As always, there were so many stories in Genova, so many I intended to write up but I arrived back in my Belgian life and there were more stories unfolding. The end result is that a handful of stories are told and the others ... well, they just stay with me, as memories to be sifted through or written up later.
I was winding up my stay in Genova back in July when Simon flew in on that second last evening. He had 12 hours in the city, as he was dropping his son off with his mother-in-law. We had a choice for dinner that night - a simple dinner someplace or an aperitivo-style exploration of the city.
Nothing new for Simon, as he knows the city well. Paola, his lovely Genovese wife and friend of mine, owns the apartment I stay in when I'm there. He spent a few years living there and they return when they can, from their Belgian life.
And so it was that we began with aperitivo at Cafè il Barbarossa. They offer a lovely outdoor setting, an extensive cocktail menu, and they're only a few steps from the apartment. He chose a cocktail and I remained boringly loyal to my beloved red wine.
We wandered over to Mentelocale Cafè. Simon selected another cocktail while I continued with red wine. You should know that each drink comes with a range of snacks. It's a lovely 'other' way to have dinner. We moved on after a while to a place that was rather more upmarket. Their buffet selection of snacks was rather divine.
The first photograph, in the series below, was taken with Simon's phone. No other cameras were on this particular expedition. The cocktail you see was called the Missionary's Downfall. Simon wisely stayed with rum-based cocktails and admitted he could see how the taste of that particular drink might have led missionaries to let themselves down some.
The second photograph was taken after my second glass of wine and is more about the humour of the moment than the amount of wine consumed. Actually, that evening was so very warm and humid that I very sensibly matched every glass of wine with water ... more or less. Maybe not enough but an effort was made.
We wandered down into the caruggi, looking for a particular bar somewhere off Via Canneto il Lungo but I think it was closed and so we wandered on, ending up in the piazza that tends to be the pulse of city life in the evenings ... Pizza delle Erbe.
It was there that Simon decided it was time he stepped away from the cocktails and he embarked on a more sedate exploration of red wines available. Having complained, long and loud, over photographs he had taken of me and posted on Facebook, I saw a photo-op as Simon relaxed at this outdoor bar and there he is, at the end of this photo selection, with a facial expression I'd not seen before. It had to be recorded for posterity ... or perhaps as payback for the horrors he had posted earlier in the evening.
Veronica had had to chide him for a small degree of 'mean' over those postings. Thank you, Veronica, your loyalty was appreciated.
I cannot tell you how nice it is to sit outside on warm summer's night, in a small piazza in Italy, drinking red wine and chatting while the Italians surround you with all of their conversations. I think it's one of the things I love best but rarely do, as I'm mostly alone while there.
We ended the evening at my favourite pizzeria ... in the world. Seriously. The most excellent pizzas can be found there and the owners are lovely. We split a pizza, there was a little more red wine, a conversation with the pizzeria owners and voila, we were done.
Thank you for a most excellent evening spent wandering Genovese streets, Mr Litton, and to Paola who guided us when Simon was lost in the maze that is the caruggi.