Thursday, May 5, 2011

Italy: Spring 2011: Day 9: Thursday, May 5: Genova

Sunny and warm this morning……after breakfast, we go to the Palazzo Rosso, the other part of the art museum on Via Garibaldi.  We have a slight drama when we give them the tickets that we purchased yesterday.  The ticket taker tells us that reduced price tickets (for 65 and over) are only good for one day.  We had not understood that this was the case but we just stand there and look bewildered while several other people get into the act.  Finally we are walked across the street to the sales office, where–after more consultation–it is decided that they will take pity on us and issue valid tickets for today.  

The gallery is as grand as its sister palazzo, the Palazzo Bianco.  The collection is heavily Genoese with a a number of Tuscan and Venetian painters scattered throughout.  We are quite taken with a painter named Procaccino whose portraits are very striking

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but the highlight of the gallery for us is the special exhibition called In Plein Air.

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In Plein Air (know as “macchiaoli” in Italian) refers to painting outdoors using natural light; the introduction of paint in tubes helped this movement along.  The show at the Palazzo Rosso features a 19th century painter named Luigi Garibbo who worked mostly in Genoa and Florence.  His paintings–especially his later works–are very delicate and almost impressionistic–and we are quite entranced by them.  

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We work our way through all six floors of the palazzo–our energy is flagging as we march through some of the furnished period rooms-and we are rewarded when we get to the top floor, which is the apartment of the art curator who lived there in the mid-20th century.  They have kept the paintings she owned and the books that she used for her research.  And, as a bonus, the guard asks if we want to see the “panorama” from the roof, which of course I do.   

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We then take the car out to try again to get to the seaside suburb of Nervi….I have done some research and now know where I want to go and where to park.  This time we drive along the water all the way from downtown and it is a much more pleasant trip.  The Corso Italia has a broad pedestrian walkway overlooking the sea and there are restaurants and bars all along the way.  We try to make a stop in the little fishing village of Boccadasse but, with no apparent parking available, we continue on our way.

Reaching Nervi, we pull into the parking lot at the train station and take the path that goes under the tracks to the Passegiata Anita Garibaldi.  This is a mile long pedestrian walkway set between the railroad tracks and the sea.  It is beautifully maintained with benches and steps down onto the rocks where people are fishing and sunbathing.
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 We start walking and come upon a historic fortification tower, the Torre Gropallo.
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 and a hotel which looks very rundown.  But there is a sign advertising their lunch specials and we decide to stop and eat there.  We eat outside on the terrace overlooking the water…with great views up and down the coast.   The food is very good…..a caprese salad and grilled branzino for Diana and an insalata mista and fritto misto for me.  We drink a pleasant white wine and linger after we are finished…..a terrific lunch in a lovely spot.
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We continue our stroll along the water….past another restaurant which is also very busy and a gelateria that is “under siege” from a school group.  I see a plaque on the wall and am surprised to see that it honors Sholem Aleichem, the Yiddish writer, who spent some time in Nervi when he was suffering from tuberculosis. Diana is a proud graduate of Sholem Aleichem Shul 45 in the Bronx.
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We take the long route back to Genoa, climbing high into the hills and driving back along the crests of over 3,000 foot high mountains. 
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 The views of the city as we descend on a another narrow, twisting road are great but constant vigilance is required where the road narrows to less than car widths.
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We eat dinner at a famous old trattoria, Da Maria, which is very close to our hotel. We are looking for something uncomplicated and quick and Da Maria is a no-nonsense place with home cooking, no pretensions and very low prices.  The extensive menu (in hard to decipher handwriting) has lots of local specialties which are served up promptly with little or no style.  I have a dish of okay minestrone (pesto and peas) and a plate of fried baccala while Diana has the trofie with pesto and veal milanese.  I think the food is not all that good but the experience was fine (we are out of there in less than half an hour) and both our meals come to less than Euro 20.00.  It’s a good place for people watching also….the clientele seems to be very eclectic.
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Tomorrow we leave Genoa for our “vacation within a vacation” at Lago d’Iseo, between Lake Garda and Lake Como.  We have enjoyed our time in Genoa a lot…we think our hotel was in a better location than where stayed on our earlier trip and we were able to avoid the traffic filled, noisy streets for the most part.  
Jim and Diana

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