How to Arrive in Genova ...

I think I arrive once there are flowers on the kitchen table ...

Here in Genova there is always someplace to buy flowers and Paola’s round dining table invites flowers, even if I still haven’t quite organised a vase. Today one of my water bottles has been sawn-off to play hostess to flowers bought at a market on Piazza Scio where we also discovered a large market and the sweetest smallest tomatoes.

These last few days have been days of long conversations, where two old friends caught up on 5 years of absence and massive life changes.  We reminisced, laughed over pizzas and red wine, caught boats and journeyed through that favourite space we most enjoy – the place where the land meets the sea.

Genova was good to us, providing us with the very best foccacia at the beginning of each day or, on alternate days, unbelievably good breakfast cappuccino.  We had days of wandering, cherry gelato, inexpensive yet good red wines, slow mornings and late nights.

Pippa came to me 2 weeks out of New Zealand, via Haiwaii and Vienna, and our 5 days passed quicky.  Yesterday we caught a train to Milan to say goodbye at an airport bus stop in a city on fire with heat and humidity.  We talked through the 2 hour train trip to Milan, and then, after the goodbye, I possibly became one of the few people to have travelled with a slightly nervous, world-wandering friend, from Genova through to Milan only to leave her boarding her airport bus while I returned on another train within the hour and head straight back to Genova.

That would be the train where the air-conditioning in my carriage was broken.  Being a creature who prefers heat not too much above 20 celsius yesterday was a struggle and I struck out in search of a cool place only to find myself standing on tiptoes in a corridor, trying to catch something of the slightly cooler breeze as it came in through a high window. 

A very short elderly woman spotted the breeze in my hair, and came to stand in front of me, continuing to fan herself furiously as the breeze was never going to reach her.  We all laughed, her son too, and I resisted the temptation to offer to hoist her up to the high window.

imageEventually a harried, sweating conductor came to our rescue and led us through to carriage 5 ... or I think that was what he was saying.  I flopped into an air-conditioned 6 seat carriage with two men who left at the next stop.  I could only smile over my own paranoia that they were moving away from this smelly foreign woman.

Those last tunnels before Genova held us captive longer than necessary, as our train queued to weave its way into the main station ... the station I didn’t really know how to get ‘home’ from.

I read bus stop lists and decided on Bus 33, it would reach Piazza De Ferrari eventually and I was too tired to do more than smile as Bus 33 climbed up into the hills behind Genova and took me around my destination, the one marked out clearly by the giant ERG sign down there near the old centre ... round and then down.

I saw the city from the heights and its a beautiful city ...

In these days of wandering without intending to talk, I have discovered some truly special people anyway ... the lovely man with the vegetarian cafe, who has since asked if one of my photographs of him might be used in an article for the Corriere della Sera; the man and his wife with the farinata shop close by and the pizza people… 

imageThe woman who sells me my breakfast foccacia discovered I come from Nuova Zelanda today ... we reached a point of understanding and agreement via gestures and our few words in common, regarding the fact that we both loved our countries of origin but admired each other’s too.

The cafe where my favourite cappuccino is made is called Cafe Boomerang, in honour of the owner’s visit to Australia, and the gelato guy had an ‘I love you!‘moment when he realised I wanted the details of his shop for this website.

The internet cafe people are just as I left them last year but the vegetarian cafe has free wifi too, so I’ll wander between them, so as not to seem too internet needy perhaps ...

There is so much here in this tiny corner of the city, so much to love.  I’m holidaying with Gert for a few days now, trying not to talk to or photograph interesting strangers but it’s difficult.

Even the man operating the boat trips to Camogli, San Fruttuoso and Portofino is going to cycle New Zealand next year.

It’s good to be out ...

Ciao for now.