The Ostello Santa Maria di Castello had no single rooms. I shared a large dormitory room with Daniel, who had come from Argentina to trace his great-grandfather’s roots.
Daniel’s phone woke me up five times in the night, and there is no breakfast in the Ostello. So I’m not feeling sociable when I set off.
But breakfast is soon sorted, and I’m set south, for Genova. It’s going to be fairly flat, except for the Apennine hills just before the city and the sea.
It’s cloudy, but very warm. It’s definitely going to rain. When it comes, the rain is not unwelcome. Last night the Ostello was so hot I had to soak my night clothes and wear them wet, just to keep from overheating. The rain will have the same effect.
It was a spectacular thunderstorm, and I was able to start climbing the hills wearing my own cooler. These are nice wooded hills, with meandering and varied roads. So the climb isn’t as unrelenting as the carefully engineered Alpine roads.
The wooded view from the top is pure Italian – at least it would be with a bit more sunshine. Put on a dry shirt for the descent, and let the wet one flap itself dry strapped to the cello case.
Genova, or Genoa, is a fine city, with a big port. I’m cycling around the port, shouting at the many unreconstructed Italian drivers, crossing junctions with incomprehensible markings, wondering if Genovan traffic lights perform any function, when I nearly fall off the bike at the sight of a truly magnificent and fully fitted 16th century galleon.
It looks as though it’s just arrived in the port, every one of its many guns pointing out through open portholes, ready for action.
It’s the first properly and completely touristical thing I’ve done. I can’t resist spending 6 euros to board and inspect. And it really is fabulous. Except that it’s a fake.
It’s full-sized, and historically accurate, and it can sail the high seas. But it was made in 1985, for a film. The guns are plastic. But it’s as close to the real thing as we’ll ever get – 6 euros well spent.
Then into the old city, where the bike has to be wheeled, to look for somewhere to play. The Via San Lorenzo, by the cathedral, just down the way from a bored looking police outpost, looks good.
As soon as I set up though the gentlemen’s outfitter across the way puts on its own music, very loud – and perhaps not completely conducive to selling smart suits (but what do I know?)
That’s perhaps a sign to pack up, and go and find Marco and Norma, who live somewhere up in the hills behind. The place, Marco warned me, is hard to find, and “has many steps”.
Google maps can’t find the house. Every route it tries ends up at the foot of a great flight of stairs. Eventually I leave the bike and go on foot. Yes, says Marco, there is an easier way, but it still invovles about 200 steps. You take the luggage; I’ll carry the bike.
Playing Libre in their beautiful house, surveying the tightly packed city below, after a fine dinner, in good company, and with a little sea breeze – what a perfect way to end the day.