After three days in Bastia, Corsica, we took a ferry back to the mainland at Savona, in Italy west of Genoa. Since then, we’ve been making our way south and east with a view to reaching Ancona on the Adriatic coast. It would have been more efficient all round to just ride along the coast from Nice to Savona, but there was a change of plan as outlined by Chris in the last post.
We spent some time examining the planned Corsica-Sardinia-Sicily route, and found one of the ferries between Corsica and Sardinia had stopped running for the winter. This gave us pause. We then found another service still ran several times per day, but the Sardinia-Sicily connection was only weekly during the winter season.
We also spent time communicating with family about the idea of gathering in Crete over Christmas. The island-hopping route to Greece did not fit into the time remaining before the Crete gathering, so for that to remain possible, we changed the route.
We took an overnight boat to Savona. In town, we asked a carabinieri in his dapper uniform whether he could please point us to a Vodaphone shop. Not only did he take the time to cheerfully lead us there, but he also pointed out a good option for coffee and “the best” focaccia wile waiting for the place to open. What a lovely welcome to Italy!
We cycled a short day to Genoa, buffeted sideways by strong winds as we rode. Flashing signs along the road warned motorists of “extreme weather.” Even more rain and wind was forecast, so we spent three nights and two days in Genoa.
The first day involved gathering our laundry into backpacks, and finding a lavanderia in the warren of narrow alleyways between tall buildings. Weighing our clothes, the woman told us it would cost quattordici euros, and would be ready at cinque del pomeriggio. I understood that! Perhaps some remnants of Italian remain in my old brain from a venture here almost forty years ago. We walked around the historic centre and beyond.
On our second day we went to see a collection of works by the Mexican artist couple Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, familiar to me from a project once done for a Spanish class. In the afternoon, we admired the facades and courtyards of the 16th to 18th century palazzos, the first example of urban planning in Europe.
2014/11/7-8: San Rocco de Camogli
An email to cousin Alison had luckily resulted in planning a visit to the house in San Rocco where we had spent an Easter holiday with her late mother, Ann, in 1993.
We braved the coastal road for a half day from Genoa, pushed our bikes along the narrow walkway leading to the houses originally built by seafaring families, and were welcomed by David, Alison’s husband. Alison arrived a little later by train from Paris. This visit brought back many good memories of Ann.
From the house, we hiked into the steep wooded peninsula near Portofino. Since it was a weekend, the trails were well used by well-equipped (excessively equipped?) hikers, and an organized group of Lycra-clad boys on their mountain bikes. There is a huge sport bike culture here, even more overwhelmingly male than in France. In towns, the odd woman sedately carries her shopping by bike. After a week in Italy, Chris recalls seeing a grand total of only two women on road bikes and none on mountain bikes.
In some sections of trail, wild boars – cinghiale – had been rooting, and at one point we heard them crashing in the woods. We’d been told there was an overpopulation problem near Bordeaux, and the same is true here. Hunters have introduced them for easy sport, then failed to keep the numbers under control. They’ve interbred with domestic pigs. They’re clever beasts and the issue reminds me of our problems with coyotes in the city of Vancouver and deer in parts of Victoria. If Alison and David don’t shut the garden gate, they get in and wreak havoc.
David and Chris spent time with maps to plan our next leg, and I got a glimpse of the community of San Rocco by tagging along with Alison. I also had a taste of a non-alcoholic aperitif called cordino, which I look forward to introducing Chris to before we leave Italy.