Europe 2012: Day 52 — Nice to Genova

Piazza de Ferrari in Genova, Italy

Saturday, 7/28/12

Woke at 6:15am.   It is sunny and I bet it will be hot!

Today we leave France to go to Italy.   Our first stop in Italy will be Genova (also spelled Genoa).   Why Genova?  It is half way between Nice and Rome .  A direct train to Rome would have been 9 hours so we decided to stay somewhere in between for a couple of nights.   Travel days can be a drag, you know.

We arrive at the Nice train station at 8:15am.   Today it is not nearly as crowded at the train station as it was yesterday.   This is a relief!  We will be using our EuroPass today and as we were told by our French ticket agent yesterday, we do not need a ticket.

When we get on the train, it is full but there are seats available.   I sit in the main cabin, my DH sits next to the door with his luggage since there is no place to store it.     We both sit on the right hand side of the train so we can watch the Mediterranean go by as we head off toward the French/Italian border.

Bye-bye, France!

So, what did we learn in France?

  • You can’t assume that the French ticket agents will give you the best train accommodation.  You need to know the train schedule better than they do.
  • My DH and I are big French city people, not little French village people.

About an hour later, we leave our French train to board our Italian train.  This train is different — each coach is made up of  rooms containing six seats each.   The rooms take up on one side of the coach with a narrow passage way with windows and fold away seats on the other side.    We settle ourselves into the first empty room we find – we have it all to ourselves!

As the train ride progresses through its scheduled stops, another game of musical chairs begins.   A family of six have reserved our room!  They show us their tickets and we move out.    Like homeless people, we gather up our earthly belongings and look for another room with empty seats.   We find one with three people who allow us to join them.  One was a young Italian woman who spoke English.  She explains to us, “Yes, all Italian trains require seat reservations.”   I guess we should have not been so eager to believe the French ticket agent yesterday.  To him, we were just a couple of dumb tourists who were bothering him with his job!

A few stops later, as people with reservations board the train, both my DH and I (and our luggage) have been relegated to the passage-way seats.   Every time someone comes by, we stand up, move our luggage out of the way, let the people pass, sit back down, and adjust our luggage.    Every aisle seat is taken by the time we approach the Genova station.  We gather up our stuff and begin the delicate dance of people with baggage to the coach door.  By this time it occurs to me that I speak no Italian.  Neither does my DH.

We arrive in Genova at 11am.   Genova is a large port city on the edge of the Italian coast.  Huge cruise ships leave from this port – each the size of a small independent nation!  As with most large cities, the Genova train stations has taxi stands where you queue up to get a taxi.   It took a while to find it, but we did.  Within no time, we are in a taxi, driving through Genova, and arrive at the doorstep of our hotel, the Hotel Sonana, at 11:30am.   Best of all, our room is ready — it has air conditioning!

Did I mention that it is hot?  Really hot!

The hotel clerk, Sergio, is nice!  He speaks broken English but it sounded good to us!   We were able to check in and get lunch recommendations without a problem.   Once we settled our bags in the room, we grabbed the city map and board the two-person elevator to go down the four floors to the lobby and out the door in search of lunch.  Here are some pictures:

Genova Train Station, Italy.

Genova Train Station (Italy).

Covered streets are great when it is hot!  (Genova, Italy)

Black and white striped buildings are popular in Genova, Italy.

It was hot!  I mean, really hot!    As I mentioned, Genova is an old port town that has been around for centuries.  The streets around the hotels are made up of porticos (stone arched walk-ways) that provide cool and shady protection from the sun.   It took a while, but we find Trattoria Rosemarino – an up-scale Italian restaurant specializing in Ligurian dishes that Sergio recommended.  Nothing on the menu looks familiar to us.  I order the fish of the day (Tuna) and my DH order the seafood pasta.   Both portions were just right and the food was excellent!  We lingered over a bottle of cold water in the dark air-conditioned room.

After lunch, we went back to our room so I could rest.   I was having problems with the heat.  My DH kept me company — what a guy!

Around 8pm, we go out and do the walking tour of the old part of Genova that is highlighted on the map we got from the hotel.  The temperature is much cooler and the light allows for better photography too.   This city is quite the surprise.  The architecture is a mix of Roman, Gothic, and Baroque.   We stroll down the street of Palaces – hugh homes where the wealthy Genovenes (bankers, importers, and fabric manufactures) use to live.  We make our way down to the harbor – a depressing place where the main structure appears to be the elevated highway.   Maybe it will look better tomorrow.  Here are some more pictures:

Street next to the harbor. (Genova, Italy)

Old buildings by the harbor?   The building on the right is old.  The building on the left is newer — it has a painted facade to look like sculpture and  brick.  (Genova, Italy)

Another painted building. (Genova, Italy)

A church we must visit. (Genova, Italy)

A Palazzo we must see. (Genova, Italy)

The original tower and gate to the city of Genova, Italy.

We decide to get something to eat around 9pm.  We stop at a little place that serves homemade pasta.   I order a homemade pasta dish – wide noodles in pesto and a cheesy white sauce.  My DH orders a Tomato Salad.    Together, they were really good!    As usual, we spent most of the meal watching the world go by.

Dinner our first night in Genova, Italy. The food was simply but good — pasta and a salad and a very cold bottle of water!

Once back at the hotel, I decide to research Genova sites and work my blog.   The only place in the hotel that had a strong and dependable WiFi signal was the breakroom – a dark and humid place.    I worked on the blog but I was not alone – a mosquito or two were there with me.  I have a least a dozen bites on my legs to prove it.

Quote of the day:  “We should have known better.” — My DH regarding the French ticket agent as we sit with our luggage in the passage-way of an Italian train.


2 thoughts on “Europe 2012: Day 52 — Nice to Genova

  1. Hi Anna & Mark, I haven’t taken the time to get back on and follow your blog for well over a week. It’s Aug 28th today, but I see the blog updates only go into the beginning of August, so I don’t have much to catch up on. I am so enjoying your blog entries. It’s funny because I get a book a month from a leadership group and the book of the month was called “Italy” where the author, who is a co-founder to the leadership group, wrote about their family of six trip to Italy for one month. I am taking this as signs that a trip of this magnitude is in the future for me. So far what I read in the book, it wasn’t their family of six that had reserved seats on the train because it seems they are enjoying the same kind of “lack of full disclosure” that you received and would have loved to have known. They also had the experience of having their GPS get busted and are looking to purchase a new one. They started out in Tuscany… Moremma area. He made mention that the food is absolutely… fantastic. He said that it’s hard to make reservations also because the owner open when ever .. and close’s a very laid back way of living.

    • How funny that the family in your book has some of the same experience as we have had! I will be home visiting the family for Thanksgiving, I can give you some advice about planning your own trip it you like.


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