Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pause for Pride

Although the rest of the family wasn’t quite up for the schlep and the crowds, Trofie Wife really wanted to experience Genova’s turn at hosting Italy’s National Gay Pride march (as noted several months ago, it rotates from city to city each year). Martello pulled himself away from the pool to join me as official photographer. Apparently he was quite inspired, as we have many pictures of various floats and revelers. We were stationed at the start of the parade, by the train station, so we don’t know if they encountered any unfriendliness as they drew deeper into the city and passed some of the churches. However, the news didn’t seem to report any trouble with protests. All in all, it seemed to be a successful event!


The event kicked off with a not-so-environmentally-friendly rainbow smoke explosion. It was kind of cool, though.

This adorable little train carried all the kids participating with Famiglie Arcobaleno (the COLAGE of Italy). Check them out here: http://www.famigliearcobaleno.org/

We think that nostro nipote di Cleveland might have enjoyed taking a ride.

We think this was the Ecuadorian float. We're very international here.

No explanation needed.

Check this out, il Capitano di Vicenza: This is the atheist group that wanted to advertise on buses in Genova but were banned after pressure from the Church (we think the posters successfully ran in London). Loose translation: the bad news is that God doesn't exist; the good news is that we don't need Him/Her/It.

Plenty of anti-Vatican (and anti-Berlusconi) signs, this being one of the tamer ones, simply asking that the Vatican "leave us alone!"

This is the float from Agedo, Italy's PFLAG-like group (each of those blue ribbons signfies the different relatives/friends/neighbors they're/we're all supporting). They can be found at http://www.agedo.org/. Trofie Wife clapped extra loudly for these supportive relatives and friends (my fellow sidewalk revelers joined in suit). More allies are certainly needed all over the world.

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

Friday, July 24, 2009

La Famiglia Arrivo

As the weather warms up, the rain fades, and the beaches populate with wrinkled, orange-tinged women and Speedo-clad, beer-bellied elderly men, Trofie Wife and Martello’s popularity quotient seems to be rising; everyone wants to visit! The last week of June it was finally time for some of Trofie Wife’s parenti to find their way to the Mediterranean. I genitori were the first to arrive (after some transportation snafus). They just happened to get here on yet another holiday, La Feste di San Giovanni (aka the Feast of St. John the Baptist, patron saint of Genova), which meant that Martello could join us. We had a quick lunch at one of the beach clubs and later that evening, dinner at our favorite restaurant (we’ll take you if you come!), which always outdoes itself each time we visit.

Martello returned to work on Thursday, while Trofie Wife led her parents on a halting tour of Genova (my padre, il Capitano di Vicenza, has a bad leg at the moment, but the real hold up is my madre, la coniglietta, attempting to take pictures, wherein heads of people, tops of buildings, and the general gist of things will inevitably be missing). I genitori were able to get the general flavor of Genova, aided by the subway system and some benches. It’s always interesting to gauge people’s opinions of the city. Trofie Wife thinks Genova is akin to anchovies in that it’s an acquired taste (I’m riffing on an old Tori Amos quote, but it works!). Just as Martello and I have grown to enjoy and admire anchovies (though we know they will never be the same outside Italy), so too have we come to love Genova, despite its grittiness and nonsensical layout (which a German acquaintance of ours said would be razed by German city planners if it were positioned in Deutschland).

The weekend brought the arrival, over the Alps, of Zurich sister and her brood. The volume got very loud, and we thank the local restaurants, hotels, and shops for tolerating it. Martello had to work past child feeding time, so he was unable to join us for dinner, which Zurich brother-in-law, quite the foodie, deemed superb (and where we dined was far from a fancy joint). Saturday morning and early afternoon was spent on a group pilgrimage to the park (where the peacock was kind enough to strut his stuff for the kids) and the grocery store (note: do not ever go to a grocery store with more than three people, especially if those people are prone to wandering through aisles and getting lost (and those weren’t the children!)) to get provisions for the rest of the weekend.

Zurich sister and Trofie Wife hit the beach.

La coniglietta reminds us that "the sun is not your friend" (the best way to break off that toxic relationship is with an ugly, SPF-repelling hat); Zurich brother-in-law and niece instead choose to embrace the warm star around which our planet revolves.

