Nervi, a smallish town and beach resort on the outskirts of Genova.
Today is about indulgence. We find the Parki di Nervi and the rose garden that our hotelier told us about and just to one side of it is a villa turned into an art museum. Paintings and small bronzes from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, plus a few video pieces that expose Julia to the unrest of the 1960’s. We are almost alone in the villa turned gallery and the three workers follow us around, turning on lights, ushering us room to room and tinkering with the video. They want us to leave so they can enjoy lunch or their solitude. The work favors impressionists mostly and the small bronzes please. Julia asks why so many pictures have naked people and I try to explain the miracle of the human body. For her, it is still embarrassing.
There is more park to see. Lots of families and couples out on blankets enjoying the sun. It is good to be in the green. Julia has begun to ask about words, “how do you say bread?” “Girl?” “What does that sign say?” I didn’t expect the interest.
We search for a recommended restaurant and when we find it, there is a line, so we find something else. I order a glass of prosecco, my newest favorite. They do not sell glasses, so I opt for a split and set to drink twice what I usually drink at lunch, no, at any time of day. Slightly tipsy, we share an antipasto of grilled calamari and zucchini, and then eat our pasta. My a spaghetti con vongola (clams) and for Julia, fuisilli with pesto. Pesto is another Genoese speciality and one of us indulge every change we get.
And focacia! In Torino, it is the bread sticks, in Genoa, it is the focacia. The Genoese make the best. I want an entire basket of each in their respective home courts at every restaurant I go to. We found a recommended focacia place and now delight in taking some back to our room for small supper.
We walk the passage way above the sea. The day is clear and all of Genoa has come to the beaches. Italian women, with bodies no better than mine, wear bikinis and two piece bathing suits. And not with apologies in their eyes. Their confidence inspires awe. Julia wants to go back to our hotel and I want to linger. I think we have just missed a train and the next one will be in a half hour.
I contend happily with messy gardens and weedy parks. I find the order and overview easily in nature. This is an excellent break from the city chaos. Could I live at a beach?
People on rocks sun themselves like turtles. These are rocky beaches and huge rocks jutting out into the sea. There are dozens of peaceful coves and naturally flat rock on which to spread towels. There is a pool dug out of the rock. Should we come back on Tuesday? I look for a shady bench, finding here that most sit in sun.
There is little English here. No one offers to help me with the menu. Lovely. I look up what I need to–thank goodness for google translate–and arrive at an antipasto and two primas. Are there really people who eat three courses for any meal? I can manage one and a half nicely. More and I am stuffed.
I order terimisu for Julia and it is perfect. Last summer, we split our desserts and by the end of traveling, she wanted to eat much more than half. Today, it is hers minus three spoonfuls that I need to taste.
I listen to the music of Italian with little understanding. I can overhear almost anything and never be accused of spreading rumors. It is almost better than silence. I have my own thoughts without interruption. I can speculate but not more than I decide.
We walk the red brick promenade along the sea. Beaches and inviting rock are right below us and we pass narrow staircases to them. Julia is not quite ready to swim but she holds up her dress and walks into the surf. It is a hot day and the cold water is heaven.