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Golden Day Eighty-Six: Fezzano…Lunch on the Gulf of the Poets

February 27, 2013

ART-VENUSSimonetta Cattaneo Vespucci was my inspiration to visit the Gulf of the Poets. This Renaissance Beauty, the Marilyn Monroe of Florence, was believed to be the model for Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and many of his other paintings.

Simonetta arrived in Florence at the age of 16, the bride of Marco Vespucci, who was a cousin of Amerigo, the explorer.  Her fans called her La Bella Simonetta, and said she was from Portovenere, where the Romans believed Venus arose from the sea.

Actually, Simonetta’s family was from Fezzano, a Ligurian village north of Portovenere, bordering the Gulf of The Poets. I took the bus (20 minutes) from Portovenere to seek out the Cattaneo Villa in Fezzano, which I had read was built in 1400, and was in the process of restoration.

The first distraction, opposite the Fezzano bus stop, is this gorgeous cemetery.


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The village was quiet that April day, just a few fishing boats in the cove…

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At the caffe, leather-tanned fisherman were drinking campari-prosecco pick-me-ups out of small champagne glasses. When I asked about the Cattaneo villa, I just got blank looks.

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I explored the upper part of town, found the St. John the Baptist church, alleys…scaffolding…nobody about except some elderly signoras walking their dogs…no signs of the Cattaneo villa…2012-04-25 12.12.29 2012-04-25 12.17.04

Back at the marina, the menu from Ristorante Mistral (Via Gallotti 40, 018 715 09533) caught my eye.

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I peeked in to find Chef Giovanna and waitress Stella, a charming, welcoming duo.

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They set up a table for me facing the beautiful view, under an umbrella pine. I asked for pesce, and this most beautiful lunch arrived…

2012-04-25 13.36.17Followed by Walnut Torte…

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Naturally, chatting with Giovanna and Stella, I asked about the Cattaneo place…again the blank looks came at me. Allora, the mystery remains… I’ll be back…Striking out on the first try simply leads to its allure. And in the meantime, Grazie to Simonetta for a delicious Golden Day.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2013 2:01 am

    Bellissima- Nice to spend moments with you there.

    • MIKE permalink
      February 28, 2013 2:18 am

      YOUR PHOTOS LIGHTEN UP MY 200 MILE PER HOUR DAY. IF YOU HAVE A WEB PAGE WITH MANY MORE PICTURES, PLEASE SEND SO I MA GO TO ITALY ON MY LUNCH BREAK, TOMORROW. MILLE GRAZIA MICHAEL ROMANO AND THE WHOLE DARN CLAN!

  2. MIKE ROMANO permalink
    February 27, 2013 8:32 pm

    LOVE EVERYTHING…MAYBE NOT THE CEMETERY..HAHAHA
    NEXT YEAR…5 WEEKS IN ITALY, FRANCE AND SLOVENIA HOOOORAYYYY!

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