Martello shows the younguns how sandcastle building is done.

Aside from one interlude (see the following post), we spent the rest of the weekend cooking and eating and sitting by the pool or beach (the whole clan even got to meet Mrs. Furley, a brief and fleeting event which she has already felt the need to discuss with each of us several times in the near month since it occurred). We made fresh pizza (including the dough, which was incredibly easy) Saturday night and then pulled out all the stops for Sunday night dinner—whole fish and
risotto. We were also able to celebrate Zurich nephew’s birthday with two torte (one ice cream, one yellow cake; it’s important to diversify). Sunday evening was capped off by an impromptu late-night walk around town with Zurich sister and brother-in-law.

Our whole fish extravaganza

Frank Lloyd "I Still Don't Know My Left from my Right" Turns Four! Trofie Wife manages to carry the lit cake from the kitchen to the dining room/living room/office without setting the house on fire/fainting from fear.

Flirty Josephine Chestnut decides that Uncle Martello is incapable of feeding himself cake; she sets to work showing him who's boss (yo, niece: he's going to be completely bald by the time you're old enough for him, so I'd just move on...).

I genitori, Martello, e Trofie Wife alla terrazza.

Trofie Wife sent off everyone early Monday morning, as they continued on to their next destinations—the folks to the rovine di Sicily and the others, back to Svizzera. I parenti, used to Trofie Wife staying in bed for as long as possible, were certainly impressed that I left the house before Martello was even due at work. Looks like I’m learning about time management in, of all places, Italy!

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wherefore Art Thou, Cicciarelli?

The third weekend of June, we finally made it to Noli, a small medieval town west of us, just past Savona, in order to hunt down the amazing fried anchovies—known as cicciarelli—which we heartily shoveled at Slow Fish. We didn’t find them, which was disappointing. Perhaps it was because we were looking for cicciarelli and locally they are known as lussi or lussotti (the people selling them at Slow Fish could have added that to their awning sign!). Either way, we had a lovely time.

Noli is known as one of the best-preserved medieval Ligurian villages. It still boasts its original city walls (which we walked) and which are capped by a stunning stone castle (strangely enough, we couldn’t find the entrance). Check out these truly astounding views:

We also stopped by the Romanesque church, which is touted as the loveliest Romanesque church in Liguria (it’s hard for churches to compete in this country, so they have to find their marketing niche). We ended the evening with a lovely outdoor dinner (its only flaw the droning Tom Waits background music) and strolled back through Spotorno (the neighboring town that houses the train station) as the sun set. It was in Spotorno where Trofie Wife discovered the winning flavor combination of fondente e violette gelato (dark chocolate and violet; it’s great!). Somehow, we just caught the train (if we hadn’t serendipitously bounded up the stairs when we did, we would have had to wait a whole hour for another one.) Yet another lovely way to end the weekend.

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

Assorted Outings

The Genova Poetry Festival came to town the third week of June, coinciding with Bloomsday (June 16, the date on which the action in James Joyce’s Ulysses takes place; fans all over the world spend the day revisiting the work in public settings, notably with much fanfare at Symphony Space in New York City). Trofie Wife was excited for what she believed would be a staged dramatic reading in Porto Antico, but it was little more than a bookstore reading (in Italian; Ulysses is difficult enough to understand in one’s native language!).

The week continued to bring us good food and fun. One of Martello’s colleagues invited a group of us for an awesome dinner, which was capped off by a beautiful walk home along the beach under the glistening stars. We joined co-workers (some of the same ones; some different) for a fun outing the following night, and we made some fantastic meals for our own enjoyment.

