Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Italy: Spring 2011: Day 8: Wednesday, May 4: Genova

It appears to be another bright sunny day….I have to do some travel work before breakfast.  Our destination this morning is the Palazzo Bianco, one of the city’s art galleries located on the Via Garibaldi in a very grand palazzo.
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In some ways, the grandeur of the building and the spectacular galleries overshadow the collection which contains mostly Genovese artists from the 15th and 16th century with a representative sample of other Italian painters and some Dutch and Spanish representatives.  We make a leisurely walk through all the galleries and particularly like two paintings….a Vertumno and Pomon by Anthony Van Dyck (who spent time in Genova). 
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We take the time to look up the legend that the painting is based on….a story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses that was very popular among Dutch painters of the 17th century.
From Wikipedia…..
In Roman mythologyVertumnus — also Vortumnus or Vertimnus — is the god of seasons, change[1] and plant growth, as well as gardens and fruit trees. He could change his form at will; using this power, according to Ovid‘s Metamorphoses (xiv), he tricked Pomona into talking to him by disguising himself as an old woman and gaining entry to her orchard, then using a narrative warning of the dangers of rejecting a suitor to seduce her. The tale of Vertumnus and Pomona was the only purely Latin tale in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.[2] 

We also like an altarpiece by the Tuscan, Fillippino Lippi (whose work we had just seen in Prato).
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Our friend Livio calls as we leave the museum to tell us that he has arrived and is taking a bus to our hotel, so we hurry back and catch up with him on the street as he is getting off his bus.  We sit at the Cafe Mangini, have some coffee and catch up.  We first met Livio on the Compuserve Italian Forum in the mid-1990s and have kept in touch since then, getting together every few years whenever we are in close proximity.  He took the train from Alessandria, about an hour north of Genova.
Livio, who is a great cook and interested in food, has reserved at a trattoria near the port–Vegia Zena (Old Genova in dialect)–that has been recommended to him. We take a leisurely walk through the old city doing a little sightseeing along the way.
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The food at lunch turns out to be a bit of a disappointment…the trofie with pesto that we have for a primi is very good but Livio’s baccala’ and my fritto misto are just so-so although Diana’s fried shrimp are excellent.  We sit and talk-mostly about food and politics (Italian and American) and drink wine for a couple of hours, then walk back to the hotel and say our goodbyes to Livio.  The most interesting part of the walk back was passing through the “red light” district and encountering a bunch of prostitutes angling for business.
In the later afternoon, I take another walk in yet another neighborhood near the hotel….a steep uphill route that takes me to a very pleasant neighborhood with nice houses and tree-lined streets.
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Tonight we decide to eat lightly, which means pizza.  We walk up the busy Via Assaroti to a neighborhood pizzeria with a wood burning oven…..Invexendo di Pala Davide.  Invexendo is Genovese for noisy (we are told) and Davide makes the pizza.  The pizza is only so-so but we have a ringside seat on the pizza making operation so we do get some entertainment with our dinner.
We take an alternate route back to the hotel, a steep path parallel to the main street but without the car, motorcycle and bus traffic it sort of feels like a country lane in the middle of the city.  On our way, we encounter a group of about 12 men (near a gym) racing up this hill doing wind sprints….what a way to get into shape. Diana says that living (and walking) in Genoa would preclude the necessity of going to a gym.
Tomorrow, we will go to one of the other art museums and then take the car out of town for lunch.
Jim and Diana


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