Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Letter From Genoa

My flight from Eugene to Genoa was, in a word, brutal. The plane was an hour late coming into San Francisco. The pilot then made good time to Munich, but after arriving, we were obliged to wait at the gate for a thunderstorm, which also delayed the plane en route from Bucharest for my flight to Genoa, to subside.

Finally, just before midnight local time, we left Munich and everybody seemed to be in a hurry to get to Genoa, including the pilots and flight attendants. I thought, “calm down, people; let’s get there safely.” It was my fastest flight ever from Munich to Genoa: just over 45 minutes. I was relieved when we landed.

Thanks to the magic of wi-fi, I was able to contact my hosts at the Hotel Colombo, the Sterlocchis, to inform them I would be late. “No problem,” replied Libero Sterlocchi, “just ring the bell outside.” After a short taxi ride, I arrived at my hotel, tired but grateful.  Total time in the air or airports: 29 hours (excluding time change).

After a brief day of rest, it was off to Isolana to visit my Italian cousins. My cab driver and interpreter extraordinaire, Andrea Giovanelli, picked me up from the Hotel Colombo promptly at the pre-determined time and we were off into the hill country of Liguria, where the Sanguinetis received us graciously.

The next morning, I met a fellow from Rotterdam at breakfast who spoke English well; we engaged in lively, animated conversation about many subjects, including American politics. He asked for my impression of Donald Trump. I rolled my eyes, saying, “if Trump is elected, it will be one of the seven signs of the apocalypse.”

Quite the engaging conversationalist (he was a lawyer by training and trade), I dubbed him “The Wandering Dutchman” because of his vast experience as a world traveler. “What will you do here?” he asked. I responded that I was keen to take the boat tour of Cinque Terre. “Looking for some company?” he queried. “Yes,” I replied.

Next day, we embarked for Cinque Terre, the five seaside towns on the Riviera Di Levante. A national park, the Cinque Terre include the villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Quite literally wedged into steep hillsides, villagers tend olive gardens and grow basil, garlic and pine nuts for pesto.

August is not the best time to visit; the towns are choked with tourists, plus the air is hot and humid. After all, this is the holiday season in Italy. But the boat cruise was delightful, nonetheless, and the cool breeze on the trip back provided a welcome respite from the heat. Tutto va bene (loose translation: “it’s all good”).

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