There was this older gentleman, riding an old bicycle, wearing a long black coat ... I imagined he was a priest at first. He was smoking a cigar. There were exclusive-looking shopping bags hanging from both handlebars. And he crossed the road on a red light and I thought, 'not so priestly'. Then again, quite possibly Father Healy might done that.
Anyway by the time I realised he wasn't a priest he had my attention. He stopped on the island in the middle of the road and lifted the camera he had hanging round his neck, using it to take a photograph of the old-fashioned apartment building in front of him.
Then, a few streets on, there was a small truck raised up on its mobility/stability stands while the ladder was raised. I can't be sure but it seemed like there was a big white cat sitting up in a tree waiting for rescue.
I reached the airport, hungry but craving something sweet too. When I write up this some might say, 'Oh Diane ...' but others may benefit from my honesty should they find themselves hunting down lunch at an airport in Milan. I ordered a mozzarella and tomato sandwich and ... a hot chocolate.
The waitress could barely put my order together. She was laughing so hard.
And laughing. And still laughing as I wandered off with my 5pm lunch.
Sometimes one just has to take the 'hit'. There were things I could have said but decided it was a life lesson.
I came to the departure lounge early to work on my marketing assignment but there was an elderly English academic talking to his wife two seats down from me. He was so ... so very much what you might except from a rather elderly English academic perhaps.
He had been at a conference here in Milan and was rather excited by the wine at dinner but disappointed by the behaviour of some of 'the team'. Talked of corruption and bureaucracy, so loudly, that I feared his way of speaking might slip into my writing. Maybe it has ...
Traveling between here and there always seems to drag me into a slightly surreal space. Speaking of surreal, I only managed to take one photograph of Davide, the Genovese guy who looks so remarkably like John Lennon ...
I went wandering with Alessandra, Federico, Barbara and Davide on Sunday. It was superb.
Today someone asked me what I love about Genova. And I stumbled because it's a complicated question to answer ... complicated like the city really.
I love that the sacred and profane stand side by side here. That it's not a vanilla-smooth kind of city, you have to earn your knowledge. Wandering-lost, following friends, searching out that pizzeria, this bar, that church. You can't just arrive here and know all there is to know of Genova. It's not like that.
I love that the sea is there at the edge of the city, and that hills surround it. Cradling it somehow. I love the sound of the Italian spoken here. I hear the conversations that pass by in the carruggi below my open window. There's the laughter, the 'ciao's', the coffee cups clanking in the cafe close by. Occasionally dogs meet and quarrel, people shout.
I really like the Genovese. The city and its people are particular and it works for me ... that photographer from New Zealand, from Istanbul, from Belgium. The one who wanders a lot, without much Italian.
This time I was here on a mission. I am writing a book and it has taken a long time to define the central thread of it. I thought it was about my photographs taken here since 2008. Then I thought perhaps I might write some of my story too, wanting to attempt to capture something of how it is for me here. But finally I realised it was another kind of book. I hope to have it finished this year. I'll let you know.
I love ravioli fatti in casa al “tuccu” di carne from Il Genovese but you know that already. And the Napoli pizza from Pizzeria Da Pino. No one makes pizza like them. So far, for me, it's the best in the world. Douce Pâtisserie Cafè in Piazza Matteotti has the most divine crema brioche and their coffee is very very good.
Le Gramole Olioteca is an exquisite store to wander to if you want top quality products like pasta and oil, jam and all kinds of cheeses. I interviewed Francesca and she wrote of what their shop means to them.
But that's only a few of my favourites. This city is full of the best kinds of food. And wandering in Europe's largest medieval quarter is full of surprises. There are fresh fruit and vegetable stalls, the fish shops, the butchers, the cathedrals, the churches, and the palaces built in wealthier times.
In so many ways I experience the city as a sensory overload. The recipes are as they have always been in places like confectioner Pietro Romanengo's laboratory - 7 generations in the business.
Genova has a whole lot of something that I've never found any place else. It's been a melting pot over centuries and has come together in a very particular way.
And so perhaps it becomes clear that it's not a question I can answer easily. It's all about a lot of things ... like the city itself.
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.
Unknown to the majority of the British public, The flag was "borrowed" from the Genoese Fleet. The reasoning was that the Genoese fleet was very powerful and it meant that it would deter pirates from attacking ships with the flag.
Source, wikipedia, with thanks to Alessandra for telling me of this.