And that Saturday morning Martello finally made it to the Genova synagogue. He arrived without notifying the powers that be in advance, so he had to answer a few questions, but the regulars were quite happy to see a new face there, especially since they were running low for a minyan (the ten worshipers (in this case, ten men) needed for a prayer quorum). As Trofie Wife had read elsewhere, the synagogue follows a Sephardic style and is strict about the place of women (upstairs, in the gallery, though Martello said there was one kibitzing in the back of the men’s section). Needless to say, Martello confirmed that it wasn’t my type of prayer experience, and I would have been frustrated, so it was best to let him go solo. Martello can write more about it on his own, but it’s essentially a dwindling community, as members move to other parts of Italy, Europe, North America, or Israel. They expect the synagogue to not be regularly functioning within a generation, which is, of course, sad. Martello had a chance to speak with the medical student who organizes gatherings for Jewish students and young adults, and we’ve been added to their e-mail list and Facebook group. Provided that we’re here long enough to take advantage of it, it would be nice to meet some new people. Perhaps if we’re here even longer, Trofie Wife can find her way to one of the WUPJ synagogues in Milano!

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Best Monday Ever

Martello spent the second full week of June on major deadline, so following that, he needed some serious downtime (luckily, he could use Monday as a comp day). We capped off a lazy Saturday by attending a local beachfront party for a departing colleague. Even as the night crept into the wee hours, it stayed just warm enough so as not to freeze.

We decided to spend the weekend further down the coast, exploring the fabled shores of Portofino, Rapallo, and Santa Margherita Ligure. Despite Trofie Wife’s usual queasiness for the sailing life, we opted to take a boat from the Genova port down to Portofino. Luckily, the waters were calm, and even if they hadn’t been, the sights were gorgeous enough to warrant some nausea, had it been necessary.

We're on a boat!

View back to Genova

San Fruttuoso

View of Portofino from Castello Brown

Portofino Marina

We didn’t disembark at San Fruttuoso—the picture you see above is the entire town—but we hope to return again to tour the famous abbey (sweet deal for those monks). Our boat finally landed at the fabled Portofino. It is a lovely marina with stunning views as you head into the hills (especially the Castello Brown, which was a fort at one point, later turned into a sprawling residence by a Brit and now stands as a museum), but there isn’t a beach, so it’s best enjoyed from the sundeck of your mega yacht, should you have one. Cruise season has apparently commenced, so we watched as tender after tender arrived for the short port of call, unloading the largest number of Americans we’d seen around these parts, saying such things as “we’re in Italy—we’ve got to be able to find some pizza around here somewhere!”). We did find a hidden charm—the Portofino Sculpture Garden. Martello particularly enjoyed this place and took some fabulous pictures:

We eventually boarded another boat that would take us just a few minutes down the shore to Rapallo, another well-known beach town. We had a lovely dinner by the water (featuring, in Trofie Wife’s opinion, the best olives ever) and rounded out the evening with delicious gelato.

On Monday morning, we found our way to the funicular leading up to the Santuario di Montallegro. The ride itself, which dipped us up and over a colony of lush green trees made us feel as though we were descending into some middle earth, or New Zealand (it’s the same thing, right?). The peak was incredibly peaceful and featured a gorgeous view of the sea below. After fortifying ourselves with a surprisingly delicious pasta lunch, we hiked down the mountain. We got a little lost, but Martello enlisted the assistance of an elderly woman who was clandestinely feeding some neighborhood goats. Although our detour made us miss the boat to Santa Margherita, we took a quick train ride so we could enjoy some beach time before heading back to the homestead.

Martello declared it the best Monday ever (I’ll forgive him for not declaring that the Monday following our wedding; we knew well in advance that we’d be off work that day, and much as we love New York, a warm Mediterranean beach it is not…)

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

Monday, July 6, 2009

L’Aqua del Sindaco

For those of you who may have missed this story in The New York Times, it’s a great one about trying to get the Italians to cut down on their bottled water consumption in favor of tap (as Trofie Wife may have mentioned at some earlier point, our grocery store has an entire room devoted to bottled water; it’s quite insane).

In Venice, they’ve delightfully denoted it "L’Aqua del Sindaco," or the mayor’s water. Martello and Trofie Wife bought a couple of bottles on our first grocery run in October and just refill them with tap water. It’s not only tasty (and good for bagel making!), but reportedly it is loaded with lots of minerals (the good kind). We must admit that when we are on the go we often end up purchasing a bottle or two, but we’re trying our best to reduce our plastic foot (mouth?) print!


Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

Table Tennis Tourney

Here is Trofie Wife’s promised recollection of the Para Table Tennis European Championships!

