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Genoa, Italy, in 2012

A restorative February interlude (3)


We've shaken off the brutal European Cold Wave of early February 2012 and decided to recuperate on the south side of the Alps.

We're off for our morning walk, down from the Via Balbi to the Via di Pré and the old port.

The Piazza dei Banchi (where the medieval bankers sought their prey) -- the commercial centre of the city until the 19th century. That's the Loggia dei Mercanti from the 16th century.

The Loggia dei Mercanti, no shop window left unfilled

The elevated Strada Aldo Moro, the Sopraelevata, built in the 1960s, passes over the port district and knocks off pieces of it in some places. At the far end of that promenade is the Antarctic Museum about Italy's research station there, which left us fairly unimpressed but was well-intended.

It's carnival time in Genoa, by the way.

The alpini military are stationed in front of the Palazzo San Giorgio in the port district.

"Alpini, go home!" (Whatever their mission, there's a difference of opinion about it.) ("Ciao, Mamma, I'm going to the bar.") ("Bum Bum.")

The alpini at the front door of the Palazzo San Giorgio, built in 1260 and, from 1407 until its suppression by Napoleon in 1805, the home of the Bank of St George, one of the greatest private financial houses in European history. Marco Polo was a resident here for a while, when it was being used as a prison -- having returned to Venice from the East, he was captured by the Genoese off the coast of Croatia in 1298. The building and its 19th century frescoes on the front are now the seat of the Port Authority.

The ancient stonework of the arcades of the Sottoripa

Street scenes

The Cathedral belltower and the Chiesa del Gesù

The Ducal Palace, or Palace of the Doges, in the central Piazza Matteotti, and Something's Up!

It's a communist political protest, without the communists.

The Jesus Church, Chiesa del Gesù, alongside

Let's call it Strada Motopattino (Scooter Street). (Actually it's the bystreet up to the Piazza de Ferrari.)

Looking down Via San Lorenzo towards the Duomo

At the top of Via Lorenzo, past the Duomo and the Ducal Palace, is the ancient Soprana Gate.

And outside the gate -- *** The House of [get ready] CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS *** (Savior of the Free World.) Maybe so. Can I interest you in a new Rolex?

The Piazza de Ferrari with the iconic fountain, with the back side of the Ducal Palace on the right

The Muson River Euro 5 making its rounds!

We've booked a prison experience in the Grimaldina Tower of the Palazzo Ducale, but with time to kill we've advanced at a dead run to the Palazzo Reale in the Via Balbi. Woof, 'gracious living'.

A fairly nice beheading. The Palazzo Reale's mainly about extravagant rooms with mirrored walls, huge chandeliers, and a lot of Savoie family memorabilia and a few interesting things to see. (That's probably Perseus and Medusa. As pre-teens.)

But we were booked at the Grimaldina Tower for 3 p.m. and had to bug off the Palazzo guided tour here, and (probably) broke the city's Scurrying Record back down the Via Balbi, past the Piazza della Nunziata, up the Via Cairoli, up the Via Garibaldi, down the Via 25 Avrile, past the Piazza de Ferrari, through the Doge's back doors, up the stairs to the Grimaldina Tower, and . . .

. . . a while to wait before the guide showed up to issue us with our hair nets and hard hats.

Kristin does enjoy a good prison cell.

Especially when it's got heartfelt and heart-tugging graffiti all over the walls. The tower was built in the 13th century as part of the Palazzo Ducale, but with subsequent modifications a lot of it got walled up and forgotten. The prison cells were found again in recent years and got up nicely as a very depressing tourist experience.

Some tourist visitors look really elegant in their hair nets and hard hats, whilst others . . .

. . . don't.
(But the hard hat saved my life three times during the tour.)

See? This is the cell in which the anti-Savoie patriot Jacopo Ruffini was murdered. Attenzione alla testa!!!!

In fact, all the great 19th century Italian patriots seem to have done time here, including Mazzini and Garibaldi, but the guest list goes further back, including the 15th century Doge, Paolo da Novi, who pissed off the Financial Sector, and the horrible 16th century pirate (and Ottoman admiral) "Dragut" (Turgut Reis).

The Ducal Palace -- that's the line for the Van Gogh / Gauguin exhibition; I'm not a fan of either artist, and Kristin doesn't like long lines.

The communist demonstration hasn't really caught fire yet.

The Duomo again: the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo.

An illuminating example of one of the chapels -- you can illuminate it for one minute for one euro ($1.30).

An important chap in his time, but now just another smug marble guy.

Kristin trying her hardest to stick her hand into another lion's mouth. No luck so far.

In all our walks round Genoa, we've been searching for Pasta Fazool. Kristin brought an empty suitcase and will not leave Italy without filling it with packets of dried pasta e fagioli, which she insists make healthier lunches for me when I'm reluctantly working.

This is our 17th market so far and the suitcase is only half full.

Scooter Alley

Searching for little grocery stores

Another grocery, on the famous Via Lomellini. No luck here, but a new shipment of Pasta Fazool is expected at the end of the week. (We scored big in Savona.)

A Saturday night band in the Piazza Fossatello

Another one, a few blocks over. We ran into four of these as we walked home carrying all our Pasta Fazool.

The next day, we're off to visit Savona 40km to the west, seen here. And then we're back.

Our last morning here, and a last walk through the 12th century commercial arcades, the Sottoripa, along the waterfront.

The Porto Antico, with the "biosphere" in the centre and some kind of turning sail installation, without the sails on it

In the Molo Quarter, a peninsula along the Porto Antico that housed warehouse complexes: Art.

Hugo the garbage dinosaur, by Serge van de Put

'EATALY'. A catchy slogan; there are a number of eateries in this port building (as well as the Antarctic Museum), but the 'Burger Fast Food' establishment stands out.

La Lanterna, the 12th century lighthouse on the far side of the Porto Vecchio

The Castello d'Albertis and one of the 16th-17th century fortresses ringing the city

This store participates in the price freeze movement. Now we're off for home.

A stopover in Milan and a breath of fresh air

Milan Centrale, with renovations, a gathering place for the homeless folks, and not much fresh air

The train to Switzerland. We're being wished a good retirement.


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 11 March 2012.


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