On the Aperitivo Trail, Genova

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. 

Sometimes ... I just get quietly lost

…And that’s why i have to go back
to so many places
there to find myself
and constantly examine myself
with no witness but the moon
and then whistle with joy,
ambling over rocks and clods of earth,
with no task but to live,
with no family but the road.

Pablo Neruda

I found Pablo Neruda's words in my inbox, via The Quotationist, and I thought 'yes'.  Sometimes I just need 'the road' because ...

These days have been dizzy, giddy, fast-moving days.  And in recognition of the pace and insanity, I am quietly developing this habit of throwing myself back at my bed on a Sunday - to read and nap and sleep and rest because I have been tired.

I returned from Italy and stepped straight into 10+ days with the delightful Miss 7.  She had 8 of those days off school but we read a lot of Harry Potter, walked in the park, talked about interesting things and maybe we had quite some fun.

My stepdaughter arrived for a few days too.  And I was cleaning and cooking and slipping back into this life while trying not to think about the fact that my daughter and her daughter are moving countries soon. 

I'm fortunate.  Their destination is no longer that small South American village, reachable only by horseback ... that place where tarantulas and scorpions are commonplace.  And it's no longer New Zealand ... some 16,000kms away from me.

Instead, it's just next door, over in Germany.  I can do that.

Gert used his environmentally-friendly gift cheques to buy me a bicycle ... a brand new one.  The first brand new bicycle I've ever owned but that's a whole other story that needs blogging, with photographs.  I love my new bike though.

I've been putting together my book on Genova, and editing it ... because I edit.  It's not a good thing.  It may be that I'm seeking perfection ... just perfection.  So yes, I need someone to take my first draft from me, as I write, and not let me edit until the whole thing is done.  I know this thing about me but I'm not sure of the solution. 

And I have received the first draft of the story of a special wine and a family and their friends in Italy.  I can't wait to write that up and share the photographs with you.  It's one of those stories that make me smile whenever I think on it.

I have made a yoga date and hope to become a creature who rescues herself with the practice of yoga.

Paola, Simon and Matteo came to dinner on Saturday night.  It was good to sit down and catch up with them again.  They bought wine ... my beloved Banfi.  Gert cooked a pie from The Hairy Bikers Perfect Pies Cookbook.   It was lovely, although we're still experimenting with pastries here in this country that doesn't sell the New Zealand pastry I knew and loved.

On Friday, I was running all over Brussels, meeting with the most delightful people.  First stop was my accountant ... she who rescues me from the hellish complication of daring to be self-employed in Belgium.  Then on to Paola, to return her Genova keys and catch up.  And then a little further, to the inspiring New Zealand artist, wise woman, and friend, Wendy Leach.

Oh, and I sold a photograph that will be published in a book.  News to follow when that all comes to fruition.

Hmmmm, Stephanie and Catalina came to dinner last Wednesday night, and I had a tooth rebuilt on the Tuesday ... a second tooth.  I do appreciate my wonderful Belgian dentist.

There was an English church fete on Sunday with Stephanie, Catalina, Miss 7 and I ... and a phone call home to my dad because he turned 76.  And on it goes.  You see the giddy mad slide that is my life?

But I think I  must love it because nothing ever changes.  It's always kind of mad and chaotic and full of good people, and frustrations, and things slipping through my fingers, or arriving - in all their beauty - in front of me.

Anyway, all that to say that I haven't been quite so bloggy lately but I will be again ... soon.