Rome, Monaco and Monte Carlo
The formal dinner on April 11 was okay after which we went to see the movie called “The Company Men” starring Ben Affleck, Thomas Kee, Craig Mathers, Gary Galone and Tommy Lee Jones. Roger didn’t like it so we went to the live show at the Royal Court Theatre called “Crazy in Love”.
We went on a pre-dawn session of star gazing with astronomy expert Dr. Francisco Diego on April 12 where we saw spectacular views of the Milky Way. After breakfast as usual, we went line dancing and Roger was able to go to the library to inquire about buying the Liners book.
He was also able to ask the Photo Section about an anniversary portrait and about the lost black sweater at the Purser’s Office. But they did not have it, still miss it because it was one-of-a-kind that never grows old. In fact the one bought in Rome (which was supposed to be a high-end store) to replace it looked bedraggled only after a couple of times wearing it.
Roger went to the Wine Tasting to which we were invited. At this time after sailing following the north westerly course we approached the Messina Strait where we picked up a local pilot to help proceed through the traffic lanes.
We passed at less than one nautical mile between the isle of Sicily and the Southern tip of mainland Italy. Once we cleared on the northern side, we disembarked the pilot and once again set on a north westerly course. Formal dinner was fine after which we went to see the Flamenco Dance Troupe “Los Mulero” - Clasico Espanol y Flamenco. Then we went to see the movie called “The Tempest” starring Helen Mirren, Felicity Jones and Djimon Hounsou.
We were not done yet for we had to get ready for our visit to Rome by reading and absorbing the materials QM2 so kindly provided us. We have been to the Eternal City several times and saw its rich historical background as far back as 753 B. C. We’ve fallen in love with Rome many times. We’ve even sampled latte at the nearby Capri and we‘re not latte drinkers.
In fact, Evelyn was pick pocketed in Rome. We’ve toured the Colosseum, Pantheon, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican City so we decided to tour the Medieval Viterbo on April 13 instead. But first we had to do our homework and study what we could on this area.
In Civitavecchia, we start with a quotation, “Any ruler who refuses to cooperate will be regarded as Rome‘s enemy. Those who are not with us are against us.” - Robert Harris (1957 - ) British scholar, Roman general in “Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome” Just 45 miles from what some consider to be the centre of the Italian universe (Rome), Civitavecchia is the powerful maritime engine of Rome’s Lazio region.
There is proof that people lived here longer than history’s records show. During the Roman era, the Civitavecchia port was founded calling it Centumcellae and rebuilt in 107 AD as ordered by Emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus Nerva (latin name). There are monumental buildings and statues reflecting the economic importance of Civitavecchia to the empire.
Civitavecchia is supposedly a small town but its harbour is massive, it being the main port for the capital. There’s a lot of shipping traffic and an Italian rail serves the busy port which is 50 miles from Rome. The seafront promenade is lined with cafes and small shops.
There are fewer shops in Civitavecchia than in Rome but the local merchants cater to the international traffic and so offer items found in bigger cities. It is nice to just walk around the central pedestrian zone and see shopping in action.
The ancient Etruscan city of Tarquinia is just 30 minutes away from the pier. It was home of the Tarquin kings who ruled before the rise of Rome. It was an important centre of commerce. They found ancient tombs and the last historical reference to Tarquinia was around 1250.
Before 1995, most travelers just passed through Civitavecchia on the way to or from Rome but now it is a busy port. After a Madonna statue crying tears of blood was proven real, visitors noted the treasures of the city although the Vatican is still trying to find out whether it was a miracle.
The impressive Forte Michelangelo was first commissioned by Pope Julius II from Bramante to defend Rome’s port. You see, the Middle Ages brought lawlessness to the Mediterranean. Different ports had suffered invasions, and then organized piracy added to the attack.
Civitavecchia was burned several times in the 15th century and often those who were not able to find refuge were massacred. The Romans recognized the port was their own first defense against raids and so it was decided to fortify it. It was completed under Paul III by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and Giuliano Leno in 1535.
But the upper part was forgotten so Michelangelo was hired. Four turrets defend each of the corners and the main tower of octagonal shape has a remarkable thickness of 6 - 7.6 m. The moat is gone, but we can still see the cannon mounts. San Sebastian Tower has an underground passage that could be used for evacuation.
