Tuesday in Genoa ~ Part 2 of 2
Late-afternoon hit and I jumped on a small yellow rickety bus to a nearby former fishing village called Boccadasse. Only a 30 minutes away, the exceptionally charming village has a small enclosed bay and a rocky shore, being the perfect spot to have a quiet moment amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a small place to explore, great for an hour or two max for those on the go. There’s an amazing view on a sort of “balcony” next to a church that overlooks the sea and village just at its edge, located at the end main promenade in the area and where you’ll likely come from when getting the bus from Genoa. When you take the rocky main path down, you can walk up and down paths around the surrounding tiny coloured houses or just lay on the beach and enjoy the sound of the waves licking the rocks.
Impatient to wait for the sunset, having initially thought to see it at Boccadasse but having arrived way too early, I rushed back to Spinata Castelleto – was a much better choice to see a stunning sunset view of the city. Upon arrival, a guitarist sat nearby on a bench amidst other tourists clearly with the same idea as me, creating a romantic melodic atmosphere to accompany the chilly sea breeze, rich dusk sky and twinkling lights. It was tranquil, just looking down below, onto the harbour and just beyond, boats floating in and out of the port, the water stretching out into the sea that shimmered with the falling sunlight.
I was starved. Impatient once more too see the night engulf the city entirely, I headed to Cavour 21, a restaurant recommended by those working at my hostel and for sure I was in for a treat. A bit out of the way of the obvious row of restaurants along the marina, this is the place for great value home cooked food overflowing with locals.
Octopus with potatoes.
Italians may be renown for their pasta and pizza, but beware of dodgy dishes; although thought of as simple plates, this is where restaurants can take tourists for a ride. I recommend doing your homework and finding a good ristorante or trattoria that has fresh pasta (or at least a decent dried one) – a trattoria is an Italian eating establishment less formal than your ristorante. After a highly disappointing first Spaghetti Frutti di Mare (spaghetti with seafood) in my first night Genoa, I asked around (particularly in my hostel) to make sure my next pasta venture was the best I could get. As I would have it, I had succeeded, having the most fantastic Spaghetti Frutti di Mare (with a tomato-based sauce, mussels, shrimp and calamari – variety is key) and a delightful pasta called Trofie at Cavour 21; Trofie al Pesto is a dish common in the Liguria region of Italy, the pasta being mixed with chunks of potato (strange, I know) and a rich basil pesto. A good bowl of pasta doesn’t have to be expensive if you’re in the right place – in fact the worse bowls I had were the ones over twelve euros. In Cavour 21 most pasta dishes were only around six or seven euros – and don’t forget to try one of the homemade cakes or pies (I recommend a couple of plates of the delectable tiramisu). Most importantly… if you’re surrounded by tourists in a restaurant: run. If you can’t read the menu (and it’s all in Italian): you’re in the right place.
Even if you’re not visiting Cavour 21, under no circumstance must you forget to try Pesto alla Genovese – it’s all in the name; pesto was born in Genoa, so obviously one must try the pesto. If you don’t know, pesto is a kind of paste made from fresh basil leaves, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and lots of parmesan cheese. You can find it on focaccia, pizza, pasta and more, and it’s not to be missed if visiting the city.
Filled to the brim with carbs, I waddled back to my hostel to fall into a food coma, saying goodbye to the magical city on the way as the next day I was to make my way to the next destination on the list: Cinque Terre.