Nervi on the Sea

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A pool cut into the rock down the steps from the promenade in Nervi.

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. Continue reading

Genoa, second day

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From the roof top of Palazzo Rosso

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. Continue reading

at the acquarium in Genova

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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. Continue reading

thoughts on leaving Torino

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Cafe breakfast

Looking back at Torino now that we’ve spent 24 hours in Genova, I see the almost quiet elegance in the streets fully acknowledging the gold on gold of the palazzo reale.  Not to mention all those giant canvases.  Miles of colonnaded streets give shade and shelter for generations of walkers.  I heard some story that they were built so that the weather would not impede royals in need of exercise.  The small streets of the city centro still allows for sun to touch the cobble stones.   Continue reading

also Torino

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This is our last full day in Torino and I started it rather grumpy. We have seen many of the sights on my list; we’ve spent time with our friends and enjoyed their company and also enjoyed sharing in some typical life activities–cooking at home, a Pilates class, driving around the city looking at neighborhoods and eating much gelato. They have take us to the country for a slow Sunday dinner of typical food, to their favorite pizza restaurant and to their favorite graniti cafe.  And still, I seem to want more. We are staying longer in each place we visit this year and today I still feel like we have just arrived and we are getting ready to leave. The week has gone so by very quickly. It does takes us a long time to settle in, it takes me a long time to recognize streets and places I’ve passed before. Am I too greedy to want to understand and take in more? Continue reading

Torino touring

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Lots of touring these last two days.

We saw a bit more than half of the Museo Nazionale del Cinema in three hours on Monday.  Granted we move slowly and Julia loves to read placards and listen to audio tours.  There are many rave reviews of this museum on the internet with which I totally agree.  My caveat being simply that you need a love of cinema and should have seen a healthy dose of Italian cinema in your lifetime to fully enjoy it.  Of course, Julia has never seen an Italian movie let alone watched the classics of  Zeffirelli, Rossellini, Visconti and Bertolucci and she enjoyed herself.  The museum is in the Mole Antonellina. Originally planned as a vast synagogue when Turin was briefly the capital of Italy and eventually  taken over by the city, it is a strange and fascinating structure.  We visited last year to go to the top of the tower and now we went to the museum.  I would love to know how it would have been utilized as a synagogue.  It might have been an excellent house of worship in its present incarnation for David. Continue reading

Torino & La Venaria Reale

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From Saturday.

It is almost noon. I have been up since 7; Julia still snores. I had hoped to walk to the big Vodafone store and get a data card for my iPad, the smaller store where I was able to get the card last year, no longer sells them. I can’t leave Julia, even sleeping, for a long walk. I unpacked and sorted out bags, had breakfast with coffee, talked to various members of the house, walked the dog with my friend, had a short Italian lesson with my friend and now have some writing time. I am almost ready for the nap I promised myself. And yet, I don’t have the heart to awaken my princess. She lived on two hours of sleep yesterday stolen on the plane ride. I am impatient to become acclimated to this place and to be out exploring. This is away so the way I am at the beginning of traveling. Julia is just obeying her body’s need for rest.

So, should I wake her at noon? Continue reading

lessons, gardens & travel plans

The days just move along and move along.  It is all a-whirl.

Seventh grade ends tomorrow.  This is only the second time that Julia has greeted summer with enthusiasm.  She understands enough about time to appreciate breaks.  I find the transition from school to vacation unnerving.  Work in school has been on the wane.  Her big “country project” for social studies was finished two weeks ago.  Her last book review and spelling test about a week ago.  Math has dribbled to a close. Continue reading

curmudgeon cracking

julia swinging in the apple orchard.

I’ve been wallow-y lately.  Lots of stuff going on and little of it easy or smooth.  Last week, I cried to the universe: Can’t anything in my life go smoothly!?  I think the universe answered: no.  Honestly, when I get like this, I’d really like to climb out of my skin and give it away.  Who in their right mind would take it?  

Self pity.  Ugly, messy stuff.  A gaggle of quotations run through my mind.  I get it.  Self pity. A dangerous elixir.  

Pouts:

The school year is not winding down gracefully.  Julia was late to school six days in a row.  A lack of focus on doing the tasks at hand is the raison d’être — redressing a doll, picking up some reading, working on a lego piece has all taken precedence to getting washed, dressed and ready.  The loss of focus happens in an instant, my back turns, I make my bed, I run downstairs to start the kettle.  And Julia has been disrespectful to teacher twice this week — refusing work, speaking inappropriately, being generally mean.  I live in dead fear that this will escalate and mark her as a trouble maker.  I fear alienating the very people, her teachers, who are her lifeline to the world. Continue reading

hunting airfare – part 2

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Julia waiting for a cab to leave Torino, 2015.

Travel News:  (1) I bought summer plane tickets. (2) I pricelined a Chicago hotel room for the weekend to visit Julia’s vision therapy doctor and her naturopath.

Travel News Fallout:  Julia, on hearing of the travel plans, is ready to spend our entire week in England exploring Harry Potter related sites.

I have been hunting and gathering for a few weeks.  I waited a week too long and saw airfare prices creep up, not by much, but, related to that, flights filled up.  There was slim pickings for our seats to Milan.  After I chose ours, there were another 8 seats left in the economy section and the only two seats together did not recline.  I bought ten weeks before travel.  There were no incredible deals that I could find after the  twelve week point.  And definitely less choice.  To be sure, there are last minute deals to be found if one could wait it out but I begin talking to Julia about a weekend in Chicago a few weeks before we go.  A month in Italy is not something to spring on her. Continue reading