Genova, Liguria, Italy
After 5 weeks in France and with winter coming in, the prospect of driving up the shadow of the Alps was losing its lustre. And given that at Menton we are at the far SE of the country, we would need to retrace our drive for more than a day to get back on track for a launch north to Strasburg.
On the other hand going north east thru Italy and Switzerland would save us more than a day driving and the east is looking decidedly warmer. Genova, Como, and then thru Switzerland to Mulhouse and on to Strasburg.
Our intelligence for Genova is a bit mixed. It is
in Italy, but some folks think it is a bit of a surprise package. The drive is only a couple of hours up from Menton on the French side, but the day has not started well. The plan to drive up the coast road is a total fiasco. After an hour we have averaged about 30 kms/hr. The coastal congestion is diabolical. The chaos in the coastal towns is unbelievable. Not much to see here so we head up to the autostrada.
Certainly the view from the elevated autostrada is spectacular. The coastline is spectacular, probably even more so than the amazing Cote d’Azur. The two lane highway which is a bit on the narrow side, is a bit hairy at times, with huge trucks lumbering along blocking one and a bit more lanes, whilst big black Audis thunder by at 50 kms over the speed limit.
And the rain is coming in. The inner city road map of Genova does not look much fun either, talk about spaghetti junction. All very prophetic and not looking good.
But, hey what does prophetic have to do with things? Genova is quite a surprise packet. The city with a population of more than 600,000 has the largest medieval city centre of any major European city and is still one of the largest and busy ports in Europe. The traffic chaos has turned out to be a limp squid. And our hotel is quite handy to the downtown and other infrastructure.
The first surprise was the local shopping centre near the wharf. Not the greatest place for getting ones tucker, but amazingly this little place IS better than anything we have seen in France, even the bigger cities. No fois gras, but just about every other category of good food is better supplied and of a higher quality. Looking good.
Walking around from the port the dynamics of the waterfront are strongly contrasted with the verge of marvellous medieval buildings. The nice thing about this city is that it is NOT another medieval shopping mall. There are a lot of locals … they live here and most of the facilities cater to their everyday needs. Which makes the place so much more authentic. Great shopping, plenty of good value local eateries and lots of old buildings, museums and charming distractions.