We are at a small restaurant in Nervi, 15 minutes by train from Genova and a much needed respite from the city. After a day of Genova yesterday, I was feeling a bit stressed. I resonate much more with the order of Torino than the chaos and grittiness of Genoa. Neither are real tourist towns, not like Roma or Florence. Last night, I wondered what we were going to do here for five more days. I wondered if my insistence on staying a week in each place we went to this year was an unwise decision. Yes, you can see the important sight of Genova in two days. And at least for me, the important sights of any town provide a way to get to know the place. Walking to and from the sights, taking in the sight’s surroundings and finding how a city is put together is what I do. Those sights provide destinations when I am not ready to wander and then landmarks when I can wander.
Yesterday’s sights did not quite satisfy. Again, to say that Genova is not a tourist town. We visited three great houses along one street which have been converted to public art galleries-Palazzo Bianco, Palazzo Rosso and Palazzo Doria Tursi. We toured saints and Jesus pictures with some of the Roman pantheon thrown in. The palazzos were designed with rooms opening to balconies to catch the breeze; however, for whatever reason, plexiglass barriers have been put up to keep most rooms from those breezes and there is no airconditioning, resulting in a rather stuffy visit. There was supposed to be audio guides to the palaces but there were none when we bought tickets (and the galleries were not crowded). Names and painters were on the pictures but no context provided in any language. We enjoyed what we saw but I missed some context and had not researched enough time provide my own. In the Palazzo Doria Tursi, we saw the favorite violin of Niccolò Paganini which he called Il Cannone Guarnerius. He was a son of Genoa. The gift of his favorite to the city is sweet and touching. He did sell many of his instruments to pay debts from time to time. His life was not simple or easy and yet, all that I know of him is music and brilliance.
Any time there is a garden connected to a palace, we visit t. She me are breathtakingly beautiful, some could use a bit of love. But the garden connecting Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Doria Tursi is most curious. You see it has a few big tress in it, not unusual for an old garden except that it is on the roof of what we call the first floor. right now, this first floor serves to sell tickets and as a book shop. And above it is a garden with trees! I have no idea where the roots go. Genoa is terrassed city. It sits against high hills and mountains and so the city climbs upwards from the port. There are many roof gardens but I have not seen any like this. It needs some tending and Julia set to straightening up the mulch while I stood amazed. This is a mystery for me to solve.
We also found the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, a lovely stripped church. It it a peculiar mixture of fine finishes and rough hewed walls. The reason seems to be that it was heavily damaged, in part, during the war. World War II. I got the impression that there is still hope that the walls will someday be restored.
Walking around the old town of Genova is challenging. We were lost time after time and some of the narrow streets feel unsafe. Following mapping directions, we wandered into a street of prostitutes. It was rather classic with young girls in very short skirts and dresses waiting in front of doorways. It was a scene that someone could have seen 20, 50 years ago. The only bow to modernity was the cell phones that each girl stared into. A long time ago, on Cheshire’s first trip to Paris, we found the same kind of street and imagined that the occupations of the ladies went over her head. I think the same of Julia here.
Last night, we slept and sleep did wonders. I am finally sleeping long and well and waking up just before 8:30. Our B&B is lovely and convenient, the innkeeper extremely helpful. We are off to Nervi, a small seaside town 15 km away from Genova to walk along the sea and to visit a garden. I think most of the people on out crowded train have the same idea.