For the avid readers of the blog, we have been in hiatus for a couple of days as we spend a proportion of our time navigating our way throughout this beautiful Italian City - we did not die of food poisoning! In fact, the quality of eateries here is excellent. We had just had a bad experience.
I mentioned in the first blog for Genova that the architecture here is exquisite. I have attached some photos with captions for those that have an interest.
Yesterday and today the FGIs have begun maintaining the theme of this trip - that is getting into people's homes, eating their food and gathering an understanding their lifestyle.
Last night we were invited to Alba's house. The connection here is that Tony Rao is her son, Alex, godfather. She lives south of our hotel room so we take the underground to Brignole and get picked up by her. Alba's car only fits five people but here travelling with six is not a second thought - neither, of course, is my panic and anxiety as I run through all the permutations that could result from travelling, unrestrained in a vehicle designed for five and not six people! Alba lives in a suburb called Albaro. She is in the process of renovating and extending her house. Houses here need to be earthquake proof so the walls and frame are all concrete and brick blocks. There is no timber used here. Her partner, Claudio, is very obliging and apart from a slow start to conversations we were heavily entrenched in exchanging stories and experiences by the end of the night. Alba currently works as a real estate agent but is moving into project management. Houses are very cheap here at the moment so her plans are to buy, renovate then sell. Apparently project management is lucrative here because the government provides a 65% tax deduction for renovations and extensions but most people are unaware of the laws and requirements for those deductions, hence the benefit of a project manager. Alex, her son, works with her and looks very similar to Tony's son, Mark.
Dinner was superb! We had an antipasto entree that consisted of local hams, mortadella and salami. The bread that she served was homemade and was a combination of focaccia and ciabatta. This was followed by perfectly roasted pork basted in combination of fresh italian herbs and olive oil. Sides included roasted potatoes ( patatine ) and roasted vegetables and fresh, seasonal salad. We washed it all down with a 2004 vintage of a local Genovese red wine. Magnifico!
The night ended with another crazy car trip, this time all the way back to the hotel room. Scary!
Today we were invited to the house of Piero and his wife, Anna. Piero is an old school friend of Tony and he still lives in the house that he was brought up in as a child. It just so happens that Piero's house is a short walk away from the house that Tony was brought up in so this is a true nostalgia visit for the FGIs. We make our way by bus to the suburb of Zerlino high up in the Genovese hills. As we travel, I am bombarded with Tony's knowledge of the area; old haunts, schools, points of interest, more than I could possibly write about in this blog.
Piero meets us at the bottom of their street. This is because the ascent to their house is quite steep at a distance of about 300 metres. Johanna and the kids are bundled into Piero's car and Tony and I walk our way up. As we walk I am introduced to all that was important to his past, along the way.
Anna has prepared a magnificent feast! Antipasto consisted of local hams and salami's as well as pickled Porcini mushrooms, eggplant and olives, all home grown. This was complimented by freshly baked focaccia and home made red wine! Second course was spaghetti with pomodoro and porcini mushroom sauce. Stupendo! Third course (yes!) was freshly killed and roasted cingiale (wild boar) with patatine. As the day wore on Anna added some fresh sausages barbecued on their outdoor oven hot plate. We were also treated to fresh figs and uva de fragole (strawberry grapes) all fresh from their garden. Full of food I left the FGI group for a passeggiata ( walk to help my digestion ). I brought my camera and took some photos of the greenery and landscape surrounding Piero's house. Truly a memorable day.
As I write this we are contemplating a pizza but no one ( other than Lucy, of course!) is keen! We'll see if she wins this one! The lights of Genova have just started flickering as I peer out of our 6th floor hotel window. It has cooled down for the first time since landing in Italy. Tony has fallen asleep on the bed beside me and has started snoring. Ruby is watching Italian MTV and Lucy is desperate to ask Johanna, for the tenth time in ten minutes, if we can get a pizza. It all appears calm to the untrained eye but I know that between now and the time my head hits the pillow, anything could happen!