Monday, October 31, 2016

Portifino and Rapallo For the Day

Today Andrea has taken the day off and both he and Federico are taking us to Protifino and Rapallo for the day. Wow - this is an added bonus.

Portifino is about a half hour from Genoa.  Travelling along the coast the roads are narrow and busy. But not crazy.  I would really hate to see this area in the summer when the tourist are here and ships are in port.

Since I really didn't have any idea we would be going here I really had no idea what to expect.  Sure I had heard of Portifino and the area.  I had heard it is very beautiful.  I had no idea how small it is.  It is really a hamlet.  

We arrive in town and we park in the parking garage.  How they manage to build a parking garage here is beyond me. Thank goodness Andrea is a great driver and is use to these narrow roads and even narrower parking garages.

We walk along the water.  People are busy having a coffee, talking with locals, and tourists are shopping.

One thing I have forgotten to mention is this whole area is known for focaccia bread.  When we first arrived in Genoa we stopped at one of the many focaccia bakeries.  Oh my God!  To have it warm! Well each day we stop and get fresh focaccia for the meal.  And once in Portifino we stop at the local focaccia bakery and buy focaccia to enjoy as a snack. Note once we left the area we no longer found these focaccia bakeries - not in Florence, Rome or elsewhere.  Or maybe I was just missing them (probably a good thing).

We climb the hill which is park of the original Roman road system up to the Church of San Giorgio. The views are stunning.

We stop and enjoy a great meal of pizza and wine of course - are you noticing a theme with each meal.

I enjoyed Portifino but there is not a whole lot here.  If you visit I encourage you to venture out to the other towns of Santa Margherita and Rapallo.

After two hours we are back in the car heading South.  We drive thru the lovely town of Santa Margherita but we keep going.

Federico and Bernie saving the parking spot
Our destination is the next town of Rapallo which is 10 km from Portifino.  Rapallo is a fair size town that hugs the sea. The beautiful sea walk goes on forever.  We walk hand in hand (Bernie and I) and we both comment that we can't believe we are here.  I am so happy.

A few streets from the sea is the main shopping area.  I spot a cardigan!  See I lost my favorite cardigan a few years ago when I departed the Grand Princess.  Since then I haven't found an everyday cardigan.  This one is perfect and the price is right so I buy it.  My only souvenir of the trip it ends up being but one I will use for a long time (unless of course I leave it on another ship).

We stop for gelato.  Here Federico lets us in on his favorite gelato dessert.  Two shots of espresso over two scoops of vanilla gelato.  Oh my - ends up Bernie will remember this for the cruise. I get a dish of mango fruit covered in gelato then whip cream!  

More walking and admiring the city - stop again - this time for espresso!  Gee I could get use to this life.  But note this was over the course of the entire afternoon.

On the drive back to Genoa I am having a hard time staying awake. 

Once home we enjoy a quiet evening with a friend of Federico and Andrea of wine, cheese, meats, honey and nuts - a great dinner.  

Tomorrow we are on our way to Florence.

A Tour of Genoa

It is nice to wake and slowly get ready.  Federico makes us a wonderful breakfast and we relax sipping our drinks - of course mine is a Cappuchino.

Today Federico is going to show us around Genoa.  How lucky are we to have a tour of a city by a local.

We are excited because we get to take the bus!  Yes I know kind of weird, but hey that is just what us bus drivers like to do when on vacation - take the bus.  Buses here are very clean and new.  

We notice a woman get on with a dog on a leash. Apparently here it is okay to do this.  As I mention to Federico that at home all pets must be in a closed carrier to prevent accidents/bites etc.  I notice the dog is throwing up!  Yup he is sick.  Well of course this can happen.  

Then to my shock the woman actually got napkins and cleaned it up.  Well that was a relief.  I am sure if this happened at home and someone did not clean it up someone would slip and then sue transit.  Anyways it is cute to see this dog on board.

We get off at Piazza Verdi right at the train station and large bus loop.

We walk up to Piazza Della Victtoria (Victory Square).  It use to be called Piazza della France but it was changed after the 2nd World War.

Walking along the main street called 22 sept.  The street is lined with shops, business and lots of people.  If you stay on this street you end up at the Piazza de Ferrari where you find a beautiful fountain, Metro Station, Tourist Information and Church.

At this main Piazza you also find a stop for the hop on hop off bus.  Here is a link to their webpage

We stop at Christopher Columbus' House.  Well this is where he was born and raised and the people of Genoa are very proud of this.  Although Spain lays claim to him.  I guess because they funded so many of his voyages.

We stroll towards the large city gates to the old city - which feels amazing.  Reminds me quite a bit of Naples.  We walk thru the old city toward the port.

At the port there are a few cruise ships in today.  This is a regular stop for a few lines, especially MSC Cruise Lines.  

Looking towards the port from the Old City

Once down at the water there are a lot of things to see. Pirate Ship, Aquarium, walk way, and shops and cafes.


a Metro stop is very close to the port

Many of the buildings in Genoa are painted with amazing pieces of art and many are trump d'oeil meaning they trick your eye.  So sometimes you think you are looking at a real statue when actually it is a painted statue.

Federico takes us to a restaurant/store called Eat Italy (we did see another one in Florence later in the trip - here is their website).  Here they see local foods that are in season.  But upstairs is a restaurant.  You order at the counter and then deliver the food to you.  The views are amazing, and the company even better.

I get spaghetti prosciutto with piccoroni cheese - yum 

There is a train that shuttles visitors around - pick up is right near the pier

We stroll back uphill which I must add is much more difficult after a lunch of pasta that included wine and is uphill.  Time to reward myself!

Federico takes us to his favorite gelato place - I try the fig chocolate.  I want to try local foods, attempt something I normally wouldn't.  

We walk so much today, but I am loving it.  Note if you come to Genoa be prepared to walk.  Most streets are easy to get around, but they are often uneven and since the city is on the side of a mountain be prepared to climb.  But if you don't have mobility problems you should have no issues.  If you do, look at taking a shuttle or hop on hop off bus or look at hiring a guide for the day.

Andrea is a work and is just finishing up and arranges to pick us up on the way home.  We get the chance to meet his Mom Barbara as he is driving her home too.

The evening was rather quiet.  Federico made a lovely roast chicken, served with wine, cheese and lots of laughs.

This was my view as we returned to the apartment