They found a wonderful mosaic floor in the Roman building. The Archaeological Museum in Civitavecchia is a storeroom for artifacts found in the ancient fort. The 18th-century villa belonged to Clemente XIII and was the headquarters for the Papal garrison. There are several marble heads on display along with glass implements, and pottery fragments.
Begun in the 18th century, Civitavecchia’s central Cathedral features two statues of St. Francis of Assisi. It was built by the Franciscans over a small church from 1610. There are no priceless artworks but the perfect design and proportions are impressive.
The road to the Italian capital is still Via Aurelia which was built by the Romans. The road hugs the coast for some distance before turning inland to the Eternal City. For some distance, the road is by the coast before going inland to lead to Rome. There are interesting ruins along the shore among which was a noted ancient site for sulfur hot springs.
Practically Speaking - Currency: euro Shop: 9:00 am- 1 pm; 4 pm - 8 pm Info: Cruise Terminal PO: Cruise Termina Browse: Central Pedestrian Zone Buy: Italian design (prices may be better than Roman shops) Arrival Information: The ship docked at the Port of Civitavecchia with the small town nearby.
Ostia Antica has the well- preserved ruins that are just 20 miles from Rome. It’s a large archeological site near the modern town of Ostia (Latin for mouth) which used to be the harbour designed to protect the Tiber River against invaders.
The oldest settlement so far unearthed at the ancient port is the Castrum (singular for the Latin word Castra used by the ancient Romans to mean land and buildings built for military defensive purposes). It is a military fortress from the 4rth century BC, but the port led to the destruction of Rome by the 3rd century AD, when the emperors either were assassinated or lost power.
To the east of the theatre, inside the Roman Gate, the extra large Baths of Neptune (around 67 X 67 meters feature a vivid sea-themed mosaic floor). A very old amphitheatre (dated from 12 BC and once accommodated 3500 spectators) reveals the town’s importance as not every village had a theatre. The Forum of the Corporations, an ancient commercial centre, is just beyond.
Rome “the Eternal City”. "Everything in Italy that is particularly elegant and grand… borders on insanity and absurdity - or at least is reminiscent of childhood." - Alexander Herzen (1812 - 70), Russian scholar. My Past and Thoughts
Once one of the western world’s most powerful empires, the Lazio (Latium is Latin for Lazio which is Italian) Region, just below boot-shaped Italy’s knee, surrounds Rome. Third-century Aurilian Walls still surround ancient and modern Rome as well. Centuries of history are etched into the buildings and grand statues line the streets that once carried Nero’s chariots.
There are ruins everywhere like the famous Coliseum and the Forum. Other buildings that reflect the early Christian period, like the Castel Sant’ Angelo (Hadrian Mausoleum), are equally treasured. The city is a showcase of Baroque and Renaissance architecture as can be seen from St. Peter’s Square and Basilica to Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio (designed by Michelangelo) and reached from one of the seven hills of Rome.
Rome values its past with statues and ancient monuments, but despite living among these treasures, the Romans are known for their pleasant lunacy. The Tiber River goes way through the city bank, while Vatican City and Trastevere (“across the Tiber’) are in the west. The Trastevere they say is a pleasant distraction (some say it’s the coolest and hippest part of the city) from the historic center and heavy with tourists.
South of the river are the seven Roman Hills famous in Fellini’s films Roma and La Dolce Vita. It accurately captured the special yet somewhat crazed character. For the Romans love life’s pleasures and intellectual pursuits - all in tremendous terms.
Eternal Fountain where you could toss a coin over the left shoulder into the Fontana di Trevi would make certain a return visit and a second coin would bestow the wish. It is probably a superstition but Nicola Salvi’s (although he died before he could finish it) the baroque (1740) fountain, is one of Rome’s most spectacular public sculptures.
Coliseum, it is said that if it falls, Rome and the world will follow. The Flavian Amphitheatre is Rome’s most famous and imposing works that could seat 50,000 spectators of gruesome entertainment where unarmed men fought lions and each other. It was also used for public spectacles of executions, mock sea battles. Later it was used as a housing, fortress, quarry, workshops and Christian shrine. Others compare it to today’s sports.
