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(travel diary) DAY 4: Genoa, ‘la superba’

In Europe, Italy, Itália, Travel | Viagens, Viajar on October 21, 2011 by "Our traveling without moving!..." Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Arriving to Genoa, even inside its impressive Central Station, we can imagine the kind of place we are going to visit: so many people, running from one side to another, hopping on and off the trains… locals in their everyday life, tourists carrying its bags… a great city, not in vain called ‘la superba‘ – the superb – and, now we can tell you, that we weren’t wrong: Genoa is a surprising city, full of life, breathing history and art, posing as an unavoidable landmark in the Mediterranean Sea.  

Leaving the train station, we, immediately, faced Christopher Columbus – well, actually, we faced his statue – “overseeing” its hometown from the top of his pedestal. Wait… but… hometown… wasn’t he Portuguese? Wasn’t he Spanish? Leaving behind our historical questions, the walk continues and, in front our eyes, step by step, the Via Balbi appears, uncovering the ‘palazzos that once housed the richest families and, for tonight, they’re housing us!

 With some tips given in the hotel, we – just like two Columbus – set off to discover Genoa: in the way to our first stop, Porto Vecchio, we could admire the medieval legacy that this town offers, but, when we get there, to the sea, to the Mediterranean Sea and to the most incredible port we’ve ever seen, integrating the old and the new in a natural and harmonious movement, in sum, a pleasure to our eyes!

An old galleon is standing in front of us but, to get there (to take a better photography… you all know how this works!), first we have to surpass a line of street vendors… turning a simple shoot in an adventure of contortionism!

 As we continue through the promenade, we find modernism at the seaside: the aquarium, the ‘biosfera’ (a globe structure housing tropical species), an old freighter now turned into a modern bar, the ‘lanterna’ commanding its boats, the city lights reflected in the water and, the unique, “bigo”, a panoramic elevator different from anything we have ever seen, resembling giant ship masts… in one word? AMAZING!

As we continued our walk to the end of the bay, we were seduced by the genovese flavours exposed in dozens of stalls, so, making use of the tip given at the hotel and our precious pocket map, we headed to the Antica Osteria di Vico Palla… not an easy job: in a dark lost alley we found a light focusing a wooden door, so, “let’s see what we’ll find!…” was our thinking but, immediately, the moment we crossed the door – and we saw the Michelin recommendation! – we knew that this was the place! But the best was yet to come: the waiter nicely received us, telling us that, for today, they were completely full… We, arguing in our best Italian (very close to level ZERO), tried to convince him to find us a little spot just for the two of us and…YES…he got us a table, but, with one condition: we only had 1 hour before the arrival of the booking for that table… It still worth it! As we were going to the table, the waiter thought we were french and, of course, started speaking fluent french! Can you imagine our faces? Well, you have to imagine more than that: Can you imagine us babbling some phrases in (some language close to) french?! 

 Finally, in “our” table, we had the chance to meet the menu; every detail in the place was evoking the aspect of an ‘Antica Osteria’ – old tavern – even the menu card, presented in a small black board written with a piece of chalk. When we were addressed by another waiter to help us choose the best options, we spoke in english – it was enough of playing linguistics for today… Was it? The waiter, assuming that we weren’t english, told us the menu in spanish! The good thing is that we do speak spanish (later we find out that the waiter also spoke portuguese and we could have spoken our language from the first minute!). The result of our efforts: as starter, the most famous flavour in town, the pesto genovese with mandilli; as main dish, a delicious seared tuna fish and a tasty fried codfish, both musts for tasting the simplicity, but also the quality, of the region food.

Our walk continues towards the historical centre; following via San Lorenzo we are confronted with the narrow alleys – the called ‘vico’ – that were multiplied along our way. Step by step, we reach the gothic cathedral, solemnly erected in its black and white stone, protected by greatest lions.

 Between tall and majestic buildings, we reach the cultural area of the city, the ‘piazza Ferrari’. In that moment, the time stopped: we, in the heart of Genoa, admiring the great fountain, sprouting life in every drop, slowly revealing a shy soundtrack… of Tango with couples passionately dancing the argentinean rhythms, what a surprise!

The (supposed) house where Columbus was born was the next stop in our itinerary. The house or, at least, what’s left of it as nowadays we can only admire the façade. 

The actual Via Garibaldi, composed by countless ‘pallazo’ of the 16th century, has become small to house so many beauty and luxury; of course that a place like this is difficult to ignore and, the UNESCO, recognized all its grandiosity as a store window bearing the greatest treasures in town immortalized in the numerous “rolli” – mansions that received the “highest” guests – along its longitude. By night, with the low lights, the whole place still stunning: the old façades revealing its colours and reliefs are a detail of a unique beauty.

 And… with all of this grandiosity… you will excuse us but we are leaving for our royal chamber. Good night!

