Photographed ... in the Carrugi, Genova

The author of Dear Miss Fletcher published one of my photographs, the one where I captured her at work in her beautiful city.

I saw her there in the distance and broke my promise not to photograph her.  But really, I would have deleted if she hadn't approved.  In this instance she felt it was the perfect photograph of her and here you have her.

I still remember her walking me through streets I had walked so often but without an intimate knowledge of the secrets they held.  And so often she would turn to me and tell me, 'I have something to show you ...'  

And so often, she did.

Old Friends, & New ...

I haven't talked with Tanya since we were teenagers.  We reconnected via Facebook and soon worked out that catching up was something we'd like to do ... next time she was in Europe.

Tanya and Ruby flew arrived on Tuesday, postponed by a day due to the very 'special' union strike actions taking place here ... that would be the one that shut down the international airport on Monday. 

We picked up where we'd left off really and it's been a marvelous few days of stories and laughter.  Some wine too.  There will be photographs but for the most part, talking has taken precedence. 

Old friends from far-away are good friends.

Meanwhile I'm told Christmas is approaching.  I don't see it  ... there are no Dawsons cherries on display, no strawberries.  The weather is grey and cold.  The kids are still in school.  No daylight saving.

I'm currently caught in the Christmas grinch mode, not feeling Christmassy at all but perhaps it will pass.  Anyway, for now there's a few more days to enjoy with Tanya and Ruby and that is something to smile about.

A happy memory in the image below.  Lorenzo is a long-time friend from Genova, owner of Cibi e Libri, and this visit saw me introduced to his project partners, Peter and composer, Stefano Fasce.

There Are So Many Reasons to Love Genova

Originally used as a corn market, in 1186 this square stood just outside the 10th-century town walls, beyond the Town Gate of San Pietro, which stood where the archway leading through to the tiny square Piazza Cinque Lampadi now is.
In the 12th century, the Barbarossa walls included Piazza Banchi in the city and turned it into the place where the early business exchanges between tradesmen and bankers took place.
This is where the word ‘bankruptcy’ comes from, deriving from the custom of axing to pieces insolvent bankers’ business desks, banchi in Italian.

Extract from, Loggia dei Mercanti -Piazza Banchi.

I love this piazza.  It was the place where I bought my flowers in those days when I still bought flowers.  And it's a place that I wander through daily while exploring the city. 

I think you can see something of what brings me back to Genova, again and again ...

Wandering with Dear Miss Fletcher, in Genova

A highlight from today was meeting the Genovese blogger responsible for the most wonderful blog - titled, Dear Miss Fletcher

Paola, the friend who gifts me the use of her apartment here in Genova ... the woman who first introduced me to Genova, was also responsible for introducing me to the blog, Dear Miss Fletcher.  And so I've been reading her posts, via google translate, because it's true, she tells marvelous stories about this city I love. 

But I was so busy talking with the blogger, whose real name is Sabina, that I didn't get the details of this marvelous barber shop.  The one down the narrow caruggi where they saw us outside, me with my camera ... and invited us in.  I'm going back during the day, to chat a little and take some more photographs because who wouldn't but you can find a post about it already, over on Dear Miss Fletcher.

The photograph below shows you what drew us in ...

A huge thank you must go to Sabina, for her beautiful English and her glorious introduction to so many new things I still didn't know of the city.  It's her city, and it's in good hands with her writing of it and photographing it too.

Grazie mille, Sabina  :-)

Days Full of Music and Laughter ... Genova

Saturday night and I was invited to Alessandra's place, with Barbara, Federico and Davide too, for aperitivo before heading out to Teatro Govi and a superb show by the Paul McCartney tribute band(not the best sample but it gives you a sense of their talent perhaps).

Genova is gifting me some beautiful music this visit.  2 nights in a row and there has been music that has had me trying not to  rock out of my seat and dance.

But it's more about the fact that I know some really good people here ... and I'm meeting more all the time. 

