I have to confess it was a little hard to leave London just as the recently absent sun was putting in an appearance for a few days while the forecast for Genoa promised only grey and rain. A prediction borne out on my arrival as we landed.
However, little can really dampen the excitement of arriving in a new city, especially for me an Italian one, and I’m looking forward to exploring and discovering some of what Genoa has to offer.
The decision to come to Genoa, capital of Liguria in the top north-eastern part of Italy, bordering France, was entirely based on wanting to do a 3-day art history course here with Hotel Alphabet (www.hotelalphabet.com). I’ve done some short courses in London with Marie-Anne and loved them so to sign on to a longer one – and in Italy! – was too tempting to resist. The course begins tomorrow and thus I needed to arrive today and I tagged on an extra couple of days at the end to explore food rather than art! For Genoa is an exciting place for the foodie: the home of pesto, made with the lighter Ligurian olive oil which doesn’t overpower the basil; and focaccia, and other gorgeous food to find and sample.
I booked flight + hotel as I often do with British Airways as it usually works out cheaper than booking a hotel separately. Best Western Hotel Metropoli is a basic 3* hotel; nothing fancy but based right in the centre and only a short walk away from where I have to meet Anne-Marie in the mornings of the art course.
It may be simple but it has everything I need and the staff have been wonderfully helpful and friendly, even before my arrival in an exchange of emails, and then greeted me warmly today.
The window looks out over the small piazza of Fontane Marose.
I arrived too early to get the keys to my room – it was only about 11am. However, they said it would be ready if I came back about 1.00 I asked for a map and some advice about which direction to set off in and headed to Piazza De Ferrari. En route I went into a little bar for a cappuccino and mini croissant (€1.90). Breakfast had been a long time before!
Everywhere umbrellas hung from above.
I was intrigued and asked about them at the hotel, but they apparently have nothing to do with rain and the colours are to celebrate a flower festival here.
In the big piazza I found a small organic market with stalls selling some very tempting goods.
I looked at my map and saw I wasn’t far from Mercato Orientale, a large market I’d read about, so I headed down Via XX Settembre. I entered through an archway off the main road and found myself in a wonderful large local market; a place for real food shopping and not a touristy place.
This is when I feel it would be nice to rent an apartment some time and do some cooking. Though in reality, as someone who lives alone, I actually like staying in hotels and being looked after for a few days!
Shopping arcades seem to be a feature of northern Italian cities. Genoa doesn’t appear to have as many as Bologna and Turin but I was reminded of them both. Though, lovely as it is, Genoa doesn’t have the prettiness of Bologna nor the grandeur and elegance of Turin.
Back along Via XX Settembre close to Piazza De Ferrari, I found a great cafe for lunch: Caffe Boasi.
My focaccia filled with ham, cheese, tomato and rocket was perfect and delicious. It was served – as always in Italy – very lightly toasted and warm, not burning hot as too often is in UK. Because I’m on holiday I had a small glass of local white wine to go with it.
I couldn’t resist a little cannoli to go with an espresso to finish. I noticed they had some Baratti & Milano chocolates from Turin, though sadly – as I asked in my best Italian – not their fabulous chocolate and hazelnut spread.
I’d had a great time starting my exploration of Genoa but now it was time to go back to the hotel and collect my room key. After a very early 4.30am start this morning I felt in need of a rest before going out again this evening.