I took the train on December 13, 2012 from Assisi, up North to Genoa, to meet up with my friend Vincenzo.
It was great to see Vincenzo. It had been 4 years since Larry and I had met up with him in Rome. Vincenzo is a native Genovese but had worked with my friend Larry at Mt. Sinai in New York for a brief stint, and he'd decided to meet up with us in Rome, that fall.
It was great to see him again, and after a long time traveling alone, it was a relief to stay with someone in their home, hand over the reigns a bit, and not have to be thinking and planning ahead for every little thing. Plus we spend the whole week cracking up laughing.
I told him that the app on my iPhone was telling me it might snow in Genoa, the next day.
"No, not in December. It's rare that it snows, and it would be in January or February."
I look out the window the next morning and said, "What's that white stuff? It looks suspiciously like snow!"
I had tried to tell Vincenzo, that when I am in Italy, I bring crazy weather with me. It wasn't supposed to snow in Assisi either, but it did there too. Well, flurries, at least.
I told him, "I'm telling you, I'm Mr. Snow Miser!"
Of course, being Italian, he had no idea what I meant.
"There are these funny Christmas shows from the 1970s, they play every year in the U.S., and there's this character Snow Miser … whatever he touched turned to snow …"
He gave me a blank stare.
So, I did what I do now, when I don't know how to describe something.
I find it on YouTube. (Heat Miser is on this video too. ;)
There was a mix of snow and ice on the trees ...
Every morning he made coffee with this, so when I got home, I went on Amazon and ordered one immediately! Yummy but very strong. This is where the milk frother comes in.
I fell in love with his red chandelier. Isn't it fabulous?
He knew I was coming so he put up a few decorations. Sweet huh?
This, below, is his entryway floor. I am showing you, because these floors are very typical for Genoa.
Vince had to work that day, so I cabbed it to Palazzo Ducale. I did some research ahead and there were two exhibitions going on. A huge Mirò retrospective and a large installation of Steve McCurry photographs.
Piazza De Ferrari
Before becoming an art and cultural center, it was once the home of the Doges of Genoa.
The original sections of the Palace were built from 1251- 1275, and the Tower of the People was completed in 1539. The palace was under restoration in the late 16th century, and in the mid 17th century, and during the Baroque period, it was frescoed by Giovanni Battista Carlone and Domenico Fiasella. In 1777, there was a fire and there were parts that were rebuilt in the Neoclassical style. Got all that?
Looking out of Palazzo Ducale to Piazza De Ferrari ...
There was a good size cafe, so I had a big plate of seafood pasta sustenance, and headed into Mirò.
I try to apply colors
that shape poems,
that shape music.
~ Joan Mirò
The Mirò video I found, below, was made for the exhibition, but is in Italian. At least you can see the galleries. It was a beautiful and quite extensive. It definitely gave me a new appreciation for Mirò's work, seeing it in person … and so much of it!
It's a little long so you can just watch the beginning of it, unless of course you speak Italian. Then, you can have at it.
I feel the need of attaining the maximum of intensity
with the minimum of means.
It is this which has led me to give my painting
a character of even greater bareness.
You actually walk outside, as I recall, to get into the gallery where the Steve McCurry exhibition was held. Steve McCurry, if you are unfamiliar, is a photographer who has taken numerous photos (understatement) for National Geographic. He also did their famous magazine cover of the "Afghan Girl."
View of Palazzo Ducale, from Piazza Matteotti.
Below, is an interview with Mr. McCurry, (In English!!) with shots of the rooms where the photography was hung, at the Palazzo Ducale. It was really interesting how creative they were in hanging the show!
The first room, with the large portraits, was my favorite. They hung the portraits on a series black scrims, that were a bit transparent so you could see through to the next line of portraits. Hard to describe! You'll see it in the video around 1:37 - 3:20, and then after 6 or so minutes.
I look for the unguarded moment,
the essential soul peeking out,
experience etched on a person's face.
My life is shaped by the urgent need
to wander and observe,
and my camera is my passport.
The photograph is an undeniable powerful medium.
Free from the constraints of language,
and harnessing the unique qualities
of a single moment frozen in time.
It was getting dark and I decided to walk and enjoy the lights outside Palazzo Ducale ...
I walked up the main street that runs into the piazza. You see below the striped architecture, very typical of Genova, as well as the pointed arches.
Below those arches are a bunch of shops! My favorite socks are from there! Coziest socks ever, by the way.
There was still a bit of snow on the ground and I figured Vincenzo would still be at worked so I just kept walking and taking photos!
I love Christmas lights in Italy … each street and neighborhood seem to have a different theme of lights ...
At this point, the wind had really picked up and my boots were pretty much soaked through, so I caught a cab right here and headed back to Vincenzo's place.
Back at Vincenzo's we made dinner decisions and since they don't make reservations there until about 9:30pm, I ate more cheese in one sitting than I do in a month here … just to tide me over.
The cheese on the left was truffle cheese I brought from Umbria. The one on top was goat ricotta. Yes, goat. And, oh my good gravy, it was one of the best things ever. Light- like a cloud.
Then on the right, primo sale (translates to 'salt cheese' but not really very salty.) You could just eat it, all day long. Along with this, we had meats and red wine.
Crazy thing? My stomach was just fine!
Off to dinner … we happened to walk past Columbus' house. Or at least that's what the guidebook says.
Into the little, groovy neighborhood where we had dinner ...
Ah yes, one of the best meals … of my life.
I'm pretty sure I was the only non-Italian in the place. And there was a table full of the hottest Italian men you've ever seen, which unfortunately I didn't get a picture of. Sorry! Anyway, back to the food ...
The wine was insane, by the way. Dolcetto di Diano D'Alba. So delicious. Helps to have an Italian, with good taste, ordering.
I am cracking up that I found a video on YouTube of the restaurant. In Italian, of course, but it shows the restaurant (which looked very different at night!) as well as shots of the neighborhood. ;)
OK, here it is.
Heaven on a plate.
Homemade pasta … with shaved truffles.
I told Vincenzo I would be fantasizing about that pasta, torturing myself in years to come. So far, so true. After that, I had an amazing steak with pepper sauce. Someday, I will go back for that pasta. I will. And, the steak.
Thank you Vincenzo!!!!!!
This cool thing, below, was painted on a metal door across from the restaurant. Cool, right?
Well, that was my first full day in Genova. More to come, and some Felliniesque moments, as well!
For Steve McCurry's Blog (my all time favorite photography blog) click HERE.
For a more extensive history of the Palazzo Ducale, (very interesting, lots of history) click here.
For a virtual tour, click here.
For information and upcoming exhibitions, click here.
(Currently there is a Edvard Munch exhibition, and photo exhibition of Robert Doisneau)
You can look at a picture for a week
and never think of it again.
You can look at a picture for a second
and think of it for all your life.