Hello moms and dads! Many of you must be enjoying the beach, while others are in the back-to-school thing already. Well, we are still in a (very) summer mood, as this is vacations period in Southern Europe and schools are still far from opening. Fancy any idea for a summer long weekend? If you are still planning to be away at least one week, you should immediately have a look at our guest blogger story about her car trip through Italy, touching Tuscany, Elba and Ischia island. If you are rather considering a couple of family days, here you have the perfect solution for relaxing. Yes, you understood correctly: relaxing. And no, you shouldn’t bring your nanny with you. Sounds to good to be true? It’s not, if you know the best spots of Italian and French Riviera.
First of all: what do we exactly mean by Riviera? Many of you, mainly the Brits, are very familiar with this part of the World. It has an Italian part (Italian or Ligurian Riviera), corresponding to Liguria region (bordering Tuscany eastward and France westward). The French part (French Riviera: if you wanna be cool, you should advance the accent from the “e” to the final “a” when pronouncing it) corresponds to Cote d’Azur and extends from Toulon on the west and Italy on the east. Quite a lot of places, where should we exactly go for our weekend? Let’s start from the Italian side!
Liguria is per se very long. I’m quite an expert of it because I was born in the region capital, Genoa. Eastward (Genoa to Spezia), you can find rocky beaches, some glamorous spots (Portofino, Santa Margherita) and amazing nature (Cinque Terre), but I strongly recommend to go in spring time or in September/October. The area to the West of Genoa has overtime turned into a paradise for families, at any time of the year. Some villages in particular, have focused on family-friendly tourism. This means that in some places you just see parents with children, grandpas with grandchildren (especially in June), nannies and kids. The population segment from 18 to 35 years old is inexistent or, at least, statistically insignificant. This is why, you parents have chances to vacation in the very sense of the word. This area is very crowded in summer, but, we have been touring the very Western part, few miles away from France, and we are convinced that it is the place to be with your kids. So, just read our suggestion and book your flight to Nice airport and the quick Eurocity train Thello, which serves the Italian coastal towns that we are talking about.
We are frequent visitors of Imperia, Diano Marina, San Bartolomeo beach, but what we are going to write holds also for Sanremo and Bordighera areas, which are even less crowded (and closer to France, which to me is an enormous plus). Why are these places a kiddos kingdom? Easy!
Beach facilities. If you are beach bums, you are in the right place. This part of the Italian Riviera features beaches with playing grounds areas instead of beach bars with music. At San Bartolomeo beach we even found a parking slot for strollers. You can both find free areas and organized ones with sun chairs and umbrellas (from Mid July to the last week of August, you’d better book a place, as Italians are all vacationing in that period). Not that bad! Ok, but you deserve a night out at a chiringuito, even with kids, don’t you? We suggest Koko Beach in Imperia.
Baby supplies abound. No need to move the house or to pack a full bag just for your babies. Drugstores are supplied of basically everything you can imagine. From oil&shampoo treatment for milk crust, to biological brands of baby food and any kind of beach-related items. Still not convinced? Check out what Farmacia Guglielmi in Diano Marina has to offer for the little ones.
Hotels and restaurants are used to families. Several hotels feature a bed&breakfast plus dinner offer for families, with kids menus for the little ones, at very convenient prices if you book in advance. You can easily find kids menus or kids portions in the main restaurants and cafes. I think this is the positive influence of France, where “Ménu enfant” is common everywhere.
You can truely enjoy your breakfast or aperitivo. Several cafés have a playground or have some sort of entertainment nearby. I find it very convenient for relaxing and chatting between adults, while kids are playing safely. Another feature why these villages are perfect for families is that they have wide areas closed to cars in the center, where cafés and restaurants are. I recommend Marabotto café (Diano Marina): wide, colorful playground for the little ones, excellent macchiato for the grown-ups.
You can easily travel to the French Riviera. Not only by car but also by coach. Some local travel agents organize day trips to Nice, Menton or Monaco at very convenient prices. I personally tested Diana Tours , which has a great offer especially in June to September. I took an excursion to Nice with baby Princess when she was nine months old and it was just perfect: I stored the stroller in the coach and the driver gave me the possibility to leave things on board while we were visiting (e.g. : you might bring some extra toys for the journey). As the distance from Imperia is less the 90 km (less than 55 miles), it was more comfortable than a train. Moreover, it had the enormous, priceless advantage of taking the Corniches to reach Nice. I’ve been travelling a lot, but the view from that three cliff roads are honestly one of the best thing on this planet. After Paris.
A great excuse to indulge on focaccia. The typical snack made in Italian Riviera can become addictive. I know it is not exactly the best thing for your Dunkan program, still, the kids love it. We all know the importance of having them eating without complaining to enjoy our vacations, don’t we? Here it’s very easy: just embrace the locals’ diet. It consists of breakfast with focaccia and latte; lunch with double focaccia portion at the beach; dinner with something you like and…guess what… focaccia instead of bread. I’ve never seen a kid complaining about this. One of my favorite bakeries in this area is Pizza-Stop in Imperia. Are you feeling guilty? Let’s face the reality: life is too short to curtail carbs. Plus, it might be the ultimate motivation to join that kick boxing class this winter. See? It turns out to be a good-for-you!!