The Roman Forum is the very centre of life. Philosophers and orators met to discuss social and political questions. Later, it was the only place where the crowds are allowed to assemble. But it disintegrated when the empires declined. By the Renaissance, it was just a pasture.
Piazza Di Spagna is where visitors met for centuries. They go to the Spanish Steps which are a series of 138 steps, the widest in Europe. The Piazza di Spagna below is one of the most pleasing squares. Artists scoured the area searching for models. From here one can go to Via Condotti, where you will find one of the most stylish and expensive streets to shop.
The Jewish Quarter is where some Jews have lived in Rome ever since the powerful emperors had been to the Middle East. The Jewish quarter (used to be the Jewish Ghetto established to require the Jews to live here with restricted rights). There are now some monuments and lovely fountains there. The main street is Via del Portico d’Ottavia where Judaica is honoured in the old Synagogue.
Galleria Borghese is where you will find the most magnificent art collections on the Renaissance in the world. Among those featured are Canova, Bernini, Titian, Raphael, Correggio, Botticelli Caravaggio. The gallery is housed in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana with grounds considered as one of the loveliest public parks in Rome.
Pantheon is one of the best preserved Roman buildings. It has been continuously used throughout its history. Later it was consecrated as a Catholic Church where masses are still held there for weddings and on Catholic days of obligation. It was built by Agrippa in 27 BC and restored by Hadrian a hundred years later.
Catacombe Di San Callisto is located along the Appian way and built in 150 AD. It is named after the deacon, Saint Callixtus. The arcades, where sixteen pontiffs and more than fifty martyrs were buried, form part of the graveyard with an area of fifteen hectares and is around twenty kilometers long. .
Practically Speaking - Currency: euro Shop: 9:00 am- 1 pm; 4 pm - 8 pm Info: Stazione Termini (Main train station in Rome) PO: Vatican PO (St. Peter Square) Browse: Via Condotti (most prestigious), Via del Tritone, Via Borgognona (pedestrian mall), Via Barberini, Via Veneto, and Via Nazionale Buy: Italian design.
Vatican City or Citta Vaticano is a sovereign state within the Italian republic. It is a walled city 108 acres in size on a hillside west of the Tiber River. There are more than 1000 people running this independent nation, under the terms of the Lateran Treaty, signed by the Vatican Holy See and Mussolini, prime minister of Italy and leader of the Fascist Party on February 11, 1929 in Lateran Palace.
The Vatican Museum’s treasures are displayed in a series of galleries that would stretch more than 4½ miles end-to-end. The Sistine Chapel features Michelangelo’s most inspiring frescoes, including a depiction of God giving Adam life. He painted the 10,000 square foot ceiling for four agonizing years while lying on his back between 1508 and 1512 at the commission of Pope Julius II.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini created St Peter’s Square in the 17th century, around the central (stolen) Egyptian obelisk when he was commissioned by Pope Alexander VII to create a square worthy of St Peter’s Basilica (begun in 319 AD when Emperor Constantine built a basilica over St. Peter’s tomb.)
Five of Italy’s most important artists died during the construction - Bramante, Peruzzi, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and Michelangelo although Bernini completed the square rapidly between 1657 and 1667. The cardinals met at the site in April 2005 to elect John Paul’s successor.
Benvenuti A Civitavecchia was how we were welcome to this town and commune of the province of Rome in the central Italian region of Latium, the central region of Italy. It is a sea port on the Tyrrhenian Sea which is considered part of the Mediterranean Sea. It is 80 km west-north-west of Rome, across the Mignone River. The harbour is formed by two piers and a breakwater where there is a lighthouse.
Civitavecchia means ’ancient town” but the modern city was built over a pre-existing Etruscan settlement. The harbour was constructed by the Emperor Trajan, one of the few rulers whose reputation has lasted nineteen centuries). Today, Civitavecchia is a major ferry and cruise port. Fishing is of secondary importance.
Rome is known as the Eternal City, the Capital of the world, the city of the seven hills, the thresholds of the Apostles or just l’Urbe (The City). For centuries, Rome has been centre of western civilization as well as the seat of the Catholic Church.
