at the acquarium in Genova

The center of the old city of Genova

Travel day contained a bit of stress and anxiety. Because it has all turned out well, it was all adventure and a story t tell.

But first . . .

Our first full day in Genova and we are visiting the Acquario di Genova. I’ve been to a number of acquariums and this ranks with the best of them. Perhaps the best. Many of the exhibits are spotlighted in cool dark halls. I could have used a few more places to sit and take breaks but I have a kid who likes to read every description and look at tanks for a long time. Julia knew a surprising number of fish names and she learned more today. There is a cafe after the first long stretch for coffee or juice, although before the end of our tour I was ready to admit that we should have had more than a snack. An early panini lunch would have been a good idea as we missed lunch time in the restaurants. Exhibits are arranged on a number of floors with ample space between them. Elevators are placed where needed. Evocative, specifically not obnoxious, music accompanies some of the exhibits, not all. There is a lovely attention to detail, good signage in at least two, sometimes 4 languages. The fish seem happy, if fish are happy, and the exhibits are arranged to capture everyone. There is a specific Nemo exhibit where as many as the small fished of the movie reside together. I would say that children are thrilled with this one and so was I. Julia wore ear plugs most of the visit due to crying young children and echoey halls. What I especially liked was the opportunity to see a few of the large tanks from various views. The big shark tank from the water line enhanced the deep under water viewing site. I am usually not one to take pictures of fish but . . . Well, I did. I’ve read that a visit should last about 3 hours. We were there for five and Julia was reluctant to leave. It was really cool!

After pizza at one of the small open all day restaurants nearby (there is a McDonalds if necessary) we headed off to the biosphere.

And the afternoon was rather silly.

I’m always up for seeing a good garden or plant display and so, visiting the very large, clear plastic ball parked at a dock down from the acquarium was a no brainier; however, the biosphere is not at all impressive. There are a few nice animals–a white parrot, some sort of long billed pink bird and a few turtles– the plants are nothing special and the walk around, even slowly, takes all of 10 minutes.

Afterwards, we went to the Museo di Genoa, which was the third museum on our ticket. I did not check out what was in that museum, expecting that it was history related to the city and its port. It was, however, a sports museum and we were an odd pair of visitors.  The Genoa football club began as a cricket club founded by some British expats in the late 19th Century. Lots of pictures and memorabilia and videos but no English but we got the gist that a few decades after it was founded, they had a dedicated field, allowed Italians to play and turned to football. It wasn’t too long before it became all Italian and the pride of the city. Lots of trophies and badges. Neither of us peaked into the gift shop after the tour although it was interesting in a small way and our first sports museum. And I laughed at the possibility that someone I knew might have spied us watching soccer videos and was chuckling in some corner.

We walked home, finding a very small square with a very small church at the top of a long stairway.  There are tiny squares and tinier churches everywhere in the old part of town that is truly a labyrinth.  Many stairs and steep streets, some so narrow that Julia could stretch her arms out and touch both buildings on opposite sides of the street.  This is not an easy city to love.  It is gritty and old and patched and sometimes a bit scary.  And it hit me a number of times today that I can see literary references around the bends.  We walked down a staircase to a narrow red brick sidewalk and snapping a pic of Julia,  I began humming “Follow the yellow brick road.” As if things that belong to the fantastical are only something from ordinary life seen through squinted eyes.

We ate gelato, bought peaches, and then lazed around the room, a sweet room that is a half hour’s walk from most things. Julia did her school work and we watched a movie and turned in early. We’ve been eating very late for us in the Italian fashion and it feels a bit dull but somewhat necessary to get closer to our own schedule. We’ll see how that goes and what the morrow will bring.



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