Wednesday, March 05, 2014


Now this is more like it.

After my wretched 4 star hotel room in Milan, I’ve been pleasantly surprised, if not pleasantly astonished, by my 4 star hotel room in Genoa. It’s decorated in a sleek modern style, all designer light fittings and bathroom suite, with complementary chamomile tea, bathrobes and slippers, orange blossom scented soaps, and a veritable crate of bathroom freebies: I now have more little bottles of shampoo than a bald man probably needs.

Even Admiral Ackbar got a complementary burger.

Genoa itself is a ridiculously bonkers city. It was built on the steep hillsides around a bay on the Ligurian Sea, meaning that the apartment buildings and skyscrapers are almost literally built on top of each other. The whole city seems to be rearing up, Inception-style, like a wave of stone, tile and brick perpetually on the cusp of breaking.

But apart from the bonkersness, Genoa is another lovely Italian city. The old city is a maze of cobbled streets even narrower than those of Como or Cremona – so narrow in places that two people walking with umbrellas will inevitably catch on each other. Between the narrowness and the steepness, it’s more like walking through the corridors of an ancient castle than through city streets. Occasionally one will emerge into a small piazza, usually dominated by an indulgently decorated church but overshadowed by looming townhouses and palazzos.

Being a maritime city, Genoa’s spirit is directed toward the ocean, and its vast waterfront has an aquarium and a huge 17th century galleon as well as the usual cruise liners and ferries. The Genovese have cleverly raised their waterfront expressway, so that the thundering traffic is out of the way, leaving the ground-level space free for pedestrian malls. The supports for the freeway are decorated with martitime-themed art, including one of Admiral Ackbar’s distant relatives.

With Genoa’s proud relationship with the sea in mind, we decided to have dinner in a local seafood ristorante, and it was up to the usual sensational Italian standards.

Admiral Ackbar was having fun with the insouciant little house vin blanco.

But he was horrified to discover another of his long-lost but delicious cousins on the menu.

He raised quite a ruckus. But then he discovered what happens to calamari that disagrees with me.


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