Friday, September 22, 2017

Verrezzi, Italy

I only found Verezzi because my mom's first cousin grew up there. It is very hard to find unless you know where you are going. I would suggest using an application such as Google Maps to make it easier. In general it is between Finale Ligure and Pietre Ligure on the coast and Bardino in the hills.

Once you are there you are in for a pleasant surprise. The village itself is beautiful but it also has, in my opinion, the best view of the coast. There are actually four separate villages that make up Verezzi: Crosa, Piazza, Poggio and Roccaro. It is Poggio that is the main tourist center and also the reason that Verezzi is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. It is on the hill in old Verezzi where you will find the historic monuments as well as great views across Borgia, which is on the coast, and the Riviera di Ponente. The center of Verezzi is Piazzetta Sant'Agostino, surrounded by ancient buildings and from where you can enjoy the views and also see the traditional stone arcades. The town has an Arabic look and feel. My mom's cousin told me the area used to be hotspot for pirates.

My opinion is when you visit Italy there are always the mainstays of Rome, Florence, Venice, Pizza, etc. If you are willing to look a little harder you will find gems like this where there is a lot of history and you aren't fighting the normal crowds. If you can, go to the bigger cities first and finish your visit to Italy with a visit to the Liguria area or Lake Como and relax before you go home.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Church in Bardino Nuovo

Sometimes you come across something absolutely beautiful in an unexpected place. For years I have been visiting my family in Bardino Nuovo and always wanted to go inside the church but it was always locked when I tried. This trip I happened to be there right before a mid-week mass and the door was unlocked. Walking into this tiny church in a town with a population in the hundreds and seeing the beautiful paintings and architecture was amazing. 

I don't think I've given a history lesson on Bardino so here you go. The village was founded in the Middle Ages and was owned by the bishops of Albenga. Later the village was given as a fief to Bonifacio del Vasto. In the 12th century Bardino Nuovo was the land of the Del Carretto family, the Lords of Savona.

Since 1713 Bardino Nuovo was part of the Republic of Genoa. 1797 the village was incorporated into the First French Empire. That is why some of my relatives talked of themselves as French-Italian. In 1815 the village was part of the Kingdom of Sardinia until it was incorporated in the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. In 1928 the two communities of Bardino Vecchio and Bardino Nuovo were united as one land.

The parish church of St. Sebastian was built up during 1681-1708 and has the Baroque style.From the church square you have a wonderful  view over the entire valley and Mediterranean Sea. 

The famous bell tower clock museum by Giovanni Batista Bergallo is also worth visiting. It was opened in 1997 in the former town hall. 

The bell tower is still in use and is very accurate as I can attest. Some nights I woke up every hour and counted the chimes. I guess it takes time to get used to the bells going off. 

How to get there. Bardino Nuovo is roughly located between Genoa and Monaco on E80 in the Liguria Region. Take the Finale Ligure exit off of E80 and drive up the hill on SS490 until you get to Via Costino. Turning left you will drive through smaller towns including Bardino Vecchio on to Bardino Nuovo. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Copenhagen Walking Tour

While in Copenhagen this August I took my cousin Sandy and friends on a walking tour. We started at Rosenborg Castle with a self-guided tour of the castle and treasury (see prior post). From there we walked to the palace and out to the harbor where walking to the left along the water we found the Little Mermaid and one of my favorite fountains of a Norse Goddess. After lunch we walked to Our Savior Church and walked to the top. The view is one of the best in Copenhagen as you can see 360 degrees. I have to admit that I didn't make it to the top as it spirals around the steeple on the outside and the steps get progressively smaller. I have a problem with heights and only made it 3/4 of the way up. By the time we came down it was time to get ready for dinner and drinks later on.

If you want more information on a walking tour of Copenhagen check out my prior posts from other trips.

Copenhagen is a perfect city for walking or biking. I saw some people buying transit passes which I think are a waste of money. The center of the city is all available by walking. Use transit only if you want to see some of the outlying areas.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Danish Open Faced Sandwiches

If you want to try a typical Danish meal then try Smorrebrod, or open faced sandwiches. There are many combinations and ingredients to try. My favorite place, other than at the house with family, is The Standard in Copenhagen. I took Sandy, Don, Cheryl and Leo there this trip to sample the great food and enjoy the fantastic view. The Standard is close to Nyhavn and is on the water in the old ferry building. You can sit outside when the weather is nice and enjoy a view of the waterway and the part of the city on the other side. For those of you that know Noma, either the top ranked restaurant or close to the top in the world, it is owned by the same person.

