Serendipity in Liguria

Serendipity in Liguria

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Serendipity means an unplanned, fortunate discovery.

The coast of Liguria is not really all that far from Torino – about 85 miles of mostly autostrada and one can arrive here in less than 2 hours. So on August 21st Laura and I headed south to a little known beach that she had been to several times. Of course August is vacation month in Italy and most of the beaches are absolutely packed with people. We had hopes that this wouldn’t be quite as bad a many of them. When we arrived after circling here and there in hopes of finding free parking we finally gave up and paid for a place to park her car. Well, it turns out that this lesser known beach was closed. There had been a little restaurant there with a fairly long stairway down which was now blocked off. It turns out that sometime in the last year there was a big storm with very high surf which totally wiped out the restaurant and so they closed the area. Too bad since the stairway was still there. Some hardy souls had courageously gone around the barrier (was that courage of foolhardiness?) and made their way down to the beach. We decided that it was too risky and found an edge of another beach, less nice but it was a beach. The water was really nice and we both enjoyed swimming. The major problem that rather than sand, most of the beach was made of tiny and sometimes not so tiny pebbles. Still, a little nice sun and tepid water was worth the trouble.

The almost inaccessible beach – except for the risk takers.

You can see the stairs on the left as they descend but the picture doesn’t show how the access is blocked.

The beach we settled for, typical public beach – especially note the view on the right.

Turning for for home I drove since my California license was still valid for a few more days. I wanted to get some coffee to offset the sleep inducing effects of the sun but took a wrong turn and ended up on the autostrada headed for Torino rather than into the city where we would find a bar for coffee. This is where the real serendipity kicked in. The first exit from the autostrada was for the town of Altare which neither of us had ever really heard but there are bars everywhere so we took it. Driving into the town of about 2000 inhabitants we saw a large factory that seemed to have been abandoned quite a while ago. We stopped at a bar for coffee and asked about the factory and they said that it was closed about 20 something years before and it was a factory of glass. Altare is a (or at least was) a “city of glass” where all kinds of glass was manufactured for almost 800 years.

At the cafe’ they directed us to a store where they made and sold art glass where we learned more about the glass industry and I bought a cute little pig. The woman there was the wife of a glass maker, Sandro Bormioli. Several generations of Bormioli made and still make some glass there in Altare, while others moved to other cities and continue to make glass – lots of it – less artistic but of high quality.

The piggie at home in Bologna

We went from there to the Museum of Glass. The glass was fascinating but the real find was the Art Deco mansion that housed it.

The magnificent art deco mansion that now houses the glass museum

Some detail of the interior

Glass panels in some of the doors and an example of some of the glass work

Unfortunately I have no additional pictures – I left my phone in the car. Still, if I hadn’t been driving and I hadn’t wanted a cup of coffee and I hadn’t made a wrong turn….. Sometimes surprising things happen when you just take a random exit from the autostrada.

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