The State of the Vatican City, the sovereign territory of the Holy See, is an enclave of Rome. Rome (the third most visited by tourists in EU), is modern and cosmopolitan, a city of cultural and political importance. It has escaped the ravages of the World War II and has remained basically Renaissance and Baroque in character. Rome’s Historic Centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Rome (Civitavecchia), ItalyDuring the early hours of the morning, we continued sailing along the Italian coast on a North-Westerly heading across the Tyrrhenian Sea. After we passed a group of islands known as Isole Pontine on April 13, we entered the Civitavecchia Port.
There were two important notices at this point. One was on the passport stamping for non European guests in Civitavecchia - that we were to be ready with our passports at the gangway. The other notice is on the Spanish (VAT) Bar and Dining charges of 8% that the ship will be required to add while in Spanish ports and Spanish Territorial waters.
The tour helped us discover Viterbo’s charm. We found it indeed to be one of the best preserved medieval towns in central Italy. The tour left Civitavecchia and took us from scenic drives through lovely Italian countryside to shops and culinary delights. We were heading towards the Lazio region of central Italy and finally into the ancient town of Viterbo.
The port we just left is important, the tour guide said, because it is easy to go to other parts like Sicily and Sardinia which are the two largest islands in Italy, six sites of which are in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Then we saw the most important fortress called Fortress Michelangelo. Julius III decided to build a port and then Paul III decided to finish it. We also saw the statue Triano welcoming us.
Tuscany region in Central Italy is close the regional capital of which is Florence. Tosha is not far away either. In 30 minutes you will be in Tuscany. There are no precise borders. You can see sheep and agriculture is most important here. The two most important products are grapes, olives and olive oil.
Though olive trees and grapes are all over they also produce vegetables like tomatoes and artichokes. La Tuscia is in the northern part of Lazio and is a connection to the southern part of Tuscany. There’s the city which is both modern and medieval which is the city of Tarquinia where there is the first organized population and where Etruscan people came.
The Etruscan people were called Etrusci by the Romans. This is one of the most important places where Etruscans came between the 8th and 9th centuries BC almost 3000 years ago so long ago that information on their daily lives is lost. But they believe on the Acropolis, in life after death. They found 6000 graves with 200 covered in beautiful paintings.
You can tell that these are the rich people. Water means life so they have this water system built in the 18th century, created a water system aqueduct water into town in 4rth century BC. The paintings on the graves are created with natural colours and that's how they found what the Etruscans look like. Monte Romano is part of the province of Viterbo.
We saw some chestnut trees too. They are used to produce Ferrero Rose sweet and dark Nutella Chocolate Cake. Some variety of chestnuts are used to make marmalade. At the end of summer is when you see the tomatoes. Grapes are in the end of August, wine in end of September. October is the perfect time for chestnuts. Chemin is at higher sea level. It's in the first two weeks of October and the start of November when they harvest the grapes.
How do they harvest? They cut the grapes and collect them in baskets. They do chestnuts by hand but now they have machines that work like vacuum. Olives can be done by machines as well. To get the perfect extra virgin oil, press the olive within 24 hours of harvesting. There were also hazelnut trees around.
There are two important places in this region called Vetralla. They are volcanic; that’s why the soils are reddish brown. The Cimino Hills are a range of densely wooded volcanic hills the highest point of which is the Mount Cimino, 1053 above sea level. That is why they grow chestnuts.
Then we went on a walking tour through the cobblestone streets. You can see the lion which gives us life and water. There’s the palm tree in the coat of arms. It was destroyed so lion, palm tree and four letters F A V L representing the four villages that went together to protect themselves.
We passed by palazzos dating back in 1264 on the central square, Piazza del Plebiscito and Piazza del Ges, where there is a spindle fountain. Here we visited the Cathedral of Saint Lorenzo, the main church of Viterbo, dedicated to Saint Lawrence.
In the 11th and 13th century the city of wall was built. We saw the Palace of the Prior, and the Palace of the Mayor. The original is just the church courtyard of the Palace of the Prior where there’s a fountain where we had our picture taken. It was built in the 17th century.