To get there, go to Nyhavn and walk to the opening of the channel, walk to the right and it is a block away in a green building on the water.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Lolland, Denmark

My family lives on Lolland, an island in Denmark about an hour and a half from Copenhagen and accessible by E47. If you continue from Lolland on E47 you will take a ferry to Puttgarden, Germany. The ferry ride is about 45 minutes. I had been hearing that a bridge was in the works to connect Lolland and Germany but on this trip I learned that it is going to be a tunnel and work is ready to begin. Once the tunnel is complete it will be an easy route to get from Norway and Sweden through Denmark and to mainland Europe.

Lolland itself is a small island with mainly farm land with the sugar beet crop being the largest. There is a sugar processing plant in nearby Falster. The area is very slow paced with small cities and towns. Some of the best beaches are located in Lolland and Falster. Merielyst Strand and the beach at Lollandia are some of the best in Denmark. Where before there were shipyards for building ferries now those same yards are building the wind mills you see scattered throughout the countryside in Europe.

I love to get out of the big city, Copenhagen, and make the beautiful short drive to Lolland. Lolland is like going back in time where the pace is slower and the countryside reminds you of a day gone past. Especially during the sugar beet harvest season when the cars can get stuck behind a slow moving tractor pulling a wagon full of beets.

One of my favorite places to visit is Nysted, new town, and it's harbor. The massive Aalholm Castle (Aalholm Slot ), built ca. 1200, dominates the view from the harbor at Nysted. For over 1,000 years this stronghold has tried to protected the town's citizens. It is one of the oldest, preserved Middle Ages fortresses in Denmark. If I were to retire in Denmark my dream would be to live in one of the houses facing the harbor. In the harbor there is a monument from WWII for an American bomber that was shot down killing all on board.

My grandfather was born not far from Nysted in Herritslev and the house is still standing. I have some family in Nysted and Herritslev but the bulk are in the Holeby/Maribo area. I love visiting my relatives and having dinner. This time I took my cousin Sandy and Don and we had a huge dinner with as many relatives as we could get together. To me these family trips are the best part of the trip.

Lolland and Falster are not tourist destinations but there is still a lot to see from beautiful castles and manors to some of the best beaches in Denmark. If you have the time and want to relax I would definitely recommend see the area.  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Rosenborg Castle

If you are in Copenhagen I would recommend going to Rosenborg Castle. You not only get a self guided tour of the castle but you also have access to the Treasury where the Crown Jewels are stored. During the summer lines to buy tickets can be long. If you have a smartphone there is an app where you can buy your tickets online for a specific entry window. I would suggest you do that as it will save you a lot of time. There are signs posted with instructions.

The castle and grounds are beautiful. Take your time in each room. The treasury itself is worth the price. One side has the Crown Jewels and the other displays gifts from other country. For you Americans you will see a pistol set from Abraham Lincoln.  As you can understand, security is very tight. Please be aware of your surroundings.

Throne Room

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Kronborg Castle, Denmark

I have been going to Denmark for years and I always like giving a tour of Copenhagen and the surrounding area to friends that have never been there before. This year I was able to meet my cousin Sandy and Don in Copenhagen to introduce them to our Danish relatives.

I was able to take them to Kronborg Castle where we had a pleasant surprise. Kronborg Castle is also known as Hamlet's Castle as Shakespeare used the castle as his location for his play, Hamlet. In August the tour of the castle also includes actors playing roles from the play in the room it was intended to be in. As you are walking around you may find yourself watching a scene from Hamlet in a bedroom, grand hall or in the courtyard. It was a great experience so if you are in Denmark in August make sure you visit the castle.

The castle itself is built in Helsingor and is at the narrowest part of the straight between Denmark and Sweden. Denmark used to make ships passing through the straight pay a tax. You not only get a tour of a real working castle but also an incredible view of Helsingor and Sweden on the other side of the straight. Go to the top of the tower for the best view.

Also, you can tour under the castle where the soldiers lived. It wouldn't be the most pleasant place to live as it is very dark and damp. This is also where Holger Danske lives. Holger is the protector of Denmark and whenever Denmark needs him he will come to life to  protect the country.

The castle opens at 10 am and you can make it a day touring the castle and grounds or you can tour the nearby Frederiksborg Castle about a half hour away by car.