The rain began to subside as I pulled into Genoa. I was just glad it wasn’t as heavy as it was when I had left Portofino. Sloshing through the rain sucks when you’re wearing leather loafers.
I arranged for my cab driver, Roberto, to take me on a short tour around Genoa before heading back to the ship. We stopped at a few places I didn’t get to see on my last visit here in 2008, so I had the chance to check out some new sights.
The three ships and anchors symbolize the Pinta, the Niña, and the Santa Maria. If you paid any attention during your elementary school history lessons, you’d remember that these were the three ships Christopher Columbus used to discover America. It was pretty impressive to see the tall, flowery hill just as we rounded a corner, and it was a real treat since I probably wouldn’t have even known this place existed had it not been for Roberto.
Speaking of Christopher Columbus, Genoa was actually his hometown. The house where he was alleged to have been born, was our next stop.
I arrived at Columbus’ house, or what’s left of it, and found it surprisingly tiny. Maybe 25 feet in width, if that. I almost walked right past it, since I was expecting something much bigger.
The front of the house didn’t impress me much, but the little garden area in the side and back of it was quite pretty.
From here, it was a short drive to the place I wanted to visit the most: the Cathedral of San Lorenzo. The streets get narrower and narrower as you approach the cathedral. According to Roberto, buildings were constructed tightly together so, during a time of war, enemy invaders could easily be attacked from the upper floor windows. Families could pour cauldrons of boiling-hot water onto the heads of invading armies.
Suddenly, we emerged from the narrow alley and found ourselves in the open expanse of the Piazza San Lorenzo.
This was the first cathedral I had ever visited in Europe, back when I came four years ago. The horizontal stripes across the structure were as eye-catching back then as they were today.
We didn’t get to go inside, as it was closed for some reason. It was a shame, because it’s really quite beautiful in there. Here’s an interior photo I took in 2008:
From San Lorenzo, we continued to Genoa’s main square: the Piazza De Ferrari.
This was a major site in Genoa that I neglected to visit four years ago (I couldn’t stay awake). It’s the financial and historical center of the city. Lots of old palaces and museums are right next to it. I got a chance to see more of that beautiful architecture once more.
It was here where I got the metaphorical cherry on top of my time in Genoa. There was a throng of people crowding around a tent next to that shipping container in the above photo. I looked closer and realized they were selling a local delicacy called focaccia. Focaccia has its origins here in the Ligurian region of Italy, but has gotten popular enough that you can find it relatively easily in the States. If you’ve ever eaten the pizza and cheese breads at Souplantation, you’ve eaten a version of focaccia. In the name of sampling local food, I got myself a slice before heading back to the ship:
Many variations of focaccia exist. The “normal” one is a plain, soft, slightly oily chunk of bread. While I do enjoy plain focaccia, I opted for one with cheese and tomatoes today. It resembles, and tastes kinda like, a pizza. But the bread is thicker than the crusts of most Italian pizzas, and it’s covered in more sauce.
It was soft, saucy, and delicious. I couldn’t ask for a better way to end my day of exploring this region of Italy, than trying some of its most famous cuisine.