There is a creaking, grinding roll-up metal door that is activated about 6.30am ...near my bedroom here in Genova.
It's a feet-on-the-floor explosion of sound. To give you a sense of it, an army would be proud of this vehicle of noise when waking and/or scaring the living daylights out of their new recruits or prisoners of war.
Some mornings I hear it, some mornings I don't. This morning I woke, completely heart-thumpingly disorientated. I lay there a while and then, sure enough, some kind of pressure-building noise followed as the cafe primed its coffee-machine with the required level of explosiveness ...perhaps.
I stumbled out of bed to see if I had missed the possible thunderstorms predicted for while I slept but they didn't come. It's overcast but that won't hurt after yesterday's 32 celsius, with humidity of 76%.
The kitchen window is open, next to my laptop and the breeze is almost refreshing. The 'ciao's' have begun and people sound lively and engaged in this language I love. So upbeat, even at 7.37am.
Meanwhile friends here are rebelling. Maybe they're pretending but some have decided it's time I spoke Italian. Of course, I agree but language acquisition has never been the thing I am best in. Two years in Turkey and I remember the Turks were amused by my using a very English pronunciation in my simple greetings.
Learning Dutch hasn't gone well either. Maybe there is some forgotten colonial impulse buried deep in my New Zealand genes but I tend to begin in English in Belgium and mostly they reply in the same. Actually, they reply in English when they hear my Dutch too. I have come to believe that my attempts are so impossibly bad that they are found to be abominable.
But anyway, English is a useful language to travel with ... or not. Depending on what one believes about language.
So ... last night I began working through the 200+ Italian flashcard exercises I have stored on my computer. While the language itself is often straight-forward, in that it is pronounced as it appears, I realised that words like 'di' and 'a', with their multiple uses, could be troublesome.
'di' (that Italian word that isn't my name) = of, from, about, than, to, with, by. And then there is 'a' = to, at, in, for, with, by.
The road could be long. Here too, the 'i' sounds like my 'e'and so Di of me becomes Dee. Although it is the same in Dutch and so I have adjusted to that kind of thing.
I can see how this language-studying commitment is a necessary commitment because to post graffiti without being sure of what is saying is a risk I don't often take. However this one refers to, or was written by, Melina Riccio. Hers is an interesting story for sure ...
The espresso and cappuccino cups are rattling in the cafes below, a man is telling a story so amusing he can barely squeeze the words out through the laughter he is trying to control. It seems like old friends are at the cafe, meeting on their way to work perhaps, and talking about things I don't understand ...
Buongiorno ... it is morning here in Genova.
Last visit to Genova, I had the good fortune to meet a very kind man who quietly explained the free concert Outi and I had arrived in time for ... in Palazzo Ducale.
Roberto and I stayed in touch. He has wandered the world and taken some beautiful photographs en route. And so it was, this time, that he offered to take me into the heart of this ancient city I love so well.
There is no point in ever imagining you know Genova. She will always surprise you. Even if you live here forever. It is a city for those who want depth. A city for those who don't want the easy entertainment experience.
Today I was introduced to the legend that is Captain Enrico Alberto d'Albertis (1846-1932), a remarkable man. His castello is one I will return to. I wandered in a cloister that I didn't know existed. I visited churches I had only photographed the exterior of ... grazie, Roberto.
Tonight ... I'm not even sure I can capture it for you. I am here, as usual, next to the open window ... writing and listening to music but more than that, listening to the noise of an evening in Genova. There's a bar below me, a pizzeria across the small alley ... there is life.
I love the noise of Italy. And there's a warm breeze, good music, and the pleasure that is simply being here ... in this moment, loving everything about where I am.
But a photograph, from my today spent wandering. The light ... this one was all about the light.
...how places love us back, of what they give us.
They give us continuity, something to return to, and offer familiarity that allows some portion of our lives to remain collected and coherent.
They give us an expansive scale in which our troubles are set into context, in which the largeness of the world is a balm to loss, trouble, and ugliness.
And distant places give us refuge in territories where our own histories aren't so deeply entrenched and we can imagine other stories, other selves, or just drink up quiet and respite.
The bigness of the world is redemption.
I found these words over on a favourite blog of mine called Myth & Moor. It's the site where Terri Windling notes down, oftentimes, beautiful words and wisdoms she finds along the way.
Tonight I am sitting at Paola's kitchen table in Genova, again. My laptop and I are located next to an open window, one floor above the street and, after a 32 celsius day, I'm enjoying the softness of a breeze that carries rumours of rain.
Today was quiet after yesterday's strangely epic journey here. All went well till I landed at Milan's Malpensa airport. I picked up my soft cloth luggage, unzipped it to throw my camera bag in, noticing a wet patch as I worked ... and then the stench of it hit me.
At first I thought it was urine. I was horrified. Then I thought, okay, cat pee ... okay. I wandered over to Lost and Found luggage and explained. They were lovely. I love this thing about Italy. They remain human in times of deep distress and need while other countries in Europe have failed consistently. But never mind.
The woman came round to my side of the counter ... sniffed, and diagnosed Fish!. Apparently some people from countries that don't need to be named, pack fish in their luggage, gifts from or for relatives. This fish had leaked all over my bag.
The Lost and Found woman filled out the necessary insurance forms for me, so sympathetic that I couldn't help but thank her. I explained I had two trains and 3 hours of travel ahead of me. Was there some place in the airport where I could replace my stinking bag. She sent me up to Departures and eventually I located the only place selling anything like my bag ... and there were no sales inside the airport. Everywhere I been lately, in Belgium and Italy, there are sales. Probably this airport was the only place without sales.
I travel on a wish and a prayer. Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only person left in the worlds that I know who doesn't have any kind of credit card. I usually get by, even if I sometimes arrive home with just 10 euro in cash, or less. Yesterday I was in despair. I could do it but it would seriously impact on my desire to fund this trip by myself.
I can't even write the price I had to pay for the bag that could fit my luggage into it. And I had to have wheels because I am slightly broken in body and my equipment is heavy enough without having to carry the rest of my stuff too. The luggage shop assistant was lovely. She sent me off to another store, just in case they had something more reasonable but no.
I paid, I unpacked my luggage with just a few losses ... thank goodness for waterproofing I guess. I dumped the stinking bag over by the rubbish bins she pointed to and we laughed as she said not to worry, that she had a spray that would clear the fishy stench my bag had created in her shop. It stunk, so bad. So unbelievably badly. (But you got that by now, didn't you.)
I found a train to take me into Milan and it might have been okay with the stinky bag. There was A/C and lots of space but the longer train journey, the 2 hours from Milan to Genova, that would have been a nightmare. On that train I was seated in one of those little 6 seat cabins with 5 other people and a closed door. The A/C was weak and the temperature outside was 30 celsius.
I imagined how horrific it would have been to have traveled with my fish-stinking bag. Instead it was tranquil, people napped, helped one another with luggage, smiled, and were kind.
It could have been another story entirely ... I was glad I had spent the money.
However today has been a far better day and full of good people. And here's a glimpse of the flowers I found this morning. Okay, so it was bread and cheese for dinner but really, it was all so very worth it I'm thinking, as I sit here by the window listening to the ebb and flow of life here in Genova this evening.
This picking through and posting images from my May in Genova began when I decided it was time to write of that trip.
This street ... Via San Vincenzo, the walking street that I often use when I wander to or from Brignole Station. I know I've arrived or I'm sad to be leaving. It varies.