In transito: Genova

27 May
27 May 2016. In transito means passing through, and that is what we did in Genova (Genoa to Americans, the birthplace of Christopher Columbus). We made a one-night stop on our way to the French Riviera. As we are traveling by train (as usual), breaking the trip from Roma to Antibes, France, had some appeal.
Fritto misto chock full of fried anchovies.

Fritto misto chock full of fried anchovies.

We are very fond of the food in this part of Italy, the region of Liguria, having visited the famous and famously overcrowded Cinque Terre four times, but we had never stopped much outside the five lands. Genova seems to be a city few Americans visit. While old Chris Columbo was born here, there are no “must see” sights to draw the tourist.
What we found, surprised us and we passed an incredibly pleasant half day.
The hotel was near the port, only a few minutes walk from the Aquarium of Genoa. The 20-minute walk from the train station was fine, although the last 50 meters was through an area of “working girls” even at 13:00 on a weekday. But that was the only seediness we encountered. It is an old city, with tiny alleys and ancient palazzi, and while it resembled its much rougher cousin to the south, Napoli, it was far less chaotic.
Cavour 21 - Pesto World Champ!

Cavour 21 – Pesto World Champ!

Le Nuvole Residenza d’Epoca is a gem. Created from a centuries-old palazzo that had been abandoned for decades, today it is a charming blend of old and modern, employing green building practices and old-fashioned customer service at an amazing price. 
Hotel staff led us to two fabulous restaurant experiences and the aquarium, the largest in Italy, is one of the best we’ve seen anywhere.
Trofie Pesto at Cavour 21.Yum!

Trofie Pesto at Cavour 21.Yum!

The advice to go to Cavour 21 for lunch was spot-on. We would NEVER have chosen this place on our own. In fact,  we would never have seen it. But a short walk from the hotel, we happened upon a happy crowd on an elevated sidewalk waiting for a chance to eat here. Mamma Mia! Che stupendo! We waited 25 minutes to get in, ate in about 40 minutes, and walked out for €21.00 which included a half-liter of wine. The owner is a gent who enjoys his work and the beautiful food he brings to the table. Cavour 21 won the Pesto World Championship in 2014. As you can imagine, the pesto is mighty tasty. Pesto, thin green beans, and chunks of potato are mixed into perfectly al dente trofie pasta. A shared dish of pesto, tasty seafood fritto misto with lots of acciughe, and a healthy serving of bietola (boiled beet greens and yes, they are delicious) made for a substantial lunch even though we shared everything.
A customer contribution at Cavour 21. The walls are lined with customers' sketches.

A customer contribution at Cavour 21. The walls are lined with customers’ sketches.

Osteria di Vico Palla

Osteria di Vico Palla

Down a dark alley for dinner to Osteria di Vico Palla was another winner. Low-key, popular with locals, moderately price, great food; what’s not to love? I think our dinner, with a small Italian-style tip, came to €50.00, including a wine. We ate lunch and dinner for less than we pay for most dinners out in Roma.
Cozze (mussels) marinara at Vico Palla.

Cozze (mussels) marinara at Vico Palla.

Between the meals, we managed to walk about 7 km and to see the fine aquarium, which is complete with dolphins. Well-curated in Italian and English, it was busy but not crowded on this fine, late-May day. The tanks are immaculate, the animals seem healthy and stimulated, and the displays stunning. If you get to Genova, it’s a fine way to pass a couple of hours.
We are happy we passed through Genoa. Since we’ll be in Liguria again in October, we just might have to stop in at Cavour 21 for lunch one more time.
Schoolkids on a filed trip enjoy the dolphins at play.

School kids on a field trip enjoy the dolphins at play.

Tartaruga, Aquario di Genova.

Tartaruga, Aquario di Genova.

Jellyfish at Aquario di Genova. There were at least half a dozen different species.

Jellyfish at Aquario di Genova. There were at least half a dozen different species.

