The Alps, the Lakes, the Sea Part 2: From Milan to Turin via the sea

This is the continuation of the itinerary: The Alps, the Lakes, the Sea- Part 1 from Turin to Milan

the italian riviera cover small

The itinerary:

Milano: You should reserve at least two days to visit Milan, interesting is also the visit on foot to the center of Milan.

Milano - il Duomo
Milano – il Duomo – Photo © Silvia Massetti

Leaving Milan by the Ticinese Gate, we come, after a short 17 miles, to one of the most famous monuments in Italy, standing by itself in the open countryside: the CERTOSA DI PAVIA (charterhouse), founded by Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1396) as a fatuity mausoleum and completed during the Renaissance, which here reaches the loftiest expression it was to achieve in all of Lombardy.

Pavia: we continue then to Pavia, where we visit the city.

We leave Pavia, crossing the Ticino by the Covered Bridge (1354), rebuilt after the damage suffered during the last War. After some 13 miles, we reach Voghera, with its 14th century Castello Visconteo. At Tortona (24 miles), we take the Autostrada for Genoa and quickly cross the Apennines, following the valley of the Scrivia. Instead of going straight on to Genoa we will turn off at Busalla in order to extend our excursion to include the Giovi Pass and the towns of Casella, Laccia, and Carasco, and reach the Ligurian coast between Lavagna and Chiavari (42,5 miles from the Autostrada). And so we begin the third part of our trip, in the pleasant company of the cliffs and beaches which alternate along the Riviera di Levante. Standing on the hill north of Lavagna are the Gothic Basilica of San Salvatore di Cogorno, with its firm-set tower, and the 13th century Pisan-Gothic Palazzo dei Fieschi.

Passing Chiavari, we come upon a succession of limestone rocks and cliffs, interrupted by the lovely little beach of Zoagli. We are now at the outskirts of RAPALLO. From Rapallo, one of the most fatuous holiday towns on the Riviera, we can take the funicular railway up to see the magnificent view from the Madonna di Montallegro, or go (2 miles) and visit the romantic ruins of the Monastery of Santa Maria in Valle Christi.

Portofino from the Castle - Photo © R. Schmuck
Portofino from the Castle – Photo © R. Schmuck

The next day of our tour will be devoted to a relaxing trip around the lovely Tigullio Gulf. We shall stop at the Sanctuary of San Michele di Pagana, where there is a beautiful canvas by Van Dyck. Then by way of Santa Margherita we shall come to Portofino, a place of rare and famous beauty, with its fine natural harbor, the crystal clarity of its water, the variety of its vegetation and the constantly shifting range of its scenery.

After a leisurely visit, we shall leave Portofino and continue our journey westward, visiting San Lorenzo della Costa (superb Flemish Triptych in the Parrocchiale) and the entrancing little beach of San Fruttuoso (Abbey with an ancient cloister an the Tomb of the Dorias).

Genova: After passing through the seaside towns of Camogli and Recco, with their quaint fishermen’s houses, we reach Quarto dei Mille, and finally: Genova, the extremely ancient city of the Ligurians, those shepherd tribes who turned to the sea because of their geographic position.

Savona: The next morning, the last of our tour, we shall go along the Riviera di Ponente to Savona (29 miles). Passing through Pegli (Villa Rostan of the 16th century), Voltri (18th century Villa of the Duchessa di Galliera), Arenzano, with its broad beach. Varazze, a famous bathing resort with outstanding churches (Collegiata di S. Ambrogio, San Domenico), Celle Ligure, and Albisola (with the 18th century Villa Della Rovere) we finally reach Savona.

From Savona take the autostrada to Fossano, interesting for the 14th century Castle of the Princes of Acaia. Along this stretch of autostrada, already called the SavonaTurin note Ceva, Mondovi and Vicoforte with its famous Sanctuary (dome by Gallo); from Fossano, pass through Bra to ALBA with its beautiful Gothic Cathedral (wonderful inlaid work in the choir). From Alba, after 37 miles of road winding through attractive hill country, we reach Moncalieri, with its beautiful Royal Castle, and so back to Turin.

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