 _________________________________________________

 Chegando a Génova, ainda dentro da impressionante Estação Central, podemos imaginar o tipo de lugar que vamos visitar: tantas pessoas, de um lado para outro, entrando e saindo dos comboios… moradores na sua rotina diária, turistas “passeando” as suas malas, um vaivém de trabalhadores… uma grande cidade, sem dúvida, não será em vão que a chamam ‘la superba‘ – a soberba – e, agora, podemos dizer, que não estávamos errados: Génova é uma cidade surpreendente, cheia de vida, respirando história, arte e música, com uma gastronomia INVEJÁVEL, expondo-se orgulhosa como um marco incontornável no mar Mediterrâneo.

Saindo da estação, nós, imediatamente, encontramo-nos com Cristóvão Colombo – bem, na verdade, encontramos a sua estátua – “controlando” a sua cidade natal a partir do topo do seu pedestal. Mas…esperem… sua cidade natal?… não era ele português? Não era ele espanhol? Bem, deixando para trás as nossas questões históricas, a caminhada continua e, em frente a nossos olhos, passo a passo, surge a Via Balbi, desvendando “palácios” que outrora acolheram as famílias mais ricas e que, por esta noite, vão acolher-nos a nós!

Com algumas dicas dadas no hotel, nós – como dois Colombos – partimos à descoberta de Génova: no caminho para a nossa primeira parada, o Porto Vecchio, podemos admirar o legado medieval que esta cidade oferece, mas, ao chegarmos lá, ao mar, ao Mar Mediterrâneo e ao porto mais incrível que alguma vez vimos, integrando o novo e o antigo, num movimento natural e harmonioso, em suma, um prazer para os olhos!

Um majestoso galeão antigo está parado em frente de nós, mas, para chegarmos lá (para tirar uma fotografia melhor… todos sabem como isto funciona!), temos primeiro de ultrapassar uma linha de vendedores de rua… transformando o simples acto de carregar num botão numa aventura de contorcionismo!

À medida que continuamos o passeio, encontramos o modernismo plantado à beira-mar: o grande aquário e a sua “biosfera” (uma estrutura de globo que alberga aves de espécies tropicais), um velho cargueiro agora transformado num bar moderno, a ‘lanterna’ comandando os seus barcos, as luzes da cidade reflectidas na água e, o único “bigo“, um elevador panorâmico diferente de tudo que já vimos, assemelhando-se a gigantes mastros de navios… numa única palavra? FANTÁSTICO!

À medida que continuamos a nossa caminhada até o final da doca, fomos seduzidos pelos sabores genoveses expostos em dezenas de tendas, assim, fazendo uso da dica dada no hotel (e do nosso fiel mapa de bolso) fomos para a Osteria di Vico Antica Palla… mas não foi tarefa fácil: num beco perdido e escuro reparámos numa luz focando uma porta de madeira, “bem, vamos ver o que se encontra!“, pensamos, mas, imediatamente, no momento em que cruzamos a porta – e vimos a recomendação da guia Michelin – nós soubemos que este era o lugar certo!

Mas o melhor ainda estava por vir: o empregado de mesa gentilmente recebeu-nos, dizendo que, para hoje, eles estavam completamente cheios… Nós, argumentando no nosso melhor italiano (muito perto do nível ZERO), tentamos convencê-lo a encontrar-nos um lugarzinho só para nós dois e… SIM! Arranjou-nos uma mesa, mas, sob uma condição: só dispúnhamos de uma hora antes da chegada da reserva para essa mesa… mas, mesmo assim, vale a pena! Quando nos dirigíamos para a mesa, o empregado, pensando que éramos franceses, claro, começou a falar fluentemente francês! Podem imaginar as nossas caras? Bem, têm que imaginar um pouco mais do que isso: Podem imaginar-nos balbuciando frases em (qualquer língua semelhante a) francês?

Finalmente, na “nossa” mesa, tivemos a oportunidade de conhecer o menu; cada detalhe do lugar evocava o aspecto de uma ‘Antica Osteria‘ – taberna antiga – até mesmo o próprio menu, apresentado num velho quadro de ardósia escrito a giz. Quando fomos abordados por um outro empregado, na tentativa de desvendarmos o menu, falámos em inglês – achávamos nós que já bastava de brincar a linguística por hoje – mas, ele, assumindo que não éramos ingleses, disse-nos o menu em espanhol! A sorte é que falamos espanhol (mais tarde descobrimos que o empregado também falava português e que poderíamos ter falado a nossa língua desde o primeiro minuto!)… Mas obtivemos um bom resultado dos nossos esforços: como entrada, o sabor mais famoso da cidade, o pesto genovese com mandilli; como prato principal, um delicioso atum vermelho grelhado e um saboroso bacalhau frito, ambos grandes exemplos para degustação da simplicidade mas, também, da qualidade do alimento da região.