Barbara has been teaching me Italian in the quiet times and has actually given me hope that I might speak it one day.  She was surprised to realise I had the sounds required. (I was probably more surprised.  I'm so used to apologising for all of my languages that to be praised felt like some kind of magic).  I will go on with the work.  I think it's more than time I learned to speak here.

Today was all about a most divine Sunday lunch and yes, that was me, the New Zealander there in the midst of her beautiful warmhearted family.  Afterwards there was a family photography session and so much laughter that I'm still smiling.

It's been like that ...

Club La Claque, Genova

I love Genova. It's a city of secrets that can be difficult to find but they are so stunningly intense when discovered.

Friday night, Barbara invited me out to Club La Claque and for just 15 euro we were able to listen to Stefano Marelli sing with the truly talented trumpet player, Raffaele, accompanying him.  I would love to hear more of their music. 

Then came Marina Rei and her magnificent band and they played until midnight.  I can't even begin to describe her performance.  She drums as she sings, plays keyboards too, and her voice is divine.  Finding a youtube performance that begins to capture her is difficult.

Walking back through the city after midnight, some Palestinian/Syrian guys were giving the most delicious impromptu musical performance I've seen.  Somehow they radiated joy and pulled all those passing by into their circle of music. I ended up talking to their friend from Lebanon for a while.

So ... Friday was just another beautiful night here in Genova.

Gate-Climbing ...

It began harmlessly enough ... gate-climbing as soon as I worked out the 'how' of it. 

Another memory from long ago, quiet excitement ... a gap in the hedge that surrounded my childhood home.  They closed that up pretty quickly once they realised how I was slipping away.

Me and my trike, then my bike, traveled far and wide ... or as far as my lazy legs would carry me.  Then came the car and that seemed like the best freedom so far, until I flew over to Istanbul.  And zipped off to Rome.  Then ended up in Belgium, discovered France, Holland and every place else in Europe was easily reachable.

'Gate-climbing' on steroids.

Then Genova, Italy.  That place I keep on returning to ... since 2008.  That exquisitely ancient city surrounded by beautiful hills and the sea. 

These days I can wander where ever I want but I keep returning.

I'm flying this week. 

14 days in that city I love ...

Listening to The Sweet Remains these days, specially Ghost in the Orange Blossom Air.

I Am Missing That City, Its People ...

Coffee at Douce in Piazza Matteotti, Genova.

Or perhaps I am generally missing good coffee.  Even the highway autogrills do good coffee in Italy.

I am missing green beans, lightly cooked.  Tomatoes from Il Bio di Soziglia.  And adding the best riccotta from Le Gramole Olioteca to that mix.  Missing Francesca and Norma too.

Then I miss the possibility of eating Ravioli fatti in casa al “tuccu” di carne at Roberto's place, Il Genovese because Tuccu is the most divine sauce ever invented ... any place here on this earth.

I miss Stefano's restaurant because there are always stunning surprises in store when you eat and drink there. 

I miss the possibility of hearing Donatella singing and Luciano play there.  I am learning to miss Donatella's fried squash flowers too.  They were divine that night she took Helen and I home and cooked for us.  

I miss Barbara and Alessandra.  I most definitely miss Stefano.  I miss Lorenzo

I miss the 'ciao's' that I hear in the street.  I miss Pino & Silvana, and their divine pizzas.

I miss Boccadasse and my seat up on the hill, I miss Outi, Paula and Paola.  There is Davide, Federico, and Leah, and so many others. 

I'm thinking now  ... perhaps it all adds up to the fact that I'm simply missing Genova. And forgive me if your name isn't here because I'm sure to be missing you too  :-)


Below, a photograph of Luciano playing bass guitar (really, he is), taken at a performance he and Donatella gave recently.

Water Polo, Boccadasse, Genova

In Genova, there is always something happening ... something extraordinary.

This time there was the International Music Festival, and there is a Robert Capa exhibition on too. One I wish I'd had time to visit.  But it's on until October, 2014.

Then last night, out at Boccadasse, I photographed this ...

That is how I experience Genova.  It's a city that is rarely 'ordinary'.

