Finally Made it to Italy! - Arrived in Imperia with side trip to Genoa - Sept 12 - 19, 2017


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Europe » Italy » Liguria » Imperia
September 19th 2017
Published: April 13th 2018
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Sept 12 – Sept 19

We left the Nice marina as planned on the afternoon of September 12th. The plan was do an 18 hour overnight passage to Genoa. The weather predictions looked like it would be a pretty good trip with a little bit of strong winds and bumpy seas in the beginning. Well, we got out there and it wasn't pleasant at all - winds were much stronger and "on the nose" instead of where they were predicted and the sea surge was giving us about 5-6 feet waves from the stern so we were being tossed around quite a bit. We tried to adjust our point of sail, but nothing seemed to help as we felt more like being in a washing machine and didn’t really want to go too far out of our way. There had been strong winds earlier in the day and the seas did not look like they were going to settle (or be from only one direction). We looked at each other and said “this isn’t fun” so we saw a small bay just before St Jean Cap Ferrat where lots of boats were anchored (and many of the big guys as well!) so we changed course and anchored behind the protection of some land. We still had the wind which was fine, but we are hidden from most of the sea surge thankfully. We have learned to have at least plan A, B & C in place when it comes to dealing with the wind and sea. We were happy to have stayed overnight here thanks to the protective cove we found. Those charts definitely come in handy in finding places to “tuck” into for an overnight.

The next morning the winds and seas had calmed down enough that we pulled up anchor, but instead of heading to Genoa we had changed our plans again. We looked at the forecast and it appeared that we were going to be in for some more bad weather so started calling around to see where we could find a space in a marina along the coast. We are finding that many in this area are full and you need to book ahead, but with the change in the weather, plans change and it makes it difficult to book. Fortunately we found that the marina in Imperia had openings and we had read in our books that we could get public transportation to Genoa so sounded like a good place to stop for a few days.

On our way to Imperia we sailed past Monaco so had a chance to see where we had been before but from the sea. We hadn’t taken the time to visit the Oceanographic Institute in Monaco which was founded by Prince Albert I, but got a closer look at the building. It is very impressive and even more so when you realize that the “Temple of the Sea” as it is sometimes called was opened in 1910. Going along this coastline we saw many of those mega-yachts traveling by as well, but with their power, the seas and winds were no challenge for them!

We got to the Imperia Marina and received help from the staff in tying up which is always appreciated. It seemed that many boats were arriving in order to hold out here for a few days of bad weather that was predicted. The first afternoon we took a hike around viewing some of the homes and enjoying the views from this hillside village.

As Imperia is our first stop in Italy
Winds Were Still Kicking Up the WavesWinds Were Still Kicking Up the WavesWinds Were Still Kicking Up the Waves

when we got outside the Nice harbor
we now had to deal with some of the bureaucracy of visiting a foreign country. We knew that we were to obtain a document called a “Constituto” in the first port we arrived in when coming to Italy which we then would have to show at each port we travel to. That didn’t sound too bad, but… first we had to find the correct office and it seemed that no one we spoke to understand what we needed. Finally we were directed to the Guardia Costiera office. By the time we actually got the paperwork we had made quite a few trips to this office. First time we went we were told we had to come back when the person in charge was in. When we returned it seemed that many were not quite sure about providing us with this form, BUT eventually we did get to the right person and the form was signed and given to us. We have to admit everyone we dealt with in the office was very pleasant and trying very hard to accommodate our needs – we were just happy that we planned on being in Imperia for a few days as it did
Anchored Near St Jean Cap Ferrat - Anchored Near St Jean Cap Ferrat - Anchored Near St Jean Cap Ferrat -

glad we were able to get some protection here
take some time before we became “legal” in Italy!

Now to do some exploring. We found out that this area is actually made up of two villages, that of Imperia and the other of Ongelia. The more touristic part is Imperia while Ongelia is devoted more to the production of olives and flowers. The Imperia River separates these two areas, but are definitely in walking distance of each other so took time to explore both while we were here.