It wasn’t quite Murderball (that’s a documentary about the US Paralympic Rugby team—see it if you haven’t; it’s amazing), but the competition was certainly fierce.

The event was held at the Valliant, which is a medium-size event space on the grounds of a planned redevelopment that also includes housing and a mall (which was designed so that enough light would come in through the roof and windows such that the Italians could keep their shades on indoors and features a store called “Sonny Bono—Born Trendy”) and is adjacent to the Genova Sampierdarena train station. At least 15 tables were set up around the floor, with little fences keeping the players (and errant balls) penned in. I found a good spot in the viewing gallery, right in front of a singles match, Israel v. Italy (I wasn’t sure who to root for! I ended up clapping for both, which probably confused everyone around me). The Italian player won that match and then teamed up for doubles, sweeping Israel yet again. (At least as far as the EU Paralympics committee is concerned, Israel and Turkey are part of Europe.)

It was pretty amazing to watch the competitors maneuver around the table. I was watching the players in wheelchairs, but there are others who have use of one or both legs, aided by braces or other devices; some players have trouble with their arms. Some of the players in chairs keep a hand on one of their wheels so that they can easily move around, and they are not shy about making each other lunge for cheap drop shots.

I was also able to catch some of the matches between Slovakia and Great Britain (I recognized several of the players from our shared flight and was happy to hear their teammates shout out such encouraging words as “Well played, Jane!” which brought me back in time to camp, where we were surrounded by BUNAC staff); unfortunately for the Brits, the Slovakians cleaned their clocks (I would not want to run into a Slovakian woman (in a wheelchair or not) wielding a paddle in a dark alley; they were fierce!).

Certain countries appear to be really good at this sport—Italy, France, Spain, and Slovakia were winning lots of matches that day. Matches (three games played to 11; must win by two) can go very quickly, especially if one side loses focus. Each game was monitored by a line judge and scorekeeper and boasted a ball girl or boy (who darted after errant balls after each point, just as in tennis).

The only bizarre thing about the event was seeing a large number of the athletes smoking outside the venue in between rounds of competition. That just seems wrong. But I guess, afterall, Trofie Wife must remember that we are in Europe!

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

Friday, July 3, 2009

God Loves Acoustic Guitar

So as Trofie Wife has observed on this blog, there are quite a few Catholic holidays which call for parades and processions. Little did I know that yet another one— Corpus Domini or Corpo e Sangue di Cristo was on its way until I saw a sign affixed to the main building door, reminding everyone to light and ornament their balconies out of respect per “Signore.” Now, you know that Trofie Wife and Martello have been happy to follow alongside these parades out of curiosity, but we have to stay within our comfort zone. And on this one, I knew where the line was, especially after doing a little research and finding out that this whole event revolved around parading the Eucharist bread (believed by believers to be the manifestation of Jesus’s body) under a canopy around town en route to the cathedral. This was clearly a religious event, and we just weren’t going to actively take part.

Inevitably, Mrs. Furley, our ever-present landlady, was on the case. I knew when our doorbell rang at 7 p.m., 24 hours prior to the event and then three times the following late morning and afternoon (finally followed up with a phone call), that she was fretting about the light display. And of course she was. She invited herself over to discuss the matter, explaining that we should put a small light or blanket on the balcony. I explained something along the lines of “per ebrei, Cristo non dio" (for Jews like us, Jesus isn’t God) and that for us to participate, would be a tacit acceptance of such, and that we weren’t comfortable with that. Either her comprehension wasn’t quite there, or she felt the need to proselytize, since her comeback was, “Well, you can put up a small light. The other American who lived here before you did.” Trofie Wife explained that she wasn’t familiar with the prior tenant’s religious beliefs, but was certain that this whole light thing wasn’t working for her and Martello. Mrs. Furley believed that Martello would feel differently about the matter (oh, if she only knew!) before returning to a prior conversation we had had regarding her own religious practices (she’s not really sure what she believes, but she goes along with it all the same, dozing in church all the while, something of which il padre is aware, as he has commented that "everyone knows you are somewhere else”). The encounter ended with our dear neighbor calling me a good Jew, I think, and allowing me to leave her apartment (we had migrated over there so she could pawn off some lights and show me her own display); I’m still not sure whether or not I'm offended.

