After the 2 nights in Venice, we began a journey of train rides across Italy to get back to Rome to board our second cruise which was to take us to the Greek Isles.

The Old Harbour

The first city we visited was Genoa, 290kms (180 miles) West of Venice, the capital of the Italian region of Liguria and the sixth-largest city in Italy. To get there we travelled by train, a journey had to be broken by a 1-hour stopover and changing of trains at Milan. We were fortunate to be travelling using a Eurail Pass which not only can be used on the trains but also on all public transport. A very valuable purchase must be done within one’s own country, all on-line. They are very efficient and the service is excellent.

Travelling across Italy and watching the scenery change was a beautiful experience. From fairly flat land on to mountains. With having to change times of our train in Venice and the hour long wait in Milan, we finally arrived in Genoa after 5pm, having told our B&B host that we expected to arrive between 2 & 3pm. Unfortunately, the train we were on didn’t have Wi-Fi and so we couldn’t let her know that we would be late. All the high-speed trains do have Wi-Fi which is so helpful.

When we arrived at Genoa Station, getting out of it proved to be quite a task. There were plenty of Exit signs but the exits themselves either went to other platforms or up long flights of stairs. We were totally flummoxed as how to leave the station and get to the street where we had been told to get the No 34 bus to Via Lemellini where the B&B was located. We stood to one side and tried to ask for assistance. My first approach was to an older gentleman who looked at me as if I had asked him to stand on his head and walked straight past. Right behind him was a younger man who offered help without being asked. As soon as we told him our problem, he lifted one of our suitcases, the heavier one, and headed off up a flight of stairs, checking to ensure that we were right behind him. He then took the case right to the bus, put it on the bus and told the bus driver where we were to alight. When I asked if we had taken him out of his way he replied, “Not too much.” I guessed it was quite a bit, really, but what a wonderful gentleman.

As we left the station, we saw a large statue of Christoforo Columbo (or Christopher Columbus, as we know him). Genoa was the home of his birth in 1451, but he set sail on his journey to find a water route to the East by sailing West under the authority of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, the Roman Catholic Monarchs of Spain. He sailed across the Atlantic 4 times between 1492 and 1503. He didn’t discover the Americas, thousands of people already lived there, but his explorations did start the age of colonisation on that continent.

Christoforo Columbo

We arrived at our B&B and were rather disappointed with its location in that Via Lominelli was dirty and in very poor condition with buildings in need of repair. We found our building at the end of the street and it had a beautiful old front door, made of heavy metal and patterned. Each time we went in and out we said that we should get a photo of the door but never did. So maddening! The apartment was on the 4th floor and accessed by the tiniest of lifts. We had to use it 1 at a time. We did have a lovely host, Maria, who was really keen to help us enjoy Genoa supplying us with a map and informing us of the special places and how to get to them. There was a small balcony off of our which ran the full length of the apartment, being available to all 3 rooms, one of which was occupied by relatives on a full-time basis and they hung their laundry there for us all to see. The other quaint thing was the dish drying cloth used as a mat at the door. There was no real view from the apartment, except for the buildings up and down the street.

Our first view of Via Lominelli and, yes, it was this dark

Our portion of the balcony. Note the drying cloth as a mat
The building opposite the balcony

We had 1 full day in Genoa so we made sure that we filled every moment in the city. As we left the building, to our left was a small piazza or square off which were 4 roads besides Via Lemellini. We turned right and went back up the street and followed the main road down to the harbour where there were both an indoor and outdoor marine museum. On the way we passed some beautiful villas, a beautiful old church, a castle high up on a hill and variety of shops and restaurants. One of the things we really enjoy is just walking up and down the lanes and streets to get the feel of a city.

Genoa was major Mediterranean naval power, particularly from the 16th to 19th Centuries. It houses the largest Maritime Museum on the Mediterranean set up on the old harbour. It is an interactive museum and appeals to all ages. On the water itself there is a museum of older craft and a submarine. It was a fascinating place to have visited.

