Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Madonna’s Immaculate Conception (As Opposed to Madonna’s “Immaculate Collection”)

Given our religious upbringings, Martello and Trofie Wife are not well versed in all matter of Catholic practice and dogma. So when we learned that Monday, December 8 was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we scratched our heads and remained befuddled but thankful for any holiday that creates a three-day weekend with Monday off. (While we thought that the holiday referred to the immaculate conception of Jesus (which would be kind of quick given the 12/25 birthday), it actually refers to his mother’s “pure” conception, which, although undertaken by her parents au natural, rendered her free from the original sin with which everyone else supposedly is born. Jesus’s conception is apparently “virginal,” not “immaculate.” Thank you, Wikipedia!) We had originally considered taking another three- or five- hour train ride somewhere (just like Trofie Wife’s sister in Zurich was seven whenever she traveled somewhere in Europe, any train trip that Trofie Wife takes in Europe is three or five hours away—sorry for the bit of insidery family lore for those unfamiliar with the story). But yet again, the computer screen called to Martello, so we decided to stay put and explore our Genoese home base.

Well, we didn’t make it outside on Saturday (well, Martello did make it to the grocery store to pick up what was supposed to be just eggs (for the molten chocolate cake mix) and steel wool; he returned nearly two hours later with two full bags; he just really likes supermarkets (as do I). We then vowed to spend Sunday in a more exploratory mode.

And explore we did! Although we hit the snooze one too many times and missed the train that would take us to the old Casella railway (a very old scenic trackway leading to walking paths on the outskirts of Genoa, northeast of our home in Arenzano), we did make it to a branch of the Parco Beigua, a beautiful protected regional park (kind of like a state park), in our usual, roundabout manner. Trofie Wife found Googlemap directions to the park administrative center, which we figured would be at the head of the park. We still don’t really know street names here, other than our own (we find our way by visual aids—lamppost, staircase, bakery), but from the map we saw that the offices were over the train tracks and across the highway. Martello thought they were on one side of the tracks and on the side of one highway; Trofie Wife thought they were on the opposite two sides but since Martello usually has the better sense of direction, followed him (getting winded along the way) up a steep incline of steps (there are many in this town) to what we thought would lead to the park, but only left us across the street from the local hospital (and somewhere near the legendary canile—the organizers still haven’t called…). So, we decided to throw in the towel and just take the train into Genoa to hopefully catch a museum and dinner. But while approaching the tracks, we found a street sign that corresponded to the Googlemap directions. To hurry this story along, we ended up circling Arenzano to find this park. While we managed to locate the administrative offices, they did not, in fact, lead to the park, but luckily, we eventually found a sign that indicated that some sort of aviary outlook was “up ahead.” “Up ahead” turned into a two-mile or so hike up the steep incline that was the auto road to the park, not the hiking trail proper. Since Trofie Wife doesn’t regularly Mousercize (or perform any traditional exercise other than taking long walks), she strained the top portion of both legs in the process of getting her relatively stumpy limbs to more or less keep apace with Martello’s long strides. But no pain, no gain, right? And what a view from the top, which we proudly display below.

We hiked back down the actual marked trails to the famed Bambini church behind our house (that's its belltower in the above photo). So, we essentially followed in the footsteps of famed Genoese Christopher Columbus, accidentally circumnavigating (or in his case, attempting to) to find that what we were looking for was just straight ahead. We plan to return to the park in coming weekends for the fresh air and exercise.  But next time, we’ll avoid the hike before the hike!

Soreness aside, we managed to make it into Genoa for dinner and a glimpse of the Christmas tree in Piazza Ferrari (think the Rockefeller Center Tree as a fetus, see picture below). 

We spent the actual holiday in another sleep- and design software-induced fog, but made it out just before sunset to wander through the local park and see what we thought were decorations (a mistranslation of the flier—it was a craft fair). This weekend must be Italy’s equivalent of “Black Friday” in terms of it being the official kick-off for holiday decorations and shopping in all the small towns (turns out we missed the local tree lighting on Saturday night). We hope to take in some more (adopted) holiday cheer in the coming weeks in our adopted home.

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife


hillel hammerman said...

thank you for the really interesting entry and those beautiful scenic coastline photos. Most importantly, thanks to you, I now know why alternate side of the street parking was cancelled today! Keep those informative comments coming!

Nat said...

I had also wondered why alternate side parking has been suspended for the past two days! Thank you for this revelation, and the beautiful pictures.

Trofie Wife said...

Martello is quite handy with a camera!

Trofie Wife said...

Actually, alternate side was suspended not only for Immaculate Conception but Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday that's essentially their celebration of the Akeda.