Nossa caminhada continua em direcção ao centro histórico; através da Via San Lorenzo, somos confrontados com as estreitas ruelas medievais – os chamados “vico” – que se multiplicaram ao longo de nosso caminho. Passo a passo, chegamos à catedral gótica, solenemente erigida em pedra preta e branca, ladeada por esculpidos leões.

Entre altos e majestosos edifícios, chegamos à zona cultural da cidade, a ‘piazza Ferrari’, nesse momento, o tempo (quase) parou: nós, no coração de Génova, admirando a grande fonte, brotando vida em cada gota, lentamente revelando uma tímida banda sonora… de Tango… com pares dançando apaixonadamente os ritmos argentinos, que surpresa!

A (suposta) casa onde Colombo nasceu era a próxima parada no nosso itinerário… a casa ou, pelo menos, o que resta dela, uma vez que hoje em dia só podemos admirar a sua fachada…

A actual Via Garibaldi, composta por inúmeros Pallazzo’ do século XVI, torna-se pequena para albergar tanta beleza e luxo; claro, que um lugar como este, é difícil de ignorar e, a UNESCO, reconheceu toda a sua grandiosidade, propondo-a como uma vitrina, imortalizando os maiores tesouros da cidade nos inúmeros rolli – mansões que recebiam os “mais alto” convidados – ao longo de sua longitude. De noite, com as luzes fracas, o lugar fica ainda mais impressionante: com as fachadas antigas revelando as suas cores e relevos – um detalhe de beleza única.

E… com tanta grandiosidade… vão-nos desculpar, mas, o dia já vai longo e será melhor  retirar-nos para os nossos aposentos reais. Boa noite!

31 Responses to “(travel diary) DAY 4: Genoa, ‘la superba’”

  1. Oh I’m hungry for great food and great vistas now. Beautiful!

  2. Wonderful images of your travels!! Superb!

  3. Thanks for reading us! This region is amazing for its gastronomy! I would go back over and over just to taste those flavours again!

  4. Thank you, Craig! Thank you! Words like these are so motivating!

  5. Nice blog! I am going to travel Italy next year so your blog will be a tremendous source of information!

  6. Thanks for visitng my blog – looks like you’ve been enjoying Italy while I was having fun in France. How lucky we both are!

  7. Thanks for passing by! If you need any tips for your travel just let us know!

  8. gorgeous place… i hope to visit this place one day😀

  9. Thanks for the travel inspiration. This is a part of Italy that I have not visited. I like the blog layout! Andrew

  10. Thanks for reading us! Yes, we are both lucky to enjoy some of the european beauty!

  11. I love your blogs and the photos especially!
    Can I recommend it in my blog?

    Can I ask what camera are you using? The photos are superb!

  12. Thanks for your visit!

  13. Thanks to you Andrew, for reading our blog!

  14. Thanks for reading us…and thanks for recommending us in our blog!

    Our camera is a Fuji HS10, is not a professional one, but we really like its performance!

  15. I love your images, especially the layout of them on your blog. They’re so…chic! That food sounds/looks (no doubt tastes) delicious!

  16. Thank you, Janet! Thank you so much for your words!

  17. Love your photos🙂 Somehow they really capture the atmosphere of the place!

  18. Beautiful pictures!!!! Nice pots!!🙂

  19. Thanks, Katie! Feels good to know that we could “print” in our photos some life of Genoa!

  20. Thanks, Katie! Feels good to know that we could “print” in our photos some life from Genoa!

  21. Thank you Kristina! Keep passing by!

  22. Wow now I have a feverish need to visit Genoa. What an incredibly beautiful city. Thank you🙂

  23. Looks like a fabulous city ! And I’m in awe that you’re blogging while traveling, and in two languages no less ! Enjoy your time

  24. Thanks for your words, Brandon! If you have the chance, Genoa, is a really good place to visit.

  25. Another great destination by the looks of it – great post🙂

  26. Thanks, Niko!

  27. Italy is my favourite country in Europe, and this post has given me inspiration on what to do on my next visit there! Thank You for the great pictures and description!

  28. Thanks for your comment, Zishaan!

  29. Thank you for dropping by my blog and also the town that I am living in now. Not many people think of Genoa when they think of Italy but it is a beautfiful and historic city. By the wya, COlumbus was Italian but he coudn’t get the Genoese to finance his expeditions so he headed to Spain and their Royal family thought that he was onto something so they funded him. Thus he was under the Royal patronage of the Spanish and therefore everything he found was Spanish territory. You can visit the house of Colombo. It is open to public for a small fee. Come visit again and let me know. I will take you around.🙂

  30. …the genoese columbus! Did you know that in Portugal we claim that Columbus was portuguese and, actually, in Spain they argue the same, that he was spanish?! We passed by the house but it was already closed… next time, we’ll surely make a visit there… with you, of course!

  31. ….and the debate continues…..!😛 See you all soon!

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