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Vacation in the Sun - Nice France to Lucca Italy

Professor Arnie Greenberg

With a modern airport, Nice is the perfect place to start your southern vacation. Here you can discover French Southern charm, museums, beaches, food and promenades you dream about. Here, you walk along the Mediterranean, past the famous pink domed Negresco Hotel and the shining white buildings from Nice’s glory years. But there’s much that is new in Nice as you’ll see.

In Nice there are open air flower markets, wonderful restaurants, like Flo, right behind Galleries Lafayette where shopping is the best. Chez  Flo is a reconverted movie theatre. The food is top quality and the atmosphere exotic. Make a reservation in advance.

The flower market was created in 1897 at the Cours Saleya near the water.  There is a food market open every day but Monday an antique market open daily from 7:30 – 6 PM but not on Mondays. In the evening from June 1st – Sept 3oth there’s an evening showing of local art.

Of course, no visit to Nice is complete without the Chagall Museum of the Bible and the park-like setting of the Matisse Museum.

The Old City and harbor are great evening places to eat or just walk along the Promenade Des Anglais in French Southern ambiance.

Note: A day trip to St paul de Vence in the foothills is rewarding and visual. Include the Fondation Maeght .

Nearby, a day trip to sunny Villefranche, the harbor with the fortress, permanently decorated Jean Cocteau Church (Chapelle St-Pierre) and the Rothschild home perched on a rise above the deep water bay on cap Ferrat, all pink and inviting. The admission charge is worth it and there’s a charming restaurant for lunch. Just a Salad Niceois is worth the effort.

Another place to visit while here is the Russian Orthodox Church. There was one a great Russian presence in the area as the Russian Government leased Villefranche Harbor for their fleet.

Nice and area offers everything from modern art to gambling. It is a city with a spirit and even a simple salad Nicoise is not so simple.


I suggest Hotel Rivoli…centrally located in Nice. From here you have easy access to all points and it’s walking distance to the beach. (Indoor pool).

Hotel Nice Rivoli
3* 45 rue Pastorelli

Phone: 33 (0) 4 93 92 69 60

But we have to move on. Monaco is a short hop away and on route, a stop in hilltop Eze will make your view of the sunny seacoast memorable. At the base of the town, you can enjoy a few hours touring Fragonard and learn the wonders of perfume making.


The perfect place for the rich and famous. Here the hotels are splendid but expensive. The gambling casino is famous, the palace is splendid and the Monte Carlo auto race attracts thousands. It’s a nice place to spend a day touring around or perhaps overnight, but it is a tiny municipality with a forest of high-rise buildings. The whole principality covers less than 2 square km or one square mile. Yet, the views are wonderful and the experience not to be missed., especially a visit to the Palace, open daily June – Oct.

There are day or evening tours to the city or Casino from Nice by motor coach. The drive along the middle Cornish with its twist, turns and tunnels is in itself a treat.

But if you are going into Italy by car, I wouldn’t spend too much time here. There are treasures ahead, not to be missed. The Corniche is the fastest way to get through the first part of the Italian coast. Here you’ll pass spectacular views and see the towns far below near the sea. Once you get to Genoa, you turn south and the terrain becomes more forested and serene.

Genoa is a mega city famous for its relationship with ship building and Columbus, but there are more interesting places an hour to the south so stay on the main route

You will soon see the exit for Rapallo and Portofino on the Autostrada                                              


Drive through Rapallo to Sta Marguerita where the hotels string out along the shore. You can easily find a place to stay here, as there are wall to wall hotels. But It’s crowded and with a minimum of charm. Keep traveling on the coastal road to nearby Portofino. There is an indoor garage and a very short walk to the sleepy fishing village that awaits you. It is one of those picture perfect places to have a glass of wine with biscotti, even in the morning, as they do here.

The jet set discovered Portofino and made it famous. Climb the stairs and see the port from above. There is a yellow church, a museum and a castle open t0 the public.

On a recent visit I bought a delicate water color poster of the bay. It hangs in my kitchen ever since. That alone could wet anyone’s appetite to visit Italy. Movie stars and Royalty visit here often. You can join them. There is no more peaceful place for a holiday. You can stay but make a reservation in advance.

Hotel suggestion Hotel Splendido a classic 4 story hotel in a historic building dating from 1400. It sits on beautiful grounds overlooking the sea. There is a bar, restaurant and pool. Inquire for prices at Tel: 0185 267806.

Not everyone takes the time to get off the through highway and visit the five towns on a cliff looking out to the Western Mediterannean. If you have the time you will be rewarded. There are not many places to stay but you might still enjoy the spectacular panoramas from this towering location.

Driving can be another problem but there is a train and good walking paths. From Riomaggiore you can descend the steep street that leads to the harbor. The bright colored fishing boats are a photographer’s delight.

Cinque Terre

Try to get to Manarola, the most picturesque of all. There’s an American style restaurant but not much else. The dock is cut from the rock wall. From here, there’s a ferry to Vernazza

From this area you can take a ferry to Elba. It’s of great historical significance . Mountainous with lovely beaches and you can see the mansion in Portoferraio where Napoleon lived while in exile for ten months after his defeat at the Battle of Leipzig in 1814. He returned from here and organized an army that was defeated in 1815 at Waterloo (near Brussels).


Everyone knows about the great leaning Tower and so it’s always teaming with visitors. While it’s worth a visit there are two drawbacks. First of all the ‘field of miracles’ where the tower and basilica stand teems with vendors. It looks like a lavish market with cheap souvenirs and illicit hawkers everywhere.

Secondly, if you arrive by car or tour bus, you have to drive outside the city and leave your car in a special car park. From there the small shuttle busses take you back and forth to the tower.

I suggest you go once so you’ll have seen it. A good guide will explain how the engineers have come up with a way to save the tower from leaning any farther and possibly collapsing.

The old town is interesting but no more than most towns in Italy.

This was once a famous seaport but with the changes in the land and ocean, the town is quite far from the sea today.

Perhaps that explains why the tower was leaning and sinking. The ground below is quite water-logged.

As you drive east from the village you will come to a tiny town with thermal baths. While it has its charm San Giuliano Terme offers an excellent modern hotel with a wonderful dining room. Their risotto is special but even if its not on the menu you will be able to sample many other local delicacies. This hotel is a true oasis, away from the noise of Pisa, yet only a short drive away.

Gran Duca Hotel

This modern pink and white hotel is a good place to spend a night or two. There are tennis courts available. Call ahead for reservations.    

Lucca is about thirty minutes away. This old Tuscan Capital is certainly worth visiting even if its only for the day.

1402 Words  Arnie Greenberg

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You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at


Over the past few years, Professor Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the globe including Italy and most of China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters from St.Petersburg to Moscow. 

"He took a group to Greece and another to northern Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico.  His newly found spare time is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders..  "So You Want To Be A Tour Leader." 

Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.  Keep reading his web for travel ideas.  His next novel HELLSTORM'S Folly, will be available this fall. He now lives in British Columbia.

Go to: or contact him directly at

(More about the writer.)


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