a random holiday in the middle of the week calls for a spontaneous road trip. having just come back from a week in crete, i think we were all still in holiday mode and were yearning for more time in the sun and relaxing on the beach. my mum had recently sent me a nytimes article about 36 hours in genoa, so i forwarded it to asher who had spent a week there working at the Slow Fish event and shucking a couple thousand oysters and said it was a great day-destination. we woke up on tuesday with a text from him saying he was packing his toothbrush and ready to leave after class. the sun was shining and before we knew it, we were piling into his car, windows down, music playing loudly, and i was as happy and giddy as could be. driving through the flat emilia romagna countryside, we left behind the farm smells of cow, manure, and freshly cut hay, passed the warm aroma of freshly baked bread as we passed by the ginormous barilla factory and then breathed in the sweet smell of roses as we drove through tunnels and tunnels that burrowed and penetrated deep into the tuscan mountains. as we turned off the exit towards the sea and into the city, i instantly fell in love.
mmmm the architecture. every building was impressively beautiful, with expressive attention to detail. we commented that it could almost like spain - a bit moorish. racking my brain for past knowledge from my art history minor, i would love to study the architecture here.
the view from our hostel. barges heading to portsmouth?
as we walked around the city, i lagged behind, taking an embarrassing amount of photos as i was encapsulated within the city: every turn had something new to offer and another magnificent building. we walked down to porto antico where we passed the aquarium - largest in italy and second largest in europe - as well as a replica of christopher columbus' ship which looked like it sailed into the port straight from disney world.
after necessary tourist visits to the piazza and christopher columbus' house, we stopped for a refreshing apperativo before our much anticipated destination: asher's acclaimed best pizza in italy. the street outside the little door was packed with young pizza and inside were more hipsters sitting at high tops in front of a little counter that separated the restaurant from the kitchen. the hand written menu listed the pizza toppings, which we chose the genovese speciality - with pesto - and one with salsiccia. we waited and waited as the owner brought out two pizzas at a time. the pizzas, when they finally arrived around the corner, were perfect and delicious. thin and soft dough, not too much crust, not too greasy or cheesey and definitely no need for hot pepper flakes or a side of ranch to dip in!
walking around the city at night, it felt a little dodgy. i didn't feel unsafe though. young people home for the holiday socialized in groups in the piazzas, the courtyards and the streets. graffiti covered the buildings. the tiny alleys looked enigmatic, teasingly daring and dark. but for us, it was banana tsunami time - dancing on the water front. it was so much fun.
genoa is the dirtiest beautiful city.
the next day, we headed for the sea. we drove out of genova and along the seacoast, even more beautiful. an even more embarrassing amount of pictures until my battery exhaustedly ran out. the drive was breathtaking, i wanted to move into every house, i wanted to be on one of the sailboats in sparkling sea - yes, it really sparkles - i wanted to find a summer job here, i wanted to skip class for the rest of the week and stay here. i couldn't help but smile.
we drove to the little town of zoagli where we sat in the sun on the rocks as the rough ocean water splashed around us and had lunch on the beach, eating lots of seafood - mussels and marinated octopus to start then spaghetti with clams, linguine with shrimp and zucchini, fish of the day and frito misto. and a local white wine. it was surprisingly delicious - not a typical touristy high-priced low-quality seafood restaurant on the beach.
alas, we had to return to colorno, to our so-called-semi-reality of life. once again, we passed through the tunnels under the tuscan mountains that were scattered with enchanting little villages nestled within - the yellow, orange, and red hues of the houses spotting the surrounding bushy green trees. i loved the thought of exploring them, the thought of the possibility of recreating life there - so idyllic, so serene, and so simple. but we drove on. we talked about future trips - rafting down rivers, to rome, vacationing on yachts, snowboarding after the program, of already-anticipated class reunions - we would need 3 more lives to do everything we want to. it will be weird to spend every day with these friends, and then once again, be scattered across the globe in an unknown future.
eventually the mountains disappeared and we once again commented on the sweet smell of the flowers, inhaled the hunger-enducing aromas exuding from the barilla factory and the pungent cowy-farm smell welcomed us back into emilia romagna. an instant indication that we were home again.