Friday, September 5, 2014

Genova Day 1

What is it about being out of the country and relaxed that I just cant get my ass in gear in the morning?  McC and I set the alarm for enough time to get cappuccini before getting on the train but we didnt get to it. Dragging our luggage through the pedestrian tunnel and back down La Fegina, we then lugged it upstairs to a cafe to wait for the train. We ended up seeing some other Americans we ran into a couple nights before at Via Venti. Cinque Terre is popular with Americans, most likely due to Rick Steves guidebooks. Granted, its a pretty awesome place to go. Once again we had to run to the opposite end of the train for the first class carriage (hello shin splints!). It was a nice uneventful ride back through Liguria to Genova.
Even though I'm a history major, I'm more familiar with Roman occupation of Europe and the Church's continuance of power in the region. However, a specialist on Genova I am not, outside the basic knowledge of it being a city-state and being a maritime republic. Our cab driver gave us some great tips on things to see and do, and things to stay away from. We chilled out in our hotel room for a couple hours before venturing out to see the city. We're on the third floor and have a balcony right off the Via XX Settembre.
First stop was the Piazza de Ferrari. Those who know me from my veterans work know why I wanted to see that. Hahaha. We continued across the street to a theater school which had a giant sculpture of Italian national hero, Giuseppe Garibaldi, in front of it. Italy wouldn't be a unified country without him so thats a pretty important monument.
Around the corner we went and ended up at the Palazzo Ducale, which is where the rulers of Genova lived. It was the afternoon so we were only able to get tickets to the tower and the gaol (jail). McC and I got up to the roof area and were given hard hats. We didn't know why until we saw how short the doorways were. I'm a lot taller than McC to begin with but even she had to duck. Medieval Genovese must have been pretty damn short, like near 5'1, because those doorways only came up to my shoulder. After climbing extremely steep stairs to the top of the tower we were treated to spectacular views of the city. Genova is a very dense city, the typical Renaissance architecture where they built up becuse you can't build out in a fortified town. Next was the gaol where political dissidents, pirates and even Garibaldi were kept. They were pretty dismal and not easily escaped. McC and I took a bunch of silly pictures with our hard hats and standing in the jail cells, trying not to giggle too loud and have the old man with the hard hats get mad.
Afterward we checked out the Cathedrale di San Lorenzo from the piazza because I left my scarf in the room to cover my shoulders. We kept walking and after turning onto Via Dante, were soon standing in front of the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. A few steps past the tiny house, there is a neoclassical courtyard commemorating 500 years of the Genovese republic,  and just past that one of the original gate towers to the city, the Porto Soprana.
We were getting hungry by then but really didn't want a huge meal like we had at Miky the night before so we opted for lighter Italian fare. We intentionally got lost in the narrow alleys and walkways of Genova looking for a salumeria to buy some meats and cheeses. I translated and we ordered salami toscano and some brie, along with a bottle of wine. I had olives and auricchio I had bought in Cinque Terre to go with it. A quick stop at a bakery to get some bread and my favorite occhi marmellata cookies and we were off. Best low key dinner ever and that wine was outstanding, even though it was only €9!
Tomorrow is a full day and we can't wait to see the churches!

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