Cycling in Italy #2 – Imperia to Cervo

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

We arrive in Imperia around 4 pm after our day’s cycling from Sanremo to San Lorenzo just in time for an ice-cream. It’s seems a strange name for a city to me, but it turns out it was created in 1923 by Mussolini when a number of towns and villages were amalgamated, including Oneglia and Porto Maurizio. As a result, it is very spread out. We are trying to find a book for our travel journal but so far, we’ve had no luck. Fine stationery doesn’t seem to be part of the Italian culture any more.

First view of Imperia from the car. It is practically impossible to stop along the road to take decent photos.

First view of Imperia from the car. It is practically impossible to stop along the road to take decent photos.

The ice-cream lady gives me directions in Italian to a libreria/cartoleria and we head up the hill to the old town of Parasio. At the top, we come upon the classical cathedral of San Maurizio, built between 1781 and 1832, and the largest church in Liguria. It stands out impressively on a large square opposite the town hall. Still no sign of a bookshop, so I guess that I have misunderstood the directions. We finally locate it but it only has a few exercise books.

Saint Maurizio Cathedral

Saint Maurizio Cathedral

We later come across a small news-agency where we manage to buy some plain white paper. We can always glue it into a book later. The next stop is the supermarket as we will be staying in an apartment for two nights. We have fun playing with a bread-roll-ejecting machine where the bread drops on the ground if you don’t put a plastic bag under it, and then choose some Italian wine.

The sophisticated breadroll-delivering machine

The sophisticated breadroll-delivering machine

The drive to the apartment, which is 6 km from the centre and up a somewhat sinuous hill, is easy in comparison with our previous experience and we are in a good mood when our hostess comes out to greet us with many smiles and some very basic English. She shows us the apartment which is nothing luxurious but has everything we need. There is even a washing machine downstairs we can use. The view, not quite as stunning as yesterday’s, is still pretty impressive – despite the motorway!

The view of Imperia from our balcony

The view of Imperia from our balcony

We drink pinot griggio and eat pistachios on the balcony listening to the old-fashioned dance music coming up from the valley below before having a tomato, cucumber, lettuce, octopus and prawn salad with fresh basil supplied by our hostess. When in Italy, we often buy marinated octopus to picnic on, but this time it’s a little tough.

Watching the locals having their Sunday coffee and pastry

Watching the locals having their Sunday coffee and pastry

After a good night’s sleep, we wake up late and drive into town for a cappuccino. Today’s a rest day, something we’re not very good at, but we have discovered we really need one from time to time. We park in the middle of town and head for the tourist office. It’s not open so we have our cappuccino at a confetteria under the arcades and amuse ourselves watching the locals.

Porto Maurizio with its bike path on the right

Porto Maurizio with its bike path on the right

We then wander around until we reach the port and, what do we see – a bike path! We head back to the car, take our bikes off the back and soon join the other Sunday cyclists. We have no idea how far it goes.

A private seafront pool

A private seafront pool

The coastline is the usual mix of public and private beaches and eating places.

Typical Liguria view

Typical Liguria view

Eventually we find ourselves on a disused road that takes us to the next beach – Diano Marina – where, surprisingly there is a tourist office open with four young girls twiddling their thumbs. We check the tourist brochures and see that the next hilltop village along the waterfront, Cervo, is worth a visit.

The entrance to Cervo

The entrance to Cervo

After Diano Marina, the bike path gives out and we have to ride on the road for a bit, but it isn’t too busy. By now we’re starting to get hungry and Jean Michel thinks we should find somewhere to eat before going up to the top of Cervo. I check out a couple of places but I’m not keen despite the sea view so suggest we try and find something on top of the hill.

Taverna Mangorla's little terrace

Taverna Mandragola’s little terrace

A mammoth effort takes us up a very steep road which is only halfway up to the top. We stop to get our breaths and have some water and I see a little restaurant terrace with no one on it. I check round the other side and see it’s a real restaurant called Taverna Mandragola. The chef comes out opposite our terrace for a smoke (they still smoke a lot in Italy, we have noticed) so I ask if we can eat there. “No worries, Signora”, he says in Italian (well, that’s what it sounds like). We attach our bikes and a friendly waitress arrives.

We have a delicious lunch of linguine alle vongole for me and sword fish for Jean Michel, accompanied by a very cold white friulano.

Bougainvillea and seaview

Bougainvillea and seaview

The chef says we can leave our bikes there and walk up to the top of the hill. We are enchanted with the little alleyways and covered streets and masses of bougainvilleas.

The baroque church of Saint John the Baptist

The baroque church of Saint John the Baptist

We finally reach the lovely baroque church of Saint John the Baptist. If we hadn’t already had our coffee, I would have elected to join the other people under the white parasols.

The very inviting piazza in front of the church

The very inviting piazza in front of the church

As we walk back down by another route, we come across Saint Catherine’s Oratory with a surprising statue of Joan of Arc against a backdrop of frescoes.

Joan of Arc with a backdrop of frescoes

Joan of Arc against a backdrop of frescoes

The return trip is much easier as it’s mostly downhill. By now, there are quite a few more people on the esplanade but it’s still navigable because most of the population is sunbaking under their matching umbrellas.

The view from our balcony in the other direction

The view from our balcony in the other direction

A quick ice-cream and we’re soon back at the car after a round trip on our bikes of 20 K and ready for a couple of hours of R&R back at the apartment in front of that wonderful view again!

Other posts on cycling in Italy

Cycling in Italy #1 – Sanremo to San Lorenzo

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
This entry was posted in Architecture, Cycling, Italy, Travelling and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Cycling in Italy #2 – Imperia to Cervo

  1. Helen says:

    I’m glad you broke the rest day rules. Fantastic views.
    Helen recently posted…Proserpine and the WhitsundaysMy Profile

    • Rosemary Kneipp says:

      Thank you! I didn’t do justice to many of them though. I was more careful with my photography today 🙂

  2. Pingback: Cycling in Italy #3 – Crema to Soncino : Never again! | Aussie in France

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge