We were excited to be able to have a trip back to our beloved Italy in 2007. Our '06 trip was fast-paced so this year, we decided we wanted to kick back a bit and take-in the sites and sounds.
But where to go? There were so many places yet unseen like Sicily, the "heart" of Amalfi, Milan, Venice and more. But after my friend Rhonda gave extreme props to a place we had never heard of called "Cinque Terre," we decided to venture into the Liguria region.
We set our itinerary and would start off in Genoa because it's a large city with an international airport. From Genoa, we'd train it to Cinque Terre for a relaxing few days' stay, then back up the coast to Portofino, then we'd "flip" over the innermost top of the boot of Italy to experience France, by staying in Nice. Shazam!
When In Genoa
Genoa is a large sea-side city that spans way into the hills. We didn't completely "bond" with the place as it was a little on the industrial side and a bit too big for us. The part of town we stayed in was scarce on the eating and watering holes and most of our experience of the city was from foot.
The favorite thing we did while in Genoa was to embark on an impromptu day trip on a 1920s narrow-gauge train out into the surrounding country (a.k.a. the hinterland) on the Genoa-Casella train. The views from the graffiti covered train were amazing. The first part of our journey sported views of the sea then we crept upward into Apennine ridges, crags and ditches.
The ride ended in the small village of Casella. The air smelled fresh. There were flowers, chirping birds, greenery and lots of sunshine. At one point I thought Cinderella would pop-out from around the corner, but not that day.
We walked Casella's streets with no agenda other than ingesting the views, which were awesome. There were local folk hanging out in the small piazza and few tourists. It was very peaceful. After some gelato in the piazza, we headed back to a small bar adjacent to the train platform and enjoyed a cold beer served by a local bartender (a "totally Italian" woman).
Train Tips: Allow an hour each-way for the train ride and give yourself at least two hours in Casella for a walk-a-bout. Also, when you're in the train, make sure you sit by the windows on the right side of the train, which will be facing "out" away from the station; unknowingly, we grabbed a seat on the left and missed out on some of the incredible sea views as we departed Genoa. The train does a quirky reverse turn before entering Casella and on the way back, we were outsmarted again and sat on the "wrong" side for the views. Regardless, it was one fine day.
Acquario di Genova.
Genoa's Aquarium is hard to miss; it sits sea-side, is Italy's largest and therefore draws tourists both near and far. This is a good place to escape the sun (if it's hot) and if you have kids, they will have a good time there - especially if the meet the Aquarium's mascot "Splaffy!"
There's also a biosphere adjacent to the main building that had tropical plants and hummingbirds that were flying about.
Hotel Savoia Genova
Via Aresenale Di Terra, 1
Tel +39 101 261641
Hotel Savoia was literally a two-minute walk from Genoa's main train station (P. Principe). A main bus terminal was located in front of the train station, so staying in Hotel Savoia will put you at the gateway to transportation options.
Hotel Savoia didn't have sea views but there was a Farmacia ("Pharmacy") next door, which was convenient. The hotel was very clean and it featured a vintage elevator with a sliding door that you opened-up yourself to enter. It was very memorable.
for the love of :