Genoa is a city waiting to be discovered, step-by-step, piazza-by-piazza. It’s a city rich in culture and history and its gastronomic tradition is one of the best in Italy.
After a short break at the hotel, with Michele and Sara (fellow bloggers) we meet Chiara, our travel guide and companion for the next two days. As we stroll towards the historic centre, Chiara introduces us to Genoa, the history, it’s buildings.
We enter for the first time into the “caruggi”, the narrow streets connected one to another in a labyrinth of streets and squares constituting the historic center of the city.
The beauty and peculiarity of the caruggi is strange as you can abruptly find yourself in front of beautiful buildings once home to Kings and Princes, scattered around the historic centre. In 2006 this area became a member of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
For lunch we stop in one of the most typical restaurants in the city: Sa Pesta. It is the most ancient “Sciamadda” in Genoa, and a fixed meeting point for the Genovese, famous for its homemade dishes cooked in a wood oven, simple but delicious.
Eventually comes the all-important moment of finding out how to prepare the true Genovese Pesto!
Roberto our teacher and creator of the Pesto world championship, has already set up our workbench with all the necessary ingredients to prepare the true Genoese pesto: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, Sardinian Pecorino, Fresh Genovese basil and salt.
We carefully follow Roberto’s instructions: the result is just about acceptable, a good pesto, not great, but Good! Anyhow we enjoy spreading it on a slice of bread to gobble down.
Again out evening consists of more delicious food- for our dinner we’re lucky enough to be guests of a Genovese family at their home.
We are warmly greeted it’s almost like we are entering the house of some old friends, not strangers. It immediately creates a great atmosphere: in less than 5 minutes I find myself preparing a pine nut sauce, led by our chef for the evening, Giancarlo, a simple, friendly, hearty person. He explains the secret of preparing the pine nut sauce, emphasizing the importance of mortar (made from white Carrara marble with wooden pestle), and of course the ingredients, obviously all fresh and from local crops.
Courses are calmly served, with no hurry, while chatting. There are no tables to clear or rude waiters: we are part of the family and time, at least for one night, has no importance.
We drink the last toast to the beautiful evening at around 12.30 am.
I’ve been travelling around the world for many years, and on many occasions I have had the honor of being invited to local families for a meal: I’ve always had a good time but never have I experienced such an atmosphere of intimacy and felt so welcomed as I did in Genoa.
I will always remember that special day and meeting equally special people. Genoa is no longer a city for a short stay, but a city to return too, and to devote much more than two days.
Where is Genoa?