Early Morning, Genova, Italy

It has been so difficult to blog here in Genova.  So difficult to sit down and relax into attempting to describe some of the magic that has been happening here in this city I love.  But I woke early this morning, woke early and here I am, at the kitchen table, next to that window that opens out onto the street ... ready to write.

Already the neighbours are hanging their laundry on lines strung across the street here.  There is a pink duvet cover and a blue fitted sheet hanging between the ancient city gate, called Porta Soprana, and I. 

People are heading out to work, August and holiday already being anticipated in their casualness.  7.30am and there's a warm breeze, blue skies and 20 celsius or more.

These last few days here have been full ... even those times marked down as 'free'.  But 'free' ... what do I mean by that? I  guess they've been marked down as nowhere we have to be however the places we've ended up and the moments we've had have been so good.

Over years I've come to know some special people here in Genova and these last few days have been full of visiting with them although, as is always the case, I'm meeting new people too.  Last night we went to aperitivo with Alessandra, catching up with Federico, who introduced us to Paolo ... who gifted us a copy of his new cd.

Later, down in Piazza delle Erbe, we had dinner with Paula and her Paolo, not pausing in our conversations until 11pm ... when we  were surprised to realise the time.

And don't imagine that these are conversations or meetings where we talk lightly.  The weather and small stories might weave their way through our conversations but mostly there is this divine intensity with people.

And there is always laughter.

Two city apartments have been involved in this visit.  We were testing a new Air BnB space, with our future clients in mind, before returning to my much-loved space here in Via Ravecca.  Paola's place. 

Our dates for the Air BnB were 9-13 July but it appears that there was a brainfade and yes ... we included the night of 13 July as a night spent at the first place. 

Our Air BnB host smsed us at 10.30pm on 13 July, apologising for missing our leaving, hoping our stay was a good one.  We were out at dinner with friends, up on the side of those hills that surround the  city.  Reading their message, I felt quite some alarm and shared its contents with Helen, business partner and extraordinarily wise woman.

She was startled too.

A few sms messages later and we decided we would move ... right there and then, in the middle of the night.  We had a huge working day planned for the following day and so it would be fine ... an Adventure in fact.

This all unfolded while we were dinner guests up at Donatella and Luciano's place and the evening had been one of those magical ones.  There's always a bit of magic with those two.  Their friend Eleonora offered to drive us back down into the city and we accepted, with much  gratitude and some laughter. 

Midnight found Helen and I  packing, stripping beds and etc before moving apartments.  Two loads, two giggling hikes through the city ... 1.30am, 24 celsius, we arrived at Ravecca.

Yesterday, despite best intentions and big work day planned, the day was a slow one because ... well you know, we had fallen into bed some time after 2am.

Yesterday I also caught up with our BnB hosts and they apologised for not making it clear that they were relaxed about our mistake that we didn't need to move at that time of night.  They were lovely actually and their BnB is the best I have stayed in yet.  Photographs to follow.

I think one of the things I love best about Genova is surely her people.  They have shown us so much kindness already and we haven't even been here a week. 

Iit's always intense for me here but I suspect that's how I prefer to live life.  Planned meetings with people merge into unplanned meetings with other people.  Invitations and adventures arrive.  There is much joy.

And how do I write of it all?   Of Lorenzo introducing us to the loveliest people at his cafe yesterday.  Or Paolo, the singer, gifting us a copy of his cd.  Of Donatella and Luciano preparing a most marvelous gluten-free, vegetarian meal ...  Actually, we discovered they know Lorenzo too.  The Lorenzo who came and stayed with us in Antwerp.

There was a lovely long lunch with Stefano and Miriam, and meeting their beautiful friend from Haiwaii.  Dinner at Stefano's restaurant, and a long conversation with a woman I have come to know via a series of accidental meetings over years.  I photographed Paola more than a few years ago.  But that ... that story is so long and delightful that I can't tackle it here.  Not yet.  I want to tell it true and it's complicated.

Today we're off and wandering again.  The weekend is full of another kind of adventure and there is so much to write about ... and already my tummy is saying, But Di, what about breakfast?