15 Responses to “In transito: Genova”

  1. krumkaker June 9, 2016 at 22:09 #

    Thanks for the restaurant recommendations! While I am weather-bound in Accra, my husband is in Genova tonight en route to France. I had sent him your post, and they just had a lovely seafood dinner at Osteria di Vico Palla. They were very pleased! And he says Genova looks very nice.


    • gooddayrome June 10, 2016 at 05:47 #

      What good fortune! I am pleased my little blog was useful! Imagine you in Africa, me in Switzerland, your husband in Italy, and we are connected because of Rome, where we never even met! Fascinating!


  2. Christine May 29, 2016 at 19:13 #

    Great post, Laurel! Just curious — when you travel by train between Roma and Parigi, do you take the overnight train or day train? I also enjoy train travel, but I wonder about a long haul like that? I did read recently that the night train is going to be discontinued due to lack of ridership. Any thoughts on that?


    • gooddayrome May 30, 2016 at 05:54 #

      Hi Christine. We have done Parigi-Roma in one day, going through Milan. In September we will travel Roma-Parigi through Milan and Zurich. Yes long days, but preferred to a plane any day.

      Three times going from Roma to Parigi we have stopped in Milan for a night because the SNCF fare between Milan and Parigi is so low it is worth spending the night there and taking the early train, otherwise you get in very late to Parigi.

      Only night train we’ve taken was Roma-Vienna, and it was great.


      • Christine May 30, 2016 at 12:29 #

        Thanks for the info, Laurel. I may be traveling from Parigi to Roma next year and have been looking at the options. The TGV train looks very nice. Hope you continue to enjoy yourselves!


  3. Chloe Erkenbrecher May 29, 2016 at 09:11 #

    OK, what is ripassata? I sauté mine with lardon (bacon) and a little garlic and yes, it is strange that the French don’t eat beet greens. We told some English friends about eating them and they assured us that they were poison and were fed only to animals. Lucky animals.


  4. Chloe Erkenbrecher May 28, 2016 at 09:54 #

    I had no idea that you could get beet greens in Italy. They have to be our favorite vegetable and we have a neighbor here who furnishes us with all we can eat as no-one else eats them. The only place that I have visited in Genova is the cemetery, which is outstanding. Been there twice. Suggest it.


    • gooddayrome May 28, 2016 at 20:10 #

      How odd you cannot get beet greens in France! We like them “ripassata” if possible, like cicoria, but boiled is fine, too. Never thought to go to the cemetery!


    • gooddayrome May 29, 2016 at 11:47 #

      Ripassata is used for cicoria, spinaci & bietola. For cicoria & bietola you have to boil them first, then you drain and saute them in olive oil with garlic & peperoncini. You can make it lightly spicy or quite hot. I like to boil up a batch of greens on a Sunday then use them for ripassata making small batches during the week.


  5. Marcia Kakiuchi May 28, 2016 at 04:33 #

    My mouth watered reading your descriptions of lunch and dinner…..and especially watered at the great prices!!! I would never have guessed the largest aquarium was here!!! And to think you were in the homeland of our grade school rhyme …….. In fourteen hundred and ninety two Christopher Colombus sailed the ocean blue!


    • gooddayrome May 28, 2016 at 05:18 #

      And yet Italy did not support old Chris: the Spanish did! There is a nice big monument to him in front of the train station. It was a very important seaport in its day. Still is, I guess.


  6. ckleonard May 27, 2016 at 19:51 #

    Genova REALLY sounds like a place I would enjoy visiting. Low key and such out of sight food! I’m drooling over that fried anchovy dish!


    • gooddayrome May 28, 2016 at 05:16 #

      Anchovies — acciughe in Italian — are among our favorite things when they are done right, These were well-executed. We love the simple little places that probably would not be acceptable in the U.S. And people who love what they do! I made a dish with acciughe once and they are buggers to clean! Best to eat them whole fried, bones and all!


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