When we go on vacation and I make the reservations, we end up on B&Bs. They are sometimes fancy, sometimes not, but usually interesting, often funny and exciting places. When the husband makes the reservations, we stay in household name hotels, where you know exactly what the dining room will look like. That can be a comfort.
For our stay in the north-west part of Italy, I made reservations for us to stay in a place that seemed to be only a short distance from where our friends live. We would visit with them and also dip our toes in the Mediterranean Sea and mingle with the good folks of the nearby town. 2½ miles from town, it said in the description.
Considering that the area consists of narrow mountain roads, at times crowded with tiny Italian cars and too many Vespas to count, driven by those who clearly do not fear death. Further considering that the speed limit signs merely are suggestions and sharing the road means that three Vespas and motorcycles abreast are sharing the road of the oncoming traffic. Still, how difficult can it be? 2½ miles should be covered within five minutes, right?
Starting at sea level in the city of Ventemiglia, ascending more than 200 yards pretty much straight up, along tight switchbacks on a narrow road, we finally arrived at the very end of the road – Via Superiore!
The house where we had a room reserved is high above the coast, between San Remo, Italy, and The Principality of Monaco, in an area where Gelaterias are as common as burger joints in the US.
The warning signal went crazy when we backed out onto the road from our designated parking spot in Via Superiore. If you’re not a car aficionado, this means the car’s sensors warns against backing into a wall; that’s how steep the hill is.
Every night we had a swarm of no-see-ums visiting, resulting in long-lasting and very itchy bite marks. Looking back, we realized why the host sprayed some kind of lemony solution around his window frame before going to bed. Next time, I’ll remember to ask to borrow the spray bottle!
But all turned our well and our host, Giuseppe, invited us out onto his rooftop terrace and treated us to dinner with his homemade olive oil, homegrown tomatoes and home-stomped wine. An amazing view over the valley, a perfectly balmy breeze and an easygoing conversation almost made us forget the hazardly steep and narrow stairs that had to be navigated in order to reach our room two flights down.