Christmas in Europe - 5-10 december Algarve
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Again following tradition, the organisers did a good job in organising the cultural and tourism side of the programme. Considering how spread out the hotels were, it was no easy task to coordinate the whole operation, and yet in general it all worked fairly well.

The excursions took the participants to various important tourist destinations in the province of Imperia. Dolceacqua (fresh water) in the Nervia valley, overshadowed by the castle of the Doria family. Or Taggia, olive capital of the region, with its vaulted building and its Dominican convent.

Or Triora, a village clinging to a cliff, a real labyrinth of dark alleys, the home of the ‘streghe’ (witches) who even have a museum to their name. And then Cervo, with its 17th century church of St John the Baptist, its museum of ethnography and Clavesana castle. Finally, the Hanbury Gardens in Campomortola, a real gem, perched between the sea and the coast road, and a place where exotic plants from all over the world are preserved. We were offered a wide variety of superb destinations, sometimes enlivened by a troupe of amateur actors (Rione Orso) as in Taggia or Triora, and with professional local guides.

In the Hanbury Gardens: a magnificent site, where rare plants are preserved.
In the Hanbury Gardens: a magnificent site, where rare plants are preserved.

And then there was the evening spent in the Valle Argentina, when around 700 participants were distributed among a whole series of typical local restaurants, allowing us to become acquainted with local gastronomic customs, as for example at Ca’ Mea in Badalucco, where all the dishes were dedicated to mushrooms (funghi), in the warm atmospheric setting of this former water mill.

An evening spent in a typical local restaurant, as here at Ca’ Mea, in the welcoming warmth of this former water mill..
An evening spent in a typical local restaurant, as here at Ca’ Mea, in the welcoming warmth of this former water mill..

And then, still part of the cultural programme, several seminars were offered to participants, on subjects such as Italian Wines, (at the Villa Boselli), Mediterranean Produce (Vittoria Hotel), Floral Table Decoration and The Language of Flowers and Vegetables (Villa Boselli) and Tourism in Liguria (Vittoria Hotel). Sad to say, some seminars attracted few takers, while others, notably the one on the language of flowers and vegetables, were greatly successful.

The Language of Flowers and Vegetables - an opportunity to learn all about floral decoration of tables and of hotels.
The Language of Flowers and Vegetables - an opportunity to learn all about floral decoration of tables and of hotels.

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