26 January 2011

It’s the principality of the thing.

From Nice airport we boarded a bus with ‘Versace’ emblazoned in massive lettering along the side. Bringing to mind the world of haute couture, it just happened to be the name of the family who had  a bus company.  Actually I saw a lot of businesses with Italian names while in that area.
Driving from Nice to Monaco, we seemed to be very high up in the mountains. The landscape was steep and arid, with the houses and tufts of vegetation jutting out at improbable angles. The trees didn’t so much grow upwards as lean forwards. The houses seemed to be constructed vertically against patches of bare rock.
We came to a town, and I noticed a lot of the signposts were relating to Monaco and Monte Carlo. There had been no border check that I was aware of but, here we were – already.  Maybe there had been a sign and I’d missed it.  The rusty landscape changed shade to a more cultivated terracotta. Every wall and every building was a shade of yellow, brown or orange. As I looked around at all the peaches, browns and lemons, I felt as if somebody had turned down the blue.
And that was Monaco. Local businesses displayed photographs of the royal family, the marina was full of impossibly luxurious yachts and the cars were all new and shiny. Oh - and one of the shops in the town had a diamond-studded Kalashnikov in the window.  Apart from that, though, the whole state consists, more or less, of a seaside town. And like all seaside towns, it’s a bit over-priced.

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