We Took Some Dancing Lessons From God

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Kurt Vonnegut says that unusual travel suggestions are

Dancing Lessons from God

So, of course, we could not decline the offer of travelling to Genoa, even if this meant that we had to change our carefully laid out travel plans at the shortest of short notices.

"Genoa - statue of Christopher Columbus"

The story is this: we had been planning to get some hiking done in the South of France for some time, but then the Spanish budget airline Vueling and award winning Indie internet radio ScannerFM invited us to join a bloggers do in Barcelona, cutting down our trip by half.

"Cattedrale di San Lorenzo aka Il Duomo"

“Don’t worry,” they told us, “we can fly you in from almost anywhere.”  And it is true: the Vueling network of routes is quite comprehensive indeed. Nice would have been a great option – the only problem was that this  route would become fully operational only in the spring of 2012, and for the time being, Genoa was our best option.

"shopping Alley in Genoa"

Which is how what was conceived as a trip from Paris to the south of France became a mad “if-it’s-Thursday-it-must-be-Italy” dash through three European countries.

We did not regret our sojourn to the other side of the Riviera. On the contrary. Genoa is a lovely place, worthwhile almost any detour, and if you haven’t been, you should definitely include it in your itinerary for the next time you are visiting the Mediterranean.

"Typical alley street in Genoa"

We had been there once before, actually, quite a long time ago, in what must have been an even more hurried affair, because I barely recognized anything of the place.

"Pallazzo in Nuova Strada Genoa"

I only remembered two things about our first trip to Genoa: that we had bought some kind of Easter cake there and that our hotel was inhabited by the cast of Treasure Island. In the evenings, you could hear the “step-toc-step-toc-step-toc” of Long John Silver approaching on the corridor. (Okay, I exaggerate, but only slightly.)

"Nuova Strada Genoa"

The greatest sight of Genoa – and worth the trip alone – is the Strada Nuova, now called Via Garibaldi, offering you a parade of Baroque castles which is probably unique in the world. It is in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

"Inside the Ducal Palace"

They say that this was the birthplace of urban architecture – where all buildings relate to each other and where every project was completed in the awareness that the total would, eventually, be something more than the sum of its parts.

"another palazzo nuova strada"

But there is more to Genoa.

"Remains of a medieval cloister in Genoa beyond Porta Soprana"

"Porta Soprana in Genoa"

"Inside the Il Duomo (Cathedral) in Genoa"

"Gucci boutique in Genoa"

One last word about the city: we stayed in a lovely place called Hotel Cairoli (Art in the City), lovingly decorated with modern art (some of it original, some of it copied from great modernist masterpieces), spotlessly clean and centrally located. Reasonably priced, too. (We paid EUR 75 for a double including basic breakfast. Although it must be said that this was the low season.) Plus they make you feel really, really welcome. So if you are planning to travel to Genova for more than a quick dash: do not go anywhere else. (And no: they did not give us a special discount and are not even aware that we are writing this.)

And we enjoyed our dancing lessons from God!

Okay, I know: there was not much real hiking going on today. But this will change over the next few posts, I promise.

20 comments to We Took Some Dancing Lessons From God

  • The first time we visited Genoa, we spent only a day and liked it somehow. But we discovered more of it on our recent visit and would definitely recommend it to everyone.

  • I recently spent a few days in Genova and found the city awesome. Such a pity it’s so rarely included in an itinerary in Italy, as it is well worth a visit.

  • Thanks for dropping by, Christine. Yes, our city tour around Genova felt like a hike alright.

  • Never really thought of Genova but I realize the architecture is very guilded and ornate. Quite splendid, really.

    And I consider trekking through the city a bit of a hike!

  • It was indeed fun, but frankly speaking, exhausting, Leigh. We had to pack in as much in one day as we would otherwise do. We’re both down with a bad cold now.

  • Andrew Graeme Gould

    Some lovely architecture in this series!

  • You sometimes have the best time when plans go astray and an unexpected invitation appears out of nowhere. Sounds like you had a great trip and you sure got some nice photos out of it.

  • Jeremy, we just walked uphill to Montjuic in Barcelona the other day and I tell you, it could easily count as a hike.

  • Jeremy Branham

    I know this wasn’t hiking but some of my best exercise comes from just walking around cities and exploring. While this isn’t the outdoors, exploring (especially in the offseason) can be leisurely, fun, and sometimes just as good as a hike.

  • It’s turned out more hectic but really fun.

  • Nina, now that we have no school-age kid, we always travel off-peak. It is certainly more fun, with hotels and air/train fares a lot cheaper.

  • Andrew, what you can see of Genoa from the train do not do this city any justice at all. A visit is really called for.

  • Gray, if it’s architecture you like, surely you’ve been to Barcelona?

  • Well, that change of plans certainly turned out well. I’d love to walk down those alley street and up the stairs in your photos. Beautiful pics.

  • The low season is my favorite time of year to travel – your photos show the reason why – fewer crowds.
    I didn’t know that Genoa is the birthplace of urban architecture – it is certainly visually stunning. I love the idea that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
    Very much enjoyed the city tour!

  • Ah, you are playing to my weakness–architecture! It’s so pretty!

  • Love the Porta and all the arches. I’ve been through Genoa on the train. It is so close to Cinque Terre that with my parents who have never been to Italy it was not much of a stop. I do want to see it, and really only 6 hours on the train from here, so doable even on a long weekend.

    Thanks for sharing the pictures.

  • Yes, they are, Rashmi. And there are more of that to see in Genoa.

  • The buildings are neat!I love the pictures.

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