Our week in Chiavari was super chill. With the exception of our trip to Cinque Terre, we stayed in the city limits and really got into a groove. A typical day went like this: wake up late, breakfast on the deck (eggs on toast or cereal). Then change to our bikinis and lay in the sun while Colin works on Clutter. Two or three people head down the walking path to town and buy fresh food for dinner, careful to avoid the siesta hours between noon and 4 when most shops are closed. Maybe stop at the beach for a swim (Colin and I declined – my new bikini is too skimpy for public viewing anyway). In the afternoon back to the deck for white wine then red, reading and chatting and eating tapas. Lots of good, cheap wine in Italy as you might expect. Dinner at 9 or 10 o’clock, usually cooked by Jeff and the girls although a few nights we ventured down to eat out. Colin and I set tables and cleaned up, then we share some more wine until sometime after midnight. Repeat!
On our last day we followed the walking path up into the hills instead of down, and discovered it’s a huge loop trail called the 5 Towers. We stopped near the top for wine and ice cream. Then Jeff took the train back up to London for his flight out, and Colin, Kim, Lia and I spent the day in big city Genoa (Genova) before going our separate ways. It may have been the week of doing not-much in a small town, but I was thrilled by Genova. It’s steeped in history and all that, but as a modern city it’s also very comfortable and functional. We visited the big food market Mercato Orientale and ogled the fish and cheeses, enjoyed pedestrian-only streets and shopping centers in beautiful centuries-old buildings. Their old city was the best of all though; winding cobbled streets and tiny alleys; cafes and brothels and people selling odds and ends from card tables on the side of the street. We visited the Galata Maritime Museum which was very hands-on with full sized boat replicas and a surprisingly engaging simulation of heading to Ellis Island at the turn of the last century. Everyone was given a different person to be; mine was an elderly actress who survived the Titanic only to die six months later.
We stopped for coffee then wine on a wide carless street in the old city, and were delighted as the waiter starting bringing us unasked for nibblets: nuts, chips, focaccia , sausage pizza and fruit. By the end we were full enough to skip dinner, and even more surprised by the bill: espresso, wine and a meal for only 4 euro each. I think he must have liked us, but man after that I wanted to stay another week. We took a funicular up to a lush upscale neighborhood and walked along a ridge back to the train station where we said goodbye to Kim and Lia, who are heading to Barcelona next. Colin and I spent the night in a neat hotel (the Albergo Argentina) which takes up half a floor in a huge old palace near the train station. We had a shared bath but private sink and bidet in the room, unusual but convenient.
I guess to sum Italy up: it was as old as they say but cheaper than I expected, the sun was warm and the wine was excellent. Sharing it with friends was the best part, we’re going to miss them!