One of the first days we were here the street market was held – we always like the market so hiked around town (up and down the hills of Imperia), but found that most of that day’s market was for clothes and household items with a small section of fresh fruits and vegetables. It really didn’t matter as it was a good way to wander around the town and get some well needed exercise.

The winds definitely picked up while we were in the marina and we were very happy with our decision to stop here. They have a huge break wall that we were behind so had great protection. As a result many times we would have the false feeling that things had calmed down, but all you had to do was pop over the break wall to see the waves continuing to crash in and in some places actually over the wall. We did find that there were numerous wind surfers that were delighted with the weather – we were just as happy to watch them from the safety of being on shore.

Getting to Genoa was still high on our list, but as it is located quite deep into the bay here we decided that it would be smarter to use our time to take the train for a day trip to Genoa rather than sail there. In this way when we finally left Imperia we could cut diagonally across the bay saving us quite a bit of time as we were still pushing to try to get to Gaeta (our over-wintering location) as close to October 1 as possible.

We always enjoy traveling by train so that is never a hardship; in fact, it is a great way to travel and with it skirting the coastline it was a very scenic one as well.

Just as you get out of the
The Temple of the Sea in Monaco opened in 1910The Temple of the Sea in Monaco opened in 1910The Temple of the Sea in Monaco opened in 1910

and now houses the Oceanographic Institute
train station you are greeted by a huge statute of one of Genoa’s most famous resident, Christopher Columbus. Yes, definitely lots of controversy over his “discovery” as the Americas had been visited previously by others, but he is still known for his four voyages across the Atlantic and his determination to find a direct water route west from Europe to Asia.

Walking through Genoa you can still see that there was plenty of wealth here. The Strade Nuove (new streets) is known as the one that housed the most prestige and powerful families during the “Golden Age” (1557-1627). As a result walking down Via Garibaldi street you pass by very sumptuous late-Renaissance and Baroque buildings. A few you can actually pass through their entrance to get a view of the interior courtyards and magnificent staircases. We learned that the building of this street was designed with one purpose in mind, that of offering accommodations to illustrious guests and noblemen’s on state visits to the city of Genoa. There was a list of aristocratic residences that would open their homes to host important visitors therefore these homes were known for their luxury, size and beauty. Guess you can think of
The Marina in Imperia Is Well ProtectedThe Marina in Imperia Is Well ProtectedThe Marina in Imperia Is Well Protected

and convenient as a base to explore
these as “high end” bed and breakfast, but without having to pay for them!

We visited the black and white striped Church of San Lorenzo which was Genoa’s cathedral in 985. It like other cathedrals that we have visited took several centuries to complete as it was consecrated in 1118 and had numerous additions made in the 13th and 14th centuries. The black and white stripes were added in the 13th century and the two towers were added in the 15th century. With all of these changes, there is quite a mixture of styles to see here.

We wandered down to the port that has been renovated and now has a wonderful pedestrian walkway with some signage about the history of the area. One of the most distinct features is a very large white crane that “springs” out of the water and holds up a panoramic lift that rotates 360 degrees providing a view over the city. The marina that we would have entered is here which can handle the smallest of boats as well as the cruise ships that arrive here on a regular basis. They have left a few of the old lifts that were used
Views of the Coastline Between Nice, FranceViews of the Coastline Between Nice, FranceViews of the Coastline Between Nice, France

and Imperia, Italy - pretty impressive!
to load the freight ships that came into this port regularly as well. It was nice to see them incorporate some of the old with the new so people can better understand some of the history of the port.



There was a replica of a 17th C. Spanish galleon located here as a tourist attraction. The “Neptune” was built in 1985 for Roman Polanski’s film, “Pirates”. We understand it is a very accurate replica above the waterline, but has a steel hull and 400 HP engine below. When walking over to this side of the port we had a chance to see the Lanterna (lighthouse) which is quite famous along this coast line. It stands 76 meters (249 feet) tall and fortunately there was a cruise ship in port that you could see as you looked at the lighthouse giving you a better appreciation of the height. We found out that the lighthouse was last rebuilt in 1543 and is still standing tall over the harbor as a very important navigational aid.



