Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Return To The Motherland

After more than six months of planning, we departed for Italy, the homeland of my grandparents on my mother’s side, the Cargnis and the Bricchettos, on Wednesday, August 27. This time, son Jory (below) -- who has studied Italian as part of his undergraduate coursework at the University of Oregon -- joined me for a tour d’Italia.

As in 2010, we utilized Genoa as our base for adventure, staying at the Hotel Cristoforo Colombo, a delightful family-owned facility in the city’s old town. Located next to the twin towers known as the Porta Soprana and adjacent to the small building identified as the birthplace of the Genovese explorer (above), our hotel was also just blocks from the historic port packed with locals and tourists alike.

Genoa, with more than 600,000 residents, is the regional capital of the province of Liguria. Shaped like a croissant (I prefer mine filled with chocolate or lemon), the province stretches from the French border to Tuscany along the Mediterranean Sea. Liguria, with much the same features as the adjoining French Riviera, is less refined than its neighbor to the west, but more lively and laid back.

After a the 10-hour flight from Salt Lake City, we spent a few hours checking email and playing “guess which gate” at the Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. Airline officials would post gate numbers to various cities a mere 10 minutes before final boarding call, so you had to pay close attention. One fellow standing next to us in line wasn’t so lucky and missed his flight. He was understandably miffed.

Arriving in Genoa at about 5:30 p.m. local time, we packed our gear into our hotel room, checked out the Piazza de Ferrari (above, the primary "town square") and adjourned to the Café di Barbarossa, a nearby watering hole, for drinks and “aperitivi" -- a term defined by Italians as a “before-meal drink and light snack.”

On the contrary, aperitivi is more like dinner masquerading as a casual drink during cocktail hour. A crafty diner can milk the buffet offerings (antipasti, cold cuts, cheese, olives and finger sandwiches, to name just a few) for a single drink, though I typically have more than one beverage, particularly after spending time in a Paris airport.

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