Down to the Riviera
After Barcelona, my mom flew back home to Florida and I went on to meet up with Ashley in Italy, where she was living over the summer in Florence. The next morning, we boarded a train for a little Ligurian getaway along the northern coast. We stayed at a small place in the town Chiavari, which was down the coast from some of the larger cities like Genoa and Santa Margherita Ligure, but actually very charming. After transferring in Pisa and several hours of riding in a train, we dropped our bags at the hotel and headed right away to Genoa to explore.
Sadly the day started out quite overcast, but I'm not sure it would have made a huge difference as Genoa was not the most aesthetic city. It is first and foremost a port and functions as such with huge docks and shipping containers lining the water, signs of industry at every turn--very rough around the edges. We found a few gems in the rough though and enjoyed visiting a couple of the palaces, the Palazzo Reale and the Villa del Principe, where the duchess was actually home the day of our visit. We also wandered through the historic center for a bit, stopping to see the Cathedral of San Lorenzo and the church San Pietro en Banchi, as well as darting into a decently cute cafe or shop here and there when we did pass one. Genoa is famous for its history, to be sure, once a powerful republic in the 11th to 13th centuries. But the city's power has declined since the medieval period and most of what is left is a run down port.
The most charming area we visited around Genoa towards the end of the day was the beach, Boccadasse Spiaggia, which was a quick taxi ride away from the center of the city. The little harbor looked like it belonged with the nearby towns of Cinque Terre rather than wedged beneath a city like Genoa. We really enjoyed a quick exploration of the small streets as well as some gelato at one of the few restaurants in town washed down with some prosecco along the water. We then headed back to the train and returned to Chiavari, where we had a wonderful dinner at the surprisingly hipster Bottega Nazionale, where we devoured some fresh pasta and took in the quirky atmosphere.