We got to the Jesus Square where they built the best one. Now we go to the see the beautiful square which is the religious centre where the Palace of the pope is and the cathedral. They added the loggia, an open-sided extension so the pope can bless the people.
Hercules is the mythological founder of Viterbo who killed the lion. There were 117 cardinals who elected Pope Benedict and it took the conclave 2 days. One time in 1258 it took 33 months to elect the pope so they locked the cardinals in, with a key thus calling it conclave.
To recap: first the Romans, then the Renaissance and Baroque then World War II. Saint Lawrence, Palazzo Papal, Cathedral of San Lorenzo. Now we are on Pelligrino Street which means Pilgrim Street. We saw the houses with four elements: arch, stairway, balcony and entrance to home showing they are in an agricultural territory.
The main attraction here is the impressive Pope’s Palace (Palazzo dei Papi). The Palace once served as the Pope’s country residence. Two popes were buried in the church next door. One is now unknown due to the16th century renovation but Pope John XXI (who died in 1277 when the ceiling in his study in the papal palace fell to the room below while he slept) is still clearly marked. We could see though why the pontiff chose the location as his retreat.
Then we walked to the Quartiere San Pellegrino District where we had some free time to explore on our own and stopped by a restaurant type with this inscription Dal 1818 Grand Caffe Schenaidi.
We were served some light refreshments in a typical pizzeria. We left Civitavecchia with Daniela, our excellent tour guide. Citta means city and today it is the port of Rome (the second most important in Europe). She pointed out the statue of Saint Herminia, the patron Saint of Civitavecchia but we could not authenticate this.
As we said our Arrivederci Roma (formal) or ciao (less formal), we couldn’t help but marvel at Rome’s being the seat of many governments since 1945, the year Benito Mussolini died. It was well earned with its buildings across the seven hills spanning the centuries from classical Rome to the present.
After gathering all this information and doing the tour, we went to the elegant casual dinner tired but happy. Then we went to check out the movie called “The Invention of Lying” starring Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill. We also took in the show at the Royal Court Theatre “Viva Italia” that introduces Queen Mary 2’s very own singing and dancing chef!
Also included in this beautiful production are the famous Commedia Dell’Arte characters, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Living Sculptures, Shakespeare’s famous lovers, Galileo and a tribute to Paganini, culminating in a stunning masked ball finale - Viva Italia!
In the evening after disembarking the pilot, we headed on a Westerly course. Then we changed to the north to transit the Corsica Channel which would take us to the Ligurian Sea after which we changed to the North West bound for Monte Carlo, 243 nautical miles away. We were not done yet for the day for we had to get ready for the next port of call by reading the materials sent to us:
Monaco and Monte Carlo on April 13 starts with a quotation - “Every man is as heaven made him, and sometimes a great deal worse.” - Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), Spanish writer. Sancho Panza, in Don Quixote, pt 2, bk 5, ch 4
Monaco’s story begins with the earliest visitors, the Ligurians (ancient people who gave their name to Liguria which is in north western Italy. The period leading up to the Grimaldi dynasty was without incident, but it was the House of Grimaldi that made the single square mile into some of the prized real estate in the world. The Grimaldis from Genoa became famous in the 12the century when the principal son so impressed the court that he was sent to stand for the Maritime Republic in the German and Byzantine courts.
His descendants helped the Genoese by defending a stronghold on the Rock of Monaco. Since the fighting went on in their country, the family sought refuge in the region. In 1297, Francoise Grimaldi, dressed as a monk seized the castle and took up residence in the fortress in 1297. Ever since then his descendants have ruled there.
Keeping their rule they found was not easy. There were attacks from the coast and they were at war to maintain their status. They were clever though for they were successful in playing one side against the other for their advantage.
The turning point was in the 17th century when the French granted Honore II the title of prince in exchange for his pledging allegiance to France. Sardinia was assigned to protect Monaco after the rise and fall of Napoleon. This was not received well and led to the general unrest in France.
Menton and Roquebrune declared independence on March 20, 1848 because they did not like being taxed by the Grimaldis who struggled to retain them. Charles III surrendered them to France in 1861. That was a loss of revenue for the Grimaldis and all thought they would be bankrupt. What saved the day for them? The Monte Carlo Casino did!
