September was a busy month of travelling - I managed 4 countries (including one new one - Portugal) in all. Italy was the last destination in September - a work meeting in Genova on the Ligurian coast.
I had visited Genova in 1999 but only for a day, to visit the aquarium. Designed by Renzo Piano (Genovese himself) it has been open for 20 years and still attracts large numbers of visitors every year - indeed it is the 3rd most visited place in Italy with over 1.2M visitors a year - that statistic certainly surprised me. There were quite a number of facts that surprised me about Genova. It was once a key financial centre in Italy, the Bank of St George was formed in the city in 1407 and was one of Italy's "maritime republics" alongside Venice, Pisa and Amalfi. In the Middle Ages, the rich families of Genoa brought it prosperity and growth. Families such as the Doria, Garibaldi and Balbi made their fortunes and invested in property in the city. This has led to the UNESCO recognising parts of the old town as a World Heritage Site. It was seen as one of the first urban planning projects with parcels of land being made available for the construction of amazing palaces.
The palaces of the Doria Family
The interior courtyard of one of the palaces in the Strada Nuove where colleagues from Norway were staying (they had booked a hotel room, but the hotel was full so they moved them to an apartment in this palazzo!)
Of course, as with many cities, wealth dwindled and in recent years the city has been experiencing a renewed renaissance with the redevelopment of its waterfront, the development of leisure facilities and attracting tourists.
With it's narrow lanes, amazing architecture and fabulous food (think of pesto - a Genovese tradition) it was a delight to visit.
Inside the Genova Aquarium
Genova Harbour (the leisure section)
View over Genova - the city is built between the sea and the mountain and from this image you can see how densely packed.......there are few cars in the centre of Genova.
My colleague and I spent an extra day in Liguria as the meeting finished on a Friday and we took the opportunity to head along the coast to the resort of Santa Margharita and on to Portofino, destination of the rich and famous.
Portofino was once a small fishing village which is now an upmarket resort centred round a colourful little harbour. We took the train to Santa Margharita and then a boat on to Portofino.....we wandered the village, ate lunch in a harbourside cafe and then walked the 5km back along the coast to Santa Margharita - it was a lovely day out.
The lunchtime view.....
|Pariggi - on the walk to Santa Margharita|
The harbour of Portofino
The food in Genova was wonderful - I ate cuttlefish, deep friend cod (the freshest cod ever) and deep fried courgette, rabbit ragu and the ubiquitous pasta with pesto and green beans. The last night we found, by chance, a fabulous pizza restaurant in the centre of Genova. It was called Sciuscia e Sciorbi and was a very modern little eatery with amazing pizza.
When we saw the pizzas arriving at a neighbouring table we were amazed and when similar pizzas arrived at our table we both just laughed and said that there was no way we would ever finish all that pizza.....well 15 minutes later there were 2 clean plates. The dough was so thin and crispy and the toppings so fresh that we were just comfortably full when we finished. My pizza was topped with pesto and stracchino cheese - hence the green colouring (no tomato sauce).
The restaurant is on Via 25 Aprile in the centre and is definitely worth visiting if you are ever in Genova.