Our last full day in Genoa. A Monday which was to have some bearing on activities. Firstly we found the breakfast buffet much less crowded. There is a super choice available, even bacon and eggs for the diehards, or die youngs!
Once out and about it was to the Porte Soprano to gaze at one of the old gates of the city. Beyond the two turrets a tiny and delicate cloister and below the purported house of Christopher Columbus. Lou was more interested in a car park stuffed with scooters! 🙂
The museum and the apparent entrance to the only remaining part of the city walls was closed….on Mondays. We walked along its supposed route hoping to catch a glimpse of it but no.
However, there was a church I was keen to see and so began the frustrating task of matching map to the reality around one. Lou sat on a wall while I checked out likely candidates. Genoa seems to have a church on every corner. Walking together up a side street we found the end of that wall, open to all and sundry. Tant pis!
Another bout of map reading and we plunged back into the alleyways. Suddenly pretty ceramic plaques began to appear and the search became much easier. In the nick of time too as Lou was beginning to lose his sense of humour. The church was tucked up a steep and twisty street and was magnificent inside.
As I wandered about inside a guide approached me and offered an English tour and access to the treasures. My ‘treasure’ would have combusted at the idea of a long wait and, to be honest, charming as the lady was, standing next to her was like being beside an overloaded dirty ashtray. But she was keen to share her knowledge and when I remarked how amazed I always was that the church paintings etc survived the many upheavals over time eg the last war, she pounced and told me the French bombardment in 1684 was the worst and then later Napoleon turning everywhere republican. Note to self, brush up on European history! Also, she continued, the Genoa museum covets the paintings and she pointed to one painted by a student of Caravaggio. As I left she switched on a chapel light and persuaded me to look at a retable painted by a young man of 21 in the mid 1400s. There is a legend that, annoyed at not being paid for his work, he painted six toes on one of the saints. I counted, there were six!
As I took the above photo she told me about another church that has chapels devoted to the workmen. Guilds? I asked. Ah, yes, she replied, ‘i am Russian and I learnt my English many years ago’. I left her lighting up a fag outside.
Rejoining Lou, we walked down to the harbour side and along to the very old arcades known as sopporive and had coffee outside one of the tiny bars. We discussed how so many buildings in Genoa have been built on the remains of much earlier ones rather than knocking everything flat and starting again.
We decided to look for a trattoria for our evening meal that I had looked up online as we were close-ish to it. Crossing piazza banchi a blonde woman was playing what sounded like a south American flute. As we approached she started to sing. A beautiful contralto voice and one of my favourite pieces of music, ‘summertime’. A moment to pause awhile.
At the trattoria the lovely owner was very sorry but they were closed that evening and only opened at lunch as they were celebrating her daughter’s birthday that afternoon. She dashed inside and came back with a recommendation of another place but was concerned it, too, would be shut. I googled it later and it was! Monday strikes again.
Back to base to rest the feet and Google nearby eateries. A trattoria came up in the next street so off we went. A very humble and higgledy piggledy place. We sat at a long table and struggled with a handwritten menu with no translation. But it was fine, stuffed anchovies, his with chips, mine with aubergine, plus beer and Fanta, 14 euros the lot. A busy place with the locals and popular. Not surprising.
After the debacle of the funicular, I had identified an art deco elevator in the guide book that promised an interesting view of rooftops. Quite near the hotel and close to another possible evening meal location. (That was closed for holidays). The elevator was nothing special but the floor was pretty.
The view was ok and the area more upmarket than below. The other lift was closed but we decided to walk down. The street was steep and paved with narrow bricks that reminded me of the bricks used for houses in Tarn and Garonne. At the sides there were shallow steps which made the vertiginous hill easier to negotiate. The houses were burnt orange and yellow ochre with doors and windows grills painted in dark glossy green. Quite a change from below.
As we stumbled off the hill we found ourselves on via Garibaldi and opposite the ice cream shop. We thought we were wise to this now and ordered small cones. Alas, huge again. Lou stopped her adding more ice-cream halfway! As we finished I realised we weren’t far from the church the guide lady had mentioned. With a long suffering sigh Lou agreed to help me find it. We took an alleyway from the posh, UNESCO museums area and walked into a narrow, gloomy and scruffy netherworld. I began to notice women sitting on doorsteps and realized we were in the red light district. Ladies with everything on offer who met your glance with defiant glares. I wondered if the city licences them as they seemed quite open as they stood on alley corners and chatted to one another. In the midst of the nastiest, narrowest, darkest alley a stone wall and archway appeared and there was the church. Large outside and monumental inside, ornately decorated on every available surface. While I was gawping a chap gave Lou a leaflet in English explaining the history of the place. So many big churches down tiny alleyways. Rich and poor cheek by jowl.
Exhausted by now it was back to the hotel and then down to Delle Erbe for pizza. Home to pack for Bologna