I am the guest of my friends Riccardo and Marina again, and, as usual, they are the perfect host and hostess. Riccardo had planned tours of the area, and Marina cooked more of her delicious Liguarian dishes, including a couple of favorites from my last visit.
On Saturday, Riccardo and I toured some small towns in the Nervia Valley. Our first stop was Pigna, a small hill town of only 930 or so people, named for the coniferous trees that surround it. There wasn't much to see, but I always enjoy walking around these little mountain hamlets, just to soak up the local color.
And photograph the town cats.
And the town fountain.
With its unusual spouts.
Per usual, there is always a church to visit--here the Church of San Michelle.
With a zoom in, you can see Saint Michael dispatching the devil.
And inside this one, there were some treasures to be found. This is a polyptych created by the famous Italian painter Giovanni Canavesio in 1500.
This colorful Madonna looked sad-eyed to me, but Riccardo saw astonshment.
There were also several beautiful stained glass windows.
There are sulphur springs here, and someone decided this would be a great place to build a spa, but it didn't look like business was very brisk. Who wants to sleep in a place that smells like rotten eggs?
From Pigna, there is a wonderful view of another small hill town, Castel Vittorio, perched higher on the mountain. There are only about 400 people who live here.
In a store selling local products, I saw bags of Pigna beans that sold for 10 euro a half kilo--thats about $13 USD for about 1.1 pounds. Those must be really good beans. The store wasn't open, or I would have been tempted to buy some.
We ended our valley tour with a quick look at the small town of Buggio, population around 70.
Including the town of Isolabona, which we drove though, and the towns we toured on my last visit, Riccardo says I can now claim to have seen every hamlet in the Nervia Valley!
Saturday evening, we were dinner guests of Angelica, Riccardo's friend from language school, and her mother, Bea, whose work of art I showed on a blog from trip here in June. I wish I spoke better Italian, because I would love to learn more about the life of this intelligent, talented woman--I feel a great affinity with her, and I can't even explore it beause of my limited language skills. I felt honored that she remembered that I was returning to Liguria this month and extended this gracious invitation.