Musee National, Monaco’s National Museum, was moved to its home at the restored Villa Sauber, one of Charles Garnier’s (also best known as architect of Palais Garnier and Monte-Carlo Opera) architectural contributions in 1972. It contains Madeleine de Galea’s collection of dolls and machines from the 19th century.
The villa’s rose garden, also a Charles Garnier design, is heart shaped and dedicated to Princess Grace. It is about 10 acres with more than 40 species perfuming the air. Some of the hybrids were made especially for the Monaco’s two princesses.
The Prince’s Palace or Palais Princier is the official residence of the Prince of Monaco. Prince Honore II was given a royal title and so he transformed the castle into a palace. There were priceless furniture, paintings and tapestries placed inside. The private apartments of the Royal Family are in the southern wing near the Museum of Napoleonic Souvenirs and the Royal Archives.
The museum has an interesting collection of the Petit General’s personal effects like his uniforms and watch, along with relics and stamps at that time. The troop’s affectionate name for Napoleon maybe due to his 5 feet 2 inches height.
The main attraction is the daily ceremony of the Changing of the Guard. At precisely 11:55 am, the section of the carabiniers (a military unit of 116 men officially in charge of the personal security of the Prince and his family) responsible for guarding the Prince’s Palace performs the elaborate ceremony announced by the company‘s section of eight trumpeters.
The Monaco Oceanographic Museum is one of Prince Albert I’s greatest achievements. It is probably the finest in Europe with 400 species overlooking the sea on a 260 feet high cliff. It is the tiny country’s pride that still welcomes scientists from all over the world. It features a huge pool with a nurse shark, the Red Sea coral reef and the collection of Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s original equipment (a famous marine biologist, a French naval officer and was the museum director until 1988.)
Practically Speaking - Currency: euro Shop: 10:00 am- 1:30 pm; 4:30 pm - 8 pm Info: Opposite the main Casino or www.visitmonaco.com PO Square Beaumarchais Browse: Boulevard des Moulins, Avenue des Beaux-Arts (Part of the Golden Square), and Avenue Princess Grace Buy: Fashion, royal souvenirs
Arrival Information - The ship anchored off La Condamine Pier, Port of Monaco (with many boutiques and the most diversified shopping experience). Tenders operate to shore. Monaco-Ville and Monte Carlo (the “upper terraces”) are accessible via public escalators or elevators. Entrances for some of them are just off Boulevard Albert I near the gangway.
Monte Carlo Casino (one of the most notable buildings) has been a world famous institution almost since the mid-19th century when Prince Charles III established the elegant gaming house. It was a last resort to fund the tiny Principality. Charles Garnier was the designer and architect of the casino.
An assortment of angels are on top this building façade of which is neo-classical. The interior is just as ornate. The pink gallery bar off Salles Europeens, the main gaming hall, is a surfeit of décor. You will see the cigarette-smoking nudes on the ceiling. They were racy back in 1880.
The centre of the real action is the inner Salles Privees. Serious players pay an entrance fee, and house management must approve wagers above a threshold amount. Cameras are not allowed. The casino is a gambling complex facility that includes the Opera House as well as the noted Hotel de Paris.
Inside is very modern especially after the 1988 renovation. Its American Bar is advertised as playing host to the elite of the elite. Place du Casino, the square around which everything is built, is spotless. The European Room opens at noon, and maintains strict dress codes. Shorts and open sandals are not permitted.
Bienvenue a Monte Carlo, was what greeted us. Monaco sometimes is referred wrongly as the capital which really is Monaco-Ville. This capital covers the entire territory with a permanent population of 3000. Monte-Carlo is famous for its casinos, gambling, and for watching famous people.
Monte-Carlo includes not only Monte-Carlo proper where Le Grand Casino is, but also Saint Michel, Saint-Roman/Tenao, and Larvotto, the beach community. It borders the French town of Beausoleil which is sometimes referred to as Monte-Carlo-Superieur.
Founded in 1866, Monte-Carlo is named after the prince who was reigning at that time, Prince Charles III of Monaco. Monte is Italian for mountain which refers to the foot of the Maritime Alps where the town is located.
