Grandiose Genoa

2 Jul

Wow!  It has been hot this week.  I have been having antiperspirant malfunctions almost continuously.  On Monday I measured 29˚C in our lounge where it is usually the cool place to be in the heat of the day.  Toulon reported 40˚C.  We had 35˚C on the north facing shaded terrace.  Seriously hot.  Even at 3am it has still been 28˚C making sleep fitful at best.  You get dehydrated during the night and have to keep sipping water.

For those of you suffering from lavender fatigue I have good news.  No lavender pictures this week.  We did try to go back to the Valensole Plateau today, Sunday, to see how things had progressed but the weather forecast was for rain and it was already overcast when we left home.  We got as far as Villecroze and decided to flag it away and stop for coffee and a pastry before going back home.

The main news this week is about our very enjoyable trip to Genoa to meet up with Belinda and explore the city together.  Instead of driving we decided to take the train which departed from Les Arcs, Draguignan at 0823 on Tuesday morning.  This line follows the Mediterranean coastline practically all the way from St Raphael to Genoa.  Along the French leg it spends most of its time within metres of the water perched on the foot of the rocky slopes.  It’s like a scenic attraction thrown in with the trip.  No photos of that because we had those a couple of weeks ago.

We met up with Belinda at the station in Genoa and after a circuitous taxi ride we were at the reception for our accommodation, which was a bit of a shame really.  Why?  Well, after checking in and being told about how we were going to be in their most newly acquired apartment in a fantastic part of town we spent 15 minutes lugging our bags in the afternoon heat halfway back to the station!  Wheelie cases on cobbles with gaps big enough to lose small children is not fun.

But was it ever worth it! This place was awesome.  Number 7 Via Garibaldi.  Right in the middle of the old city.  You can Google the details but this street of palaces was built in the 16th century to house the city’s noble families.

The apartment had three rooms and this was the centre one – our bedroom. Before this room was the sitting room with access to the main staircase

Looking through from our bedroom to Belinda’s bedroom, the third room

The façade of number 7

Out through the doorway of number 7

The internal courtyard at number 7

Another view of the façade on number 7

After a short rest and a cuppa we were off to explore the surroundings.  We followed some reasonably narrow streets from Garibaldi down to the port and I must say they were a bit seedy.  Not a place to be on your own.  Lots and lots of working girls out and it was only 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

One thing I immediately found was that the lighting conditions for photography were challenging my amateur capabilities.  Every shot seemed to have about a 25 stop contrast.  The streets were narrow and the buildings 4 to 6 stories high and the sun blazing from a clear sky.  So severe shadows, bright backgrounds and dim foregrounds seemed to be the formula for every shot.  Because of the narrow streets it was usually impossible to get far enough back from a shot to get it in the frame.  I got  lot of rubbish pictures that’s for sure.  The other challenge I ran into later was indoors.  In the public areas just inside the doors of the many ‘palazzo’ were usually beautiful frescos – of course very low lighting.  But so beautiful I had to try to get a picture of some of them.

As soon as I mentioned frescos you were expecting something like this, weren’t you?

Wow, this is amazing!

What on earth is she doing with that and why is he smiling?

It seemed that most of the palaces on Garibaldi were now occupied by banks and many of them I had never heard of (and after the Euro zone crisis we may not hear of again I guess).  The building layouts were all similar – huge and foreboding double doors with spikes all over them, a large entrance lobby inside with closed rooms off it and staircases, and frescos.  None of them looked particularly open to the public but if you walked on in there was usually no resistance.

The ceiling fresco at one of the palazzo along Garibaldi. This is in the lobby area of what is now a bank and when we sat down to gaze at the beautiful works the security guy shuffles in his drawer and came over with a brochure for us. Very cool!

This was in the same spot but on the wall. This guy has problems!

We did lots of walking during our two days.  We even spent one afternoon in the three museums on Garibaldi just along from our apartment.  No pictures, except the one from the rooftop viewing platform.  Amazing art.  Everything we saw was restored and looking like new.  The earliest dated from 1516 and bar one piece, there were no barriers, railings or protective screens.

A panorama from the top of on of the museum buildings on Garibaldi. The view further to the right was more of the port but the sun was directly into the camera at the time we were there

Are we having fun yet?

It was very hot so a rehydration break at the top of the hill was in order

Can’t remember the significance – just wanted to take a picture!

One of the gates to the city on the old perimeter wall

The ruins of cloisters date from the early 1500s and from memory also had something to do with Christopher Columbus

Coloured marble arches over the pedestrian walk on one of the main shopping streets (all the big labels)

We just walked into the municipal administration building, up the stairs to the balcony and there it all was. Most people would not even know it was there

Many of the buildings were adorned with stunning details

A fountain, a palazzo – any further questions?

Detail on the front of the church of San Lorenzo

Inside the church of San Lorenzo

Oh joy and happiness. I am so blessed to be living here in Genoa

Monument to Christopher Columbus outside the railway station. The only pleasant looking thing in the immediate area – the station is a work in progress

At midday on Thursday it was time to depart.  We said our farewells to Belinda who was headed for Milan to catch her flight back towards home.  It was great to have the opportunity to catch up with her.  We then laid ourselves at the mercy of the Italian train system.  Our departure from Genoa was late by 40 minutes and by the time they got us to our first of two changes at Ventimiglia they had managed to lose another 55 minutes.  What a bunch of geniuses.  Our itinerary was shot so from there we just got on the first train going our direction regardless of our ticket.  We did this at the next change in Nice as well.  Perhaps because we were in peak commuter times we did not see a single ticket inspector but to be safe we had validated all three ticket stages when we left Genoa.  We finally got back to Les Arcs at about 7.30pm and found that our car was still in the car park where we had left it which was a good end to the journey.


One Response to “Grandiose Genoa”

  1. Jeff July 2, 2012 at 02:22 #

    Hi Brian, rea the Daily Reckoning weekend edition email entitled “10 ways to deal with a slow motion train wreck”.. talking about europe of course.. but one of their recommendations was to go off and do a mid life OE whilst waiting for the financial turmoil to end! Sounds like you and Leanne are early adoptors of that concept!!

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