I've been here an hour ... mostly sitting staring out the window that looks out over the small alleyway, or caruggi, drifting in and out of these stories I want to tell here ... overwhelmed by the sheer intensity of what has already been.

It's good to be back in Genova.  Really really good.

Below ... Donatella cooked us zucchini flowers, as well as so many other dishes (but my flash batteries ran out just as I began.  Living out of suitcase can lead to chaos with me).   Anyway, it was my first time eating zucchini flowers.  They were divine.

One of those Exceptional Days here in Genova

This morning, in dire need of an espresso after a superb yesterday, I wandered over to Mentelocale Cafe with my laptop hoping to put together a post while drinking that coffee.

I sat down and set myself up at Mentelocale Cafe then realised I stepped into the maelstrom that is the International Music Festival.  The 'background' music playing as I work here is mind-blowingly good.  As in, non-stop concerts at the major courtyard of Palazzo Ducale - from 09.30 until 13.30.

Genova retains its superb reputation with me.  It's a city where I have learned to accept the unexpected will happen.  Later, wandering the ancient city streets, marching bands would appear randomly ... complete with baton-twirling girls, smiles pinned in place, uniforms immaculate.

Let's just say it was surreal but quite 'Genova' for me.

But this post is really about yesterday.Yesterday I passed by a lovely local woman I had photographed and chatted with, by chance, more than two years ago.  She had been leaning on a windowsill and I had asked if I might photograph her.  She agreed then had come down to chat with me.

Fast-forward to May 2014, last time I was here in the city, and I recognised Paola at a table next to me at a cafe here in the city.  I said hi, not sure she would remember me photographing her but she did. 

Then yesterday, on the way back to the apartment, I passed her again.  She lives in a beautiful fishing village not too far from the city and I live in Belgium.  I don't take these random meetings forgranted.

We stopped and chatted for a little  bit, as she was wondering if I was still here from May.  I ended up telling her of the 'New Way of Seeing' project.  I mentioned I was taking my business partner out to the village I had met her in and she invited us to visit her. 

After a coincidence (or two), we ended up spending some enjoyable hours talking with her.  It was so very good to finally sit down and talk.

But honestly, the coincidences that are happening on this visit are remarkable.  We are meeting the people we are meant to meet but that seems to be the way it unfolds here in Genova.  Every time I come here, I find another reason to love the city more ... if that's possible.

Then last night, we had another sublime dinner at Stefano Di Bert's remarkable restaurant, at the invitation of singer and bass guitarist, Donatella and Luciano.  I met these three via Alessandra, a woman I feel so very privileged to know.   I met Alessandra via Barbara, again it feels like a privilege to call her a friend, and I met Barbara via the most adorable Francesca.

It's like that here in the city.

Stefano, once again, presented a huge range of the most divine wines matched to the most exquisite food.  It felt like we were eating and drinking some kind of sublime art collection ... perhaps.  A marriage of beautiful food and really good wine was almost overwhelming at times.

It was another rather relaxed 'after midnight' walk 'home' through this city I love so well. 

Voila .. it has been like that so far.  No camera, no photos.  I'm sorry.  I arrived here so tired that I have been leaving my camera behind.  This situation should change tomorrow ...

Meanwhile, the shot that follows ... I was up on my bed working on my computer, mezzanine floor, old Rolli palace, huge windows open, beautiful view of the street down below and realised I really must share.  I am so loving this place.

Day 2, in Genova

I'm lying here, on my borrowed bed, looking out through the massive open windows in front of me, wondering I might go back to sleep here.

I love this apartment.  It's just a divinely small package of cute but the fact that it's located above two bars in the 'happening' centre of the city means that falling asleep is something you need to relearn. The noise kicks off about 10pm and has still been going at 2am, when I've finally fallen asleep.

But the view and location is divine otherwise.

Life is delicious otherwise.  I'm slowly slowly catching up with everyone I quietly adore here.  Last night we wandered along to a tasting of the loveliest wines at Le Gramole. Wine like I had never tasted before.  They don't have a website but the white wines were extraordinary and the reds were good too.  The company was lovely and I need to find out more before I write on what we tasted.

