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Paris to Rome – Day 4

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This is a retrospective account in diary form of a trip I took in 2013, based on memory and my notes from the time. Continued from Paris to Rome – Day 3.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

I stayed till late in the restaurant, almost not wanting to leave. It was quite small, but had great lighting and a small shelf of travel books opposite me. A group of people were sitting at a nearby table and chatting merrily–it looked like they knew the staff in the restaurant quite well. Ah, these locals. 🙂 Eventually, I left just after 10pm and strolled downhill amongst the narrow streets, and eventually reached the marina. There were lots of people out and about now, and it was really lively.

I popped back home to drop off my new bag and rest a bit–but not too long! Shorn of my day’s baggage, I went out again to the Porto Antico to sample the nightlife. This is the great thing about staying at a convenient spot where it’s easy to just go in and out whenever you want. There was a large event on in the piazza–a kind of North African cultural festival from which the sound of loud music was coming. Now, I’m not really into that sort of thing but decided to drop by later and check it out. I always have such trouble deciding which bar to go into! Some of them seemed empty or had only a few people in it who seemed to also know the barman (I find those so annoying).

I saw a sign for a shopping centre of some kind, and decided to see if I could find it. I walked and walked, but to no avail. Yet another one of those signs in Italy that seem to lead to nowhere. I stopped off for a late night snack at one of those bar/cafes that seem to serve a mix of alcoholic drinks, coffee, ice cream, and pastries. I don’t think I’ve ever been somewhere in Italy where they just serve alcohol, like a proper bar. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the difference, but somehow I have trouble associating ice cream with nightlife. I noticed groups of young people walking around eating gelato in the piazza–so amusing!

I had thought of staying up till the wee hours, but eventually decided to go home again and get some proper sleep.

This morning, I decided to go shopping at a supermarket and then do a spot of cooking later on. I really like supermarkets in Italy, what with their aisles full of endless varieties of pasta, bread, biscuits and pastries, not to mention all the cooked and raw meats. Oh, and I can’t wait to buy a pack of Kinder milk bars (fette al latte)! I used to love those when I lived in Florence as a child, and can’t wait to try some again!

As I passed a marble statue of Christopher Columbus, I realised that the great explorer had in fact come from Genoa, before entering the service of the Spanish crown. This city had once been a great maritime power, a rival to Venice. In fact, on the standard of the Italian navy, there are four coats of arms–one for each of the four original Italian maritime republics of Venice, Genoa, Pisa and Amalfi. By the way, I’ve noticed the St George’s Cross flying from municipal buildings–at first I wondered why the Genoese are using the English flag (!), but I suppose it’s not impossible that St George is also the patron saint of Genoa. I’ll have to look this up…

I found the location of the supermarket on the map, and it was conveniently not far from the famous Genoa lighthouse, La Lanterna. Starting off on the walk in the bright sunshine, it took ages to find this place. I ended up in a very industrial area, though I could see the old lighthouse jutting out in the distance. Funny how there tend to be so few tall buildings in Italy. What’s wrong with a garish glass building or two?! 🙂 Eventually, I found the COOP hypermarket (ipermercato–I love this word), not far from the lighthouse. The lighthouse itself could be reached by going up this long, winding metal bridge–it took an absolute age to walk up it. The view wasn’t all that spectacular either–I was basically looking across at the docks, where cargo was being shifted.

Affixed at the bottom of the lighthouse was a memorial to British soldiers who has died in June 1945 trying to defuse sea mines laid by German forces in Genoa’s harbour. I always find it interesting learning about British-Italian connections, and this one really made me reflect. Even very recently, we have had British forces dying trying to defuse explosives in a foreign land. Duty calls, I suppose. The seriousness of the memorial aside, it was a nice challenge trying to make sense of the date in Roman numerals.

I took the endless walk back to the supermarket, and went in to do some shopping. While at the milk aisle, I was asked by a German (I think?) man in English if I could recommend what type of milk to buy–yes seriously, or at least that’s what I understood! Anyway, I got a bit carried away with filling up the trolley, almost forgetting I had to drag everything back to the apartment!

I ended up with two heavy plastic blags (I had to buy those special thick ones), which I then had to carry in the heat all the way to the nearest tube (sorry, metro!) station. Luckily, there was really good air conditioning in there and I cooled down pretty quickly. Why can’t we have this in London? It’s also convenient that there is a metro stop at the marina, which means I didn’t have far to walk to get back home. Hey, it’s such fun to call it ‘home’, rather than ‘the hotel’!

After dropping off the shopping, I headed out again and had a casual walk around the city centre through the late afternoon, visiting Piazza De Ferrari, Corso Italia, Piazza Dante, and Piazza delle Erbe. Back home, the chatty guy was in the kitchen, so I had to wait for him to finish with it before I had my turn. Fortunately, I wasn’t disturbed and managed to cook my pasta dish. I took my plate back to my room and sat down to eat at the little desk. After coffee, I’ll head out again for a final night in Genoa. My flight to Rome is at 10am tomorrow.

Musn’t stay up too late!

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