Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Genova on the Coast

Stazione Piazza Principe
 "It abounds in the strangest contrasts; 
things that are picturesque, ugly, mean, 
magnificent, delightful, and offensive, 
break upon the view at every turn.” 
~ Charles Dickens on Genova

"One of the Tripadvisor reviews I read said the hotel is a 10-15 minute walk from the train station," I mentioned to Mike as we got ready to leave Lucca this morning.

"We can do that," he replied.  I wasn't too sure.  His feet are not swelling like hot air balloons every afternoon. "That's pretty close. If you have a problem, we'll get a taxi the rest of the way."

When we arrived at Stazione Genova Piazza Principe, I checked the map on my iPad, and we took off.  Genova, unlike some other towns in Italy (Modena!) actually has street signs, so we were in great shape.  We walked for about five minutes, and I thought I'd better check the iPad again.

"We walked past the street it's on," I said to Mike.

Our hotel room's living room

"How did we do that?" he wanted to know.  I know that he asks these as rhetoric questions, but I take them as a real question.  That means, of course, that I rolled my eyes.

"I have no idea.  We have to turn around."  We walked back up the slight hill for a few blocks.  "Let me check one more time."  I looked at the trusty iPad, and the flashing blue dot that was us was right in front of Hotel Continental...except that we were in front of a bar and farmacia.  "Let me ask the guy in the bar."  Said guy laughed and told me we ad to walk another 20 feet or so up the street, and we'd see the hotel.  Sure enough, it was right there.

 We checked in and found that they upgraded us to a suite. In addition to the bedroom and bathroom, we had a kitchen with eating space and a full living area (photo above).

Frozen pizza

"Holy crap," I exclaimed.  "I think the whole Lucca apartment can fit in this living room."

"Both the Lucca and Bologna apartments can fit in this living room," he quipped.  He was probably right.


After we got settled, we decided to head out to lunch and then take the Red Bus (Stop! Go!) around the city. We stopped at Ristorante Trieste and shared a pizza (above).  It took forever, but the waitress finally delivered it. We just stared at it.

"What's on top of it?" It looked to me like some kind of cheese puffs.

"Cheese, I think," Mike replied. "The pizza in the picture behind you has a lot more cheese on it."

"It's hot." I was trying to be positive, but it was horrible pizza.  I honestly think they took our order and ran to the Coop grocery store down the street, bought a frozen pizza, and cooked it.

As we paid, I asked the cashier for a business card, and she was more than happy to give me one because she thought that I was either going to come back or going to write a very nice review on Tripadvisor.  Oops.

Christopher Columbus Park (note the 3 ships)

We walked to the Porto Antico (Old Port) and caught the Genoa City Tour bus which is different from both the Genoa Red Bus and the Trenino Pippo, a tourist train.  All three basically take tourists around the city pointing out attractions while whizzing by without stopping.  Take, for example, the photo of the park above.  As we hurtled past it, the recording said was Christopher Columbus Park, and it somehow honored Columbus, who was born in the city. (Interesting fact that I did *not* learn from our tour: Christopher Columbus donated 10% of his income from the discovery of the Americas to Genova to help the poor.)
Trompe L'oile
One interesting thing I learned on the tour was trompe l'oile was popular in Genova, and many architects utilized trompe l'oile on the old buildings. If you've never heard of trompe l'oile, it's a technique in which the artist paints something to create an optical illusion.  The painted object appears to be three-dimensional when, in fact, it is flat.  The building above is a good example.  Its façade is perfectly flat, but it appears to have columns and frames around the window.

Underwear hanging out to dry
 "I think I know why I'm not crazy about this city already," I mentioned to Mike as we walked back to our hotel.  "It reminds me of Naples. It's an old port city, the buildings are on top of each other, and underwear is hanging everywhere (photos above and below).

More underwear drying in city center
"It's just how it is," he replied. "Port cities tend to be like this.  I was thinking it doesn't really seem Italian as there is such an eclectic mix of people here."  We had noticed a lot of foreigners working in the port area. 

Underwear in courtyard by hotel

"It's disgustingly dirty," I added.  "They need to take a bunch of power washers. to these buildings"

 "They have porticoes."  My husband is no dummy. He knows I love porticoes.

"They're not like the porticoes in Bologna," I said.  "Did you notice they hang neon signs from the arches? They use the porticoes like billboards (photos below)."

Rolex neon arches

"I hadn't noticed." 

 I did. Things like that tend to bother me because they ruin the architecture.  It's the same with the stupid wraps that they put on buildings in Las Vegas (and in Venice. Come on! It's the Bridge of Sighs, not the Bridge of Buy Michael Kors Now!.) It's bad enough that taggers spray graffiti all over the walls, but now legitimate stores are shoving neon and plastic in front of our faces. 

"If I were mayor," I said to Mike who was, as usual, NOT listening to me, "I'd buy a bunch of power washers and spray the crap off of the buildings.  Then I'd hire a couple hundred painters to paint over the graffiti, and I'd yank the neon off of the porticoes. Finally, I'd pass a law that you couldn't
Neon arches
 hang your underwear out the window in the city center during business hours.  I'd clean this city up."   Mike said nothing because if he did hear me, he knew that people of Genova have nothing to worry about because the likelihood of my returning to Genova is slim.

On our way back to the hotel, we walked through an area that was full of little markets and such, and we saw sepia, a type of cuttlefish that is popular in this area (photo below).  Cuttlefish are not really fish but mollusks that are related to octopus and squid.  The cuttlefish are like chameleons in that they can change color and camouflage themselves to hide from predators.  I think that the sepia we passed had changed color to blend in with the grime on all of the buildings around the port.

You have to agree that it could be true...

No comments:

Post a Comment