We are lazy and utilitarian on Wednesday. If our hotelier did not want to clean and straighten the room, we might spend the day in it. We would be forced out for food. We are ready for a lazy vacation. It has only taken three weeks of intensive museuming.
Right after breakfast, we found a shop to launder clothes. It was a short walk from our B&B with filled backpacks and, thanks to a very nice older man who was also washing, we were guided through the process. Not quite as intuitive as one might think. All our clothes fit into one medium sized washer and so there was no division between darks and lights. I had just enough change to wash and so, once the washer, we had to find a bakery to get sweets and change. Julia has never waited for clothes to wash and dry–ah, a suburban kid life. She is fascinated and bored.
Once clothes were washed and folded, packing began. Everything still fits in our bags and I am able to keep our backpacks light for train travel. We have not, however, bought much to bring home. We have three more weeks to fill our bags.
We have not found the places in Genoa where one can just sit for hours to draw, read or write. I’m sure there are some, especially in the newer parts of the city, but we haven’t ventured far into modernity and too many benches in the old quarter are in the sun. This, most interesting part of the city, so possible a tourist attraction is not quite completely tourist friendly. Also, the well to do in Genova live further up the hills, reminding me of La Paz in Bolivia. It would be interesting to see a revival of the older city, to bring the upper classes back to the port. I have becomes fond of this difficult, idiosyncratic city.
We found a restaurant that had been recommended by our hotelier. Osteria di vico palla, conveniently located on Vico Palla. It is close enough to the Acquarium to have come there when we visited, but the city was still new then and I was still getting lost. The food is delightful. Fish extraordinaire! I ordered a antipasto, a pasta course and a fish course, thinking we could split all three. The frito misto–mixed fish and zucchini fried in a batter–was our antipasto and huge, even for two. Then we shares a spicy short pasta with cod and it was with great regret that I cancelled the third dish. We are leaving tomorrow and I am tempted to steal back here before we leave for lunch. It is that good.
Julia reminded me of a museum that we had overlooked on our first day, Museo Nazionale dell’Antartide, the museum of Antarctica. Italy is part is a multi-national exploration and research team, one of the research stations run by Italians. It is a small museum but very informative. I particularly enjoyed the reports on the fish and plant life of the waters of Antarctica. Most of the placards in front of displays are in Italian and English, the video commentary is in Italian but the videos mostly speak for themselves. We liked the video of early explorers from the beginning of the 20th century but watching how hard it was to travel around, eat and sleep, was enough to decide to forego such adventure.
We had a late supper–oh, so Italian! Visiting another hotelier recommendation. Fratelli La Bufala. It is a chain but not bad at all. The back garden was lovely to sit in, we needed an outdoor place in Genova away from street noise. The pizza was good and my tuna salad was a lovely supper. I have found it a challenge to find good salads and sometimes I just need them.
Today, Thursday, three trains, two connections, plus a cab to get from Genova to Orta San Giulia. There were a few mishaps at the beginning of our travels. In a train station in Queens, I found I was pulling Cheshire’s bag and not my own. She was going away for the weekend and we traded bags to help Julia get her bag down steps. For a moment, I contemplated Italy without clothes. I know, I know, they have stores in Italy. Some very nice stores in fact and we arrived in Torino at the beginning of a week of summer sales. But I am not a shopper and the idea of forced shopping filled me with dread. Then, we missed our stop the other day to San Margharita. So today I am careful, eyes on the stops and the clock and so far, so good.
We pass towns and farmland. Some corn, some short grain and something bushy green fills the fields. Last summer, in Tuscany in late June, we saw hay being harvested and bailed. Someone explained that’s a second crop would be planted soon. Perhaps what we are seeing now is second crops. Everything is very short. As we go north, it is dryer and irrigation canals are filled. There are 20 minutes between the second and third trains and I hope for a bathroom and a snack. Snack found–non-fast food–but no bathroom. Back on the train, we munch but I don’t let Julia take a sip from our water bottles. We’ll drink in 45 minutes.
A change in landscape. Near the sea, the stucco buildings are painted in pinks, oranges, yellows. Some vibrant, some sun washed, all self-conscious of their style. Many commercial properties have faux bricks painted on. Just two hours north, white is the predominant color, other colors, browns, mustards, pinks are respectfully faded and subtle. All the palm trees are gone and I recognize more of the garden shrubbery.
The train station is small. We get off with a handful of folks and the taxi is waiting. Thank goodness I called ahead. Driving the few kilometers into town, I think we may just be searching for the town with the narrowest streets. Orta San Giulio is a contender. It is small and pretty. We will take walks, a boat ride or two, nap, there is a beach close by but there is little in the way of entertainment or diversion.
I did not take pictures tonight. I need to just look at the pretty square, water and narrow streets. I sprang for a more expensive room than usual at Albergo Leon D’Oro and we have a tiny balcony with a view of the island in the middle of the lake. We also have a deep bathtub. We eat with a view of the lake. Ok, almost everywhere has a view of the lake. Everything looks like a picture and I can almost imagine that this is the Disney designed Italian town. The hotel is saved from Epcot cliche by the two older women who run it, and I imagine own it. They are gruff at best and unfriendly most of the time. After dinner, we walk two blocks to find Gelato da Arte. Julia picks pesca, peach, I fall back on pistachio. I think hers is better. I’ll get that tomorrow.