your trip! How fortunate that you have had such a wonderful trip! The food looks awesome too!

  16. Love the pictures! I will need to add these places to my travel list. Have fun.

  17. Thank you for writing this post..
    the pictures are breath taking and I enjoyed all the wonderful details :) looking forward to the rest of it

  18. Tandy says:

    what a lovely journey so far! I am adding to my list of places to see in Italy :)

  19. You are seeing a very rarefied view of the Mediterranean at the right time of the year. Restaurants overlooking the sea on the Italian coast are just about perfect. Enjoy.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Roger, You are right about this being the perfect time of the year to travel. I can’t imagine the traffic and mass of people in the summer. We like the end of September and the beginning of October for the pleasant temperatures as well. Hopefully, we will continue with the sunny days.

  20. Sue says:

    Karen-GORGEOUS POST (as usual!!)—and TWO questions….first, how do you eat such wonderful foods and NOT weigh 3000 pounds and second–will you adopt me??? LOL!
    You have the BEST life. I’m so glad I found your blog and get to “live” that life too!

  21. Lea Ann says:

    My gosh that food looks absolutely incredible. I’d really like the pasta and pesto, tomato cream sauce. And the scenery, breath taking.

  22. Monique says:

    Ahh we were in Menton also.. we eventually headed to Italy also..but not the same area..
    Loved the trip..
    You’re living luxury:) Wow~

  23. Charles says:

    Wow – not much to say but “wow”. You’re inspiring me to get out and see more of Europe! Loving the scenery and the food…. aaaah!

  24. What an amazing trip you are taking…and all the wonderful food! Do hope you continue to enjoy. Drive safely….being half Italian I know how they/we drive!

  25. karencooking says:

    Such beautiful photos, as always!

  26. Love your post, Karen. Years ago I visited Portofino and Santa Margherita and vividly remember how beautiful they are. And, oh, the food! It sounds like you had a lovely trip.

  27. spicegirlfla says:

    Your photos are stunning! The views are amazing, the food fabulous! I would have loved everything you ate!! Thanks for sharing your trip with us, makes me want to trave so badly!!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, Thank you for your lovely compliment. I am so happy you are enjoying the posts. Would you believe that we have not had a bad meal yet, not even average. The food and scenery have just been fantastic.

  28. ambrosiana says:

    Beautiful pictures, stunning places and delicious food! I hope you are enjoying your time in Italy!!!

  29. cabinet stew says:

    Wow! I have now checked in to look at this particular post 3 times and I made one of the pics my desktop. (The one of Portofino harbor – you know the one with MY yacht!)
    I have been to Italy but not those areas. Clearly I need to plan another trip!!
    As for the food…mama mia!! I don’t even eat fish but I am ready to now after seeing those pics!!! YUM!!

    • Karen says:

      You love my posts…I love your comments. Now I know who to see the next time I want to cruise the Med…your yacht was magnificent! It took up half the harbor. As for the fish, believe me you would have love it.

  30. Mary says:

    Amazing pictures! I actually have the recipe for the salt crusted baked fish on my site. It was so delicious when we made it, but the atmosphere of Italy I’m sure made it even more divine. Enjoy!

  31. Michael donofrio says:

    I hope to go some day, enjoy love mike

  32. Pingback: Ciao Italia – Our Last Day In Italy | Back Road Journal

  33. Candace says:

    You are living my dream. Thank you for sharing it all with us. Simply fantastic!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Candace, Thank you for your great comment. I’m happy to share my experiences and I hope you get to live you dream of traveling to Europe.

  34. Pingback: A Salad Of Warm Potatoes, Mussels And Shrimp | Back Road Journal

  35. viveka says:

    Lovely … can feel the smell of garlic through the screen now.

  36. bellasabroad says:

    Hi Karen, I am so glad that you referred your Warm potato salad post to this post. As I am planning my own trip to France and Italy, you have given me some more to think about with regards to places to visit, and of course eat at!
    Merci, and Grazie Mille! Trina

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bella, I know that you will have a wonderful time on your trip. You might like to look at several of my posts from our trip last year to see a little more about France and Italy. Please feel free to ask questions on any place that we might have visited. I will look forward to your posts when you are back from your trip.

  37. Pingback: Spaghetti Alla Portofino | Back Road Journal

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