Monte-Carlo is home to most of the Circuit de Monaco used on one weekend in May by the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix. It was the idea of the Grimaldi family‘s friend, Anthony Noghes. The first race was held in 1929. It also hosts world championship boxing bouts, European Poker Tour Grand Final, the Monte-Carlo Masters, and the World Backgammon Championship. There are also fashion shows and other events.
Royalty and movie stars have visited for decades. From 1900 to 1953, Monte-Carlo was served by tramways that link parts of Monaco. One of the most respected and longest-running car rallies is The Monte-Carlo Rally. It marks the start of each rally season as the first event on the World Rally Championship calendar. The rally though takes place outside the Monte-Carlo.
Monte-Carlo is one of the leading tourist resorts in Europe. Many of the tourist destinations are located in other parts of Monaco like the Monaco Cathedral, the Oceanographic Museum and aquarium, the Napoleon Museum, and the Prince’s palace that are in Monaco-ville.
Monte Carlo, MonacoAfter a north westerly heading across the Ligurian Sea, we anchored in the morning outside the Monte Carlo Port on April 14. Although we’ve been here before, we were excited because we bought the tour called Riviera Panorama. Patrick was our tour guide and Joseph was our driver. Patrick said we would cross the Principality of Monte Carlo. On the way, we saw olive field and Prince Rainier’s Country Club where there was a tennis tournament going on called Rolex Tennis Tournament.
Then it’s a 20-25 short minute drive to Eze. The new asphalt was recently done in preparation for the next Grand Prix. The number of people coming is 160,000. Patrick pointed to the opera house, green dome, Hermitage, second best hotel in Monte Carlo where elegance is second nature. He also showed us the Cathedral of St. Nicholas where Prince Rainier’s wedding was held.
We soaked up the scenery of the wonderful French Riviera. The panoramic drive was exciting and we stopped at Eze and then later at Menton. The tour took us along the picturesque Corniche roads on the side of a mountain, spectacularly set one above the other. The precipice-hugging turns gave way to amazing views.
We drove along the Middle Corniche (This is an alternative road along with the Lower Corniche to the upper one for those who fear heights) and on to the old village of Eze, perched high where we caught sight of the Cap d’Ail harbour on France‘s Cote d‘Azur. We enjoyed a brief stroll in the square at the bottom of the pretty village of Eze. It was a magical place where we lost ourselves in the beauty of the surroundings.
We thought we were spared of traveling along the Upper Corniche to La Turbie but they took us there. The wonderful views extending over the border and the Principality of Monaco below were worth going on this road. Our tour passed by the old village of Roquebrune (Became French in 1793 changing its name to the original Roccabruna but in 1814 it was returned to Monaco).
Then it’s Menton for an hour. It is the highest of roads to drive on former Roman Valley Road. Menton, the last French town before the Italian border, claims to be the warmest resort on the French Riviera. We enjoyed our free time in Menton browsing in the shops, relaxing in a café enjoying the atmosphere and wonderful ocean views.
July 2011 was the expected wedding of Prince Albert to Charlene from South Africa who has some Irish blood. Government of Monaco decide to develop tourism at its best for the rich and famous of Europe after the crisis in 1848 the year of the revolution municipalities.
The Opera House was built in nine months who took care of the metallic structure. All the buildings are old and by the middle of centuries opened and abolished the income tax because they had enough revenue from the casino.
Condos were constructed during the period. Mainly French and Italians but they do not give citizenship; you can’t be a citizen even if you’re born here. Their population is small and mainly Italian and French but there are 117 different nationalities living there.
The eastern extreme of the principality has 1.2 square miles. Monaco is a strip of land protected from harsh climate. The average temperature is 15 degrees Celsius. In one hour and 15 minutes you will get to the Alps where you can ski in 16 degrees Celsius.
When you’re in the country club where the tennis tournament was going on, you would already be in France because we’re past the border. Industry is located in Roquebrune in 1948 but attached back to France. Here we saw the property of Princess Caroline of Monaco. Monte Carlo Beach is in France but it belongs to Monaco. Winston Churchill has a property on the Cape.