We had a lovely university student called Raffaele patiently translating my questions to Italian to the guys in charge of pouring and explaining the wines.  Then Barbara arrived at Le Gramole too and there was much laughter.

Back at the apartment, we 3 had a dinner made up of food from the Bio shop and from Le Gramole.  Mozarella, with sweet juicy tomatoes, focaccia, and a bottle of the white wine just tasted down at the Le Gramole wine-tasting. 

Tonight is about meeting up with Donatella and Luciano and there's a good espresso to find this morning and some people to see.  The weather is exquisite, the people lovely.  It's so very good to be back.

Below is a glimpse from the wine-tasting. We were the first people there ... it filled up later.

My Dad's been in hospital these last few days and we finally got what seems like good news.  Fingers crossed.

But Genova ...

You can't visit Genova, in Italy, and not taste the pesto.  It's the home of pesto.

Well, if you have an allergy, okay ... you could miss the pesto but otherwise, you will taste of the most sublime pesto ever made while visiting that ancient Italian city. 

They know what they're doing there.  You can taste the difference.



Drogheria Torrielli, Genova

Anna and Emanuela, from Beautiful Liguria, took me wandering one day …deep into the heart of the medieval section of Genoa. And it felt a little like a magical carpet ride but perhaps that was because we began at Drogheria Torrielli.

It's more than just a spice shop but, for me, the initial impression was that I had stepped into the pages of a book I read long ago … The Mistress of Spices A story about a priestess who knew the secret and magical powers of spices. Drogheria Torrielli seemed to promise ancient magic based on scent alone.

However the true story of this Genoese shop goes like this. In 1929 the grandfather of the current owners was working at the port of Genoa when an economic crisis hit and the work ran out. Way back then he decided to open a small supermarket, one of the first of its kind.

Moving forward, through time, into the 1970s and new people began to arrive in Genoa. Immigrants from Morocco and they were searching for spices from home. Over the years other immigrants followed and with them came the demand for spices from all over the world. 

Drogheria Torrielli began selling spices and, in the years since, this shop has become a place were a melting pot of cultures meet. More than that though, they are consciously attempting to maintain a balance between tradition while embracing the new.

Standing there, taking photographs, watching customers come and go, it occurred to me that Drogheria Torrielli represents a miniature version of what makes this city something special. The world wanders in through their doors.

Address: Via San Bernardo, 32r.


... But when we give ourselves permission, we move past this. The world once again reveals itself to us. We become open and aware, patient and ready to receive it....We give ourselves permission because we are the only ones who can do so.

Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, Dani Shapiro.

I love catching up with the wise words of Terri Windling via her blog, Myth & Moor.  She's a soul-soother somehow.

Meanwhile, I completely agree with the concept of time.   Something beautiful always emerges out of taking the time to play ... some of the best art, or the beginning of a series idea.

Needless to say, I'm missing Genova.  Here's an imperfect glimpse, taken between the portrait shoots I was doing for my book.

Those Stairs, That Light, Genova

Sometimes I see the light, try to capture it, and a kind of alchemy happens so that I end up with an unexpected result.

I was on the stairs between Righi and the city, heading for the Sanctuary of Madonnetta, up there on the side of one of those steep Genovese hills when I saw the light.  And it seemed beautiful.

My day had begun at 10am.  I had the pleasure of spending two hours working with the lovely Beatrice.  I watched as she used my camera, understanding my instructions so very quickly.  I was impressed.  Her English was good but even better she could understand my New Zealand English.  It might be news to some but NZ English isn't always the simplest English to follow.

I had lunch down at Porto Antico with Barbara and we talked,  as we do, until it was time to meet up with Alessandra, Federico and Davide.  And they took us wandering, with Davide gifting me a portion of this ancient city's history as we went.  The Davide who looks so remarkably like John Lennon.

We walked along Via Garibaldi, catching the Righi Funicular to the top of one of the hills that surround Genova, and then we walked some more. 

I found the photograph when we were on the way down, using the ancient pathway to reach the Sanctuary of Madonnetta.