After walking the entire day around Genoa we hopped back on the train and returned to Imperia in time to see the sunset as well as the hillside village lit up with the evening lights. A very full but enjoyable day. A great way to continue our exploration of the area and still have Tsamaya safely tucked away in a very protected marina.



When we asked people at the marina what there was to see here (yes, there wasn’t a tourist information office to ask!) we were told that we should go to the Olive Museum and the Grock Museum. We didn’t know much about either one, but as it was a pleasant walk to Oneglia we figured we would take in both places. On the walk over we went past the other marina here and that is where many of the mega-yachts stay. Had a chance to talk to a couple of the captains’ of these and find out the details of what they have on board, their hull speed, tankage and average “miles per gallon” – our sailboat definitely fits into our budget much better than any of these with the numbers they were throwing around at us!



We decided to head to the Museo dell ‘Olivo Carlo Carli first. I know when I first mentioned it to Bob he wasn’t quite sure he wanted to go as didn’t think there would be too much to it, but we were both very glad we went. We would definitely recommend it to anyone in the area. It is a museum but also a working olive oil plant complete with a retail store and a restaurant. The restaurant was unique in that you sat on bar stools around a kitchen area and are offered fixed dishes served with wine. They start out with 2 different choices of appetizer, then 2 choices of pasta dishes and another 2 choices of dessert with each course using products that they sell in their retail store. It was very enjoyable as we had a nice chat with the people sitting next to us as well. We hadn’t planned on buying anything, but of course that idea went out the window. Guess the only thing that helped the budget was knowing that we would have to carry anything we bought back with us.



What impressed us about the museum was the way they covered all aspects - everything from how the olive is grown, the tools used for collection, the stages of the process of pressing (both ancient and modern), the many uses of the olive and the importance of the olive throughout history. The owners of the plant also have a very impressive collection of glass oil lamps and cruets that they have collected over the years with many dating back to ancient times.



With having lunch there we were well into the afternoon, but we decided to still try to take in the other museum that was recommended, the Grock Museum. On a map it didn’t look too far, but found that most of the walk was up very steep hills and we now were carrying a few bottles of olive oil with us making those hills seem even steeper. Grock we found out was born in Switzerland in 1880, but passed away in Imperia in 1959. His home which he built in the 1920’s was transformed into the museum giving us a clue into his life. He was a clown, a composer and musician. He was known as “the King of Clowns” and was one of the most highly paid entertainers in the world when he was at his prime. He combined
Postings of Deaths Are Located on Public SignagePostings of Deaths Are Located on Public SignagePostings of Deaths Are Located on Public Signage

around the town - instead of reading in a newspaper
the use of pantomime with musical blunders which as he stated could be done due to his knowledge of music. He would compose the pieces that he used to evoke various reactions in his audience. He produced numerous movies and they had a few running so we could get a taste of his work. In some ways it reminded us of Victor Borge who also was a talented musician that used these skills in his comedy acts. It is interesting to note that Victor Borge was known as “the Clown Prince of Denmark”.



Grock had a love of plants and he incorporated a wonderful garden with a pond and oriental style bridge, outbuildings with beautiful marble tiling and wonderful spaces in which to entertain. We had a chance to tour through some of the 50 rooms, but it was unfortunate for us that they had run out of English tour books and nothing was noted in English so know we missed out on many of the details. Even with that we could tell that there were many elements that went into the planning of his shows – everything from the use of various musical notes and colors for a particular effect and the transformations that were created with his makeup and costumes.



It was a very full day of walking around Oneglia and we were definitely ready to get back to the boat that evening. We found that there is quite a bit to explore if your travels ever bring you to this area of Italy.



As we arrived in Imperia on September 13 we decided that we had explored the area quite well and more importantly the winds and seas had calmed down enough that we could move on the next day, September 20th. It was a longer stay than we thought in the area, but for being a make-shift plan in the beginning it worked out quite well. One of the regulations we had read about having the “Constituto” now is that we are to check in as well as check out of each of the ports we are in Italy. With that in mind, we took a walk back to the Guardia Costiera to have our paperwork stamped that we were leaving. With the paperwork done, we were ready to move to the next destination of Pisa.


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