Ground Rock Castle is constructed on a rock. We drove down to the peninsula where we saw Churchill’s property. Then on we went to Norton. A book by Ted Jones reveals that Queen Victoria used to visit here for long periods of time. Wealthy Romans used to reside here so they kept something of the period like a temple with a fountain.
Menton is on the Mediterranean Sea at the Franco-Italian border. Nicknamed as the Pearl of France, it seceded from Monaco because of the tax on their lemon exports. They declared themselves a free city during the 1848 revolutions. It has a warm climate that is good for orange groves, tangerines and lemons which is one of Menton’s symbols.
At this point, the tour guide said many foreigners agreed to protect France from Italy. Santa Inez is the highest village in Europe which is 800 meters above sea level. We saw the former summer residence of the Grimaldi here in a beautiful palace. Menton is famous for its gardens and there are orange groves around the interesting gardens as well.
The Lemon Festival is held every February in Menton lasting a few days and with a different theme each year. Different bands pass through the streets of Menton either on foot or on truck trailers. The Garden is decorated in the festival’s theme using lemons to cover the exhibits.
The tour guide pointed to the Royal Westminster and the Balmoral as well. In the Medieval Little Town, the port is connected to the castle. There’s the monument dedicated to Queen Victoria. From the hotel, the tour guide pointed at, it is 8 hours to Munich and 8 hours to Barcelona.
William Webb Ellis is famous all over the world as one who invented rugby. He was apparently bored with football so he decided to catch the ball instead with his hands and scored. He later became a clergyman. In 2007 they hosted the Rugby World Cup, the trophy of which is called the William Ellis Cup. New Zealand team came and it’s tradition to go to William’s grave or tomb.
There were few trading posts. There’s the hill with the cypress trees which formerly was a monastery. Lemon, source of vitamin C, sold to international business selling lots to North European fleets.
We saw the statue of Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman empire who ended 100 years of civil war and attained stability and peace to Rome and over 40 years of prosperity and internal peace. The theatre is to the left and then there’s the quarry where stone for construction is cut. Villagers have to cross to play golf. This belongs to Monaco.
We also saw where Princess Grace had her accident when she was on her way home. She only had a broken leg and was rushed to the hospital where she died from the stroke. Grace had an accident where they kept a cottage. Standing stones are common; there are 10,000 of them.
This road we were on was formerly a Roman Road. Here we saw the small village Eze, described as an eagle’s nest due to its location overlooking a high cliff 427 meters above sea level. There’s a famous hotel here where you pay 40 euro to use the toilet. Houses are expensive about 350,000 euro or 100,000 American and 1000 a month to rent.
The Middle Corniche is the most modern while the Coastal Road is the old one. The tour guide said 20% of surface is reclaimed. There are Judas Trees with deep pink/purplish flowers associated with Judea’s tree supposedly used by Judas Iscariot to hang himself after he betrayed Jesus.
They have an artificial peninsula. Monaco, with an artificial peninsula, is the second smallest city in the world with helipad from the airport in 5 minutes. For others, it is 150 euros sometimes to go to the airport with extra tax for Sundays and luggage.
The mansions and palaces were glorious even the bathroom. We sampled it and went to the hotel’s bathroom where the faucets were made of gold and then the attendant dried our hands with the cloth towel. Ah well, there’s nothing too good for the gamblers and she probably thought we were, poor thing.
As we said our au revoir, adieu to this tiny principality (just as small as London’s Hyde Park), we were amazed thinking of the 700th anniversary in 1997 of the Grimaldi Royal Dynasty and of Prince Rainier III’s 50th anniversary on the throne before he died in 2005.
After the tour, we had to rush to the semi-formal dinner because we wanted to see the live show at the Royal Court Theatre featuring Singer, Comedian, and Impressionist Allan Stewart. After the show, we checked out the movie called ‘Fair Game.”
Just before the show, as soon as everyone returned to Queen Mary 2, we heaved up the anchor and set a Westerly heading to sail for the next port of call, Barcelona which is 285 nautical miles away which reminds us we were not done with the day yet for we had to get ready for Barcelona and so had to read all the materials sent to us.