Boats in the Outdoor museum
The submarine with the indoor Maritime Museum at the back

There were 2 other places we wanted to visit so, after a light lunch at one of the restaurants, we took the Underground, using our Eurail Pass, to the Ferrari Fountain situated in the Piazza De Ferrari surrounded by grand buildings. There were also pots of Oleanders in flower all around the perimeter of the fountain as well as many small fountains. It was truly beautiful. The Piazza itself is very interesting with many very busy streets leading off it in every direction. Some of the buildings which include The Exchange, a 19th Century Neo-Baroque building and the Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti which holds sculptures from Genoa and Liguria.

Ferrari Fountain with the Art Academy at the back

Small fountains and flowering Oleanders, with The Exchange on the left

As we left to walk up one of the main roads in the city, Via XX Settembre and in front of the Teatro Carlo Felice, built in 1828 and which is one of the finest and largest opera houses in Italy, there was large statue of a horse carrying Giuseppe Garibaldi, considered the Father of the Fatherland. He was a great general who had contributed to the Unification of Italy and the creation of the Kingdom of Italy. There are statues of him in almost every town and city in the country.

Garibaldi in front of the Opera House

We were walking up Via XX Settembre to find the lift that would take us up to the highest point in Genoa, Belvedere. All the way up the street, strung between the lamp posts, were beautiful decorations. In the shop where we purchased lunch we asked the reason for them but were told that there was no special reason. They had been there for some months and were appreciated.

Via XX Settembere with decorations

At the top of the street, we came to a large, extremely busy intersection where 5 different roads met. At the centre of the intersection was a circle with a statue of Victor Emmanuel II. We sat on a bench and ate our lunch while trying to work out in which direction we needed to go as the map, which Maria had given to us, was not very clear. From where we were sitting there was a tunnel off to the left, immediately to the right was a large park and further round was a very steep narrow hill. Directly opposite was a statue up some stairs on top of a grassy hill so we decided to take a closer look at that while thinking about how to reach the lift to Belvedere. I have since learnt that the statue is of a 19th Century journalist, politician and activist, Standbeeld Giuseppe Mazzini. He strongly supported the unification of Italy as a democratic republic instead of the dozens of separate states and kingdoms, many controlled by foreign governments. On another area of grass below where the Journalist’s statue was situated, there was a bust of his mother, Maria Drago Mazzini.

The intersection where we had our lunch. The statue of the journalist is behind the tree.
The Journalist Standbeeld Giuseppe Mazzini.
Maria Drago Mazzini

Once there we could see that a steady stream of people was going down a set of stairs, so we followed them and came out at the entrance to the tunnel. Although there was construction work taking place inside the tunnel, we followed the other pedestrians and came out at another intersection. Now we really did not know where to go so asked at a local pharmacy where an employee showed us that the entrance to the lift was right across the road.

The tunnel through which we walked
The lift was through the door headed by the white sign above it. At the back is one of the Basilica Bell Tower
View to the harbour 
View across the city
From the city to the mountains

What fun we had finding the place but well worth it in the end. On stepping out of the lift we were really pleased that we had made the effort to get there. From this viewpoint one gets a 3600 panoramic view of Genoa. We spent almost an hour enjoying this opportunity to get an overall idea of Genoa which rises quite steeply from the sea to the mountains. From one spot we could see a bell tower which we later learnt was one of 2 as part of the Basilica of Santissima Annunziata del Vastato.

The Basilica

Just outside the viewing area was a school after-care facility and the children were all outside playing various games. One little fellow fascinated us as he was by himself playing with a piece of cardboard at the base of the tree. If I had spoken Italian, I would have tried to find out what he was doing. Before leaving we got a gentleman to take our photograph at this beautiful spot.

On returning to the street, we found that we were at a bus stop at which a No. 34 bus would stop. We chose to take the bus back to the B&B, have a shower and change before going out to dinner to a Turkish restaurant, owned by Pakistanis in this Italian city just outside our building as we had celebrated our anniversary, Father’s Day and my birthday in the past 3 days.

Trevor and Vicky at the view site