Tunnel…bridge with amazing view of the ocean…tunnel…bridge with amazing view of the ocean…tunnel….
This is the 2-hour drive from France to Genoa, Italy. It is a feat of human engineering and beautiful at the same time. We started off counting tunnels with gusto – “SIXTEEN!!! SEVENTEEN!!! WOW! How many will there be, kids?!” By the time we were coming into Genoa traffic while following the confusing directions to our hotel the fun game had transitioned to, “What are we at now? 125? Crap! Was I supposed to turn there?!”
It was a very interesting and unique drive into an equally interesting and unique place. The city fits into a curved hillside, creating an amphitheater-like bowl of buildings which spills out to the city’s port. We drove into a long tunnel as we approached Genoa, popped out at the bottom of the bowl and then began driving in what felt like circles to make our way up into the town. Our trusty GPS navigator lady kept repeating, “Turn right, then turn right.”
Having only one night in Genoa, we dumped our bag at the hotel and started walking. The best words to describe Genoa are ornate, gritty and compact. We found meticulously carved stone buildings with braided columns and detailed craftsmanship sitting amid the traffic, crowds, signs, litter, and grime of a major city.
I also saw more mopeds than I’ve ever seen in my life! They weave through the stopped cars and swarm through large intersections like speedy little ants. I watched two very stylish women in cocktails dresses and stiletto heels climb onto a moped together and speed off into the traffic.
Turning off of the main streets led us into the narrow, crooked and dark passages of the city’s underbelly. These narrow walkways barely fit two people across in some places.
Many travel reviews of Genoa will knock it and say it’s not worth visiting. We’re very glad it was a stop on our Italian itinerary. It gave us a picture of urban, Italian life. We didn’t see tour groups moving in packs snapping photos. Locals were sitting next to a beautiful fountain or on the steps of an ornate church simply talking on their cell phones, reading a book or taking a nap. We were watching typical modern life in an ancient city, and it was definitely worth seeing.