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Saturday, September 3, 2011

In Search of Fantasie

Every few years, I simply must fly someplace where no one speaks any English and I am safe from my fellow Americans.  Some of you just might understand.  I love them, just sometimes more from half a world away.  Plus, I really just needed a reason to check out the Luzzati Museum in Genova Italy. I had been trying to reach them by email to get a list of books they had in their bookstore, but no luck.  I realize that when people go to Europe to see a museum it is usually the Louvre in Paris, or maybe the Guggenheim in Venice.  My trip began at this very small museum and bookstore, but it did not end there.   After a few hours I left with a single book written in both English and Italian about the man.


Then I was off to Antibes to see the Picasso Museum.  Due to very creative travel contacts, I was able to rent a room over looking the Grimaldi Catstle for just 220 Euros for the week.  I climbed four flights of spiral stairs made of old marble. Now that is really French. 

Antibes is a very small ocean fortress town just West of Nice.  Biot is a craftsmanship village just outside of Antibes.   If you like modern cubism then go to the National Museum for Fernand Leger.   

And don’t pass up down the road the famous La Verrerie glass factory and pick up a bowl of this wonderful bubbled colored glasswork for a few Euros.
On the way back, why not stop off in a cafe for some snails.  You know I did!

And be sure to check out Jaume Plensa giant "Nomade" when you get back to Antibes. 

I never quite got Chagall, until I was standing in front of one of his gigantic paintings.  In books you never get the scope or size of a painting.  In person however, the Chagall Museum in Nice is overwhelming.

Not because of the number of images, but due to the power of Chagall’s work.  In the theater there is a set of his famous stain glass windows. 

The Matisse museum is just up the hill and is a great walk.  Don’t worry if it is a little warm because sorbet stations are everywhere in France and Italy. 

Photography is a hit and miss game in European Museums.  I could take pictures at the Luzatti, Chagall, Leger and Modern art museums but not at the Picasso or Matisse Museums

The collection is a tad eclectic at the Nice Museum of Modern art but the building is a great space.   If you get to the top you can get a view of Nice on these outdoor walkways.   The people watching was more entertaining than the art in this museum.  I will never forget the man who walked slowly from painting to painting, wearing cowboy boots, and a white mechanics jumpsuit.  

France is best at night.  I spent a lot of time walking after a late dinner, snapping photographs of the doorways and passageways of the old streets.

If you wish to find the best view of Nice, just East of the bay, there is a small hill with a water tower on it, and you can climb a pathway that takes you up to the top of this hill that overlooks the city and the bay.  It is the Parc de la Colline du Chateau.  There is a sorbet hut at the top and incredible view of the city and sea.

If you want a really nice Cote d’azure beach get on the train and just East is Villefranche sur Mer.  But don’t’ tell anyone because it is a secret.

Eventually, I had to be an adult and to return to California.  This was a difficult vacation, because the weather was ideal, the art I had seen fantastic, and those sorbet stations were a burden.  I checked into my flight, dreading speaking English again, with a copy of Luzzati in my hands the entire way home.

Because I am going to be honest with you about this trip, I just wanted the book.  All that other stuff I did and those pictures, well, I took those for you.  

And inside the  pages of that book,  I discovered an amazing artist of fantasy virtually unknown when compared to Picasso, Chagall, and Leger, but evert bit as rich. 
To be continued. 
p.s. if you have never been to the Cote-d-azure, go.  This trip I did completely on my own without a tour company.  I am a little brave because I can speak French, read Greek, bluff Spanish, smile through German, and was just curious about Italian. But have a plan because there is a lot to be seen in this area of Europe and I only covered a fraction of what I was able to see and do in two weeks here in this blog.