When the procession actually started, it was fun to watch. Many (but not all, and I’m pretty sure that we aren’t surrounded by a colony of crypto-Jews here) of the windows were decked out like so:

No one appeared to be in a rush to carry me into eternal damnation for not adorning our balcony.

Corpus Domini is actually a ritual of Italian origin (Firenze (Florence) had an especially renowned celebration), which always takes place 60 days after Easter; it later spread throughout Europe. In Arenzano, the event takes on special meaning, as all the children that have had their First Communion that spring march at the head of the parade. This year, they held a special mass and had the procession headed by the local twins who were both ordained as priests recently (their mother must be kvelling, unless of course these are her only kids and she really wanted to be a nonna…). I knew that the new priests were around our age and had been having trouble getting my head around why someone would make such a self-sacrificing (on many levels) choice; but I guess you just have to hear the calling to fully understand.

As the group rounded my corner, a trio of acoustic guitars broke out in song—I swear the opening chords reminded me of stuff from the NFTY repertoire. The group wound its way down the street and then back up to the Bambini church, where more acoustic guitar was heard, followed by a brief wrap-up inside the church (despite my principled stand, I can still pop in and spy). The faithful were on their knees for most of the ten- to fifteen-minute ritual; I was the standing Jew in the corner. I think they removed the Eucharist from the special box in which it was being held, showed it to everyone on all sides of the church, almost like a magician does prior to carrying out an illusion, and relocked it in a special Eucharist safe. The event ended with more acoustic guitar. Which brings Trofie Wife to her thesis statement: God just really loves acoustic guitar. Doesn’t matter the religion, doesn’t matter what you’re asking for. Just throw together some chords and strum, and God is happy (double points for three-part harmonies).

[Can you spot the guitar strap??]

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

I Gusti de Recco

As Trofie Wife has made clear for quite a few months now, this country is all about culinary delights. So when you’ve got a town that is known for its superior food in a country that’s known for its amazing food, well, you’ve got to check it out. So that is how Martello and I found ourselves farther down the coast in Recco, the first glorious Sunday in June.

This town’s main claim to fame is its focaccia di formaggio (that would be cheese focaccia). We tried to research in advance “the best” place to check it out, but when we arrived, Martello just downed the first one we could find (we managed to locate the “best” place—essentially a shack on the beach—just prior to our departure; it was head and shoulders above the first one we tried). Opting to allocate my daily lactose consumption to gelato, I tried only a tiny bite of the famed bready item, but can agree with Martello that it was sublime. Although not quite as sublime as the gelato (Trofie Wife went with cinnamon and chestnut this go around), which Martello believed was the "best" gelato he had yet consumed in Italy—a very serious statement (I would tend to agree; it was fabulous).

After dining, we found some rocks to splay ourselves across and enjoyed reading while being sprayed by cool waters.

We ended our day with aperitivi (drinks and a hefty appetizer buffet) at a bar in the Genova port, watching the sun set over the glistening water. Pretty nice way to end the weekend, no?

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

The Strange Case of the EU Elections

Trofie Wife loves to vote, so it was unfortunate that I (not being an EU citizen) was unable to partake in the once-every-five-years European Union elections (I did vicariously participate by joining the Facebook group…). Official posters were affixed to a large metal billboard along the water and handbills were distributed at the Friday market. When Martello and I passed the billboard we were quite confused. It seemed as though all of the posters had been defaced with “Xs,” signaling someone’s disdain for a particular party. In this land of graffiti, that seemed like a plausible explanation. However, once I got my hand on a pamphlet, I figured it out: they use Xs here instead of checkmarks to encourage you to select that particular candidate:

Funny how the most subtle cultural differences can make you think…

As you may have read, in Italy, Berlusconi's party came out on top (despite all the looming scandals) and in general, the entire European Parliament moved further to the right, with some deeply scary, xenophobic parties making gains for the first time (particularly in England). They're stuck with these represenatives for the next five years, so we'll just have to wait and see how it all turns out.

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

Gli Stati Uniti

Only several days after our guests departed, Trofie Wife took off herself, to return to the United States (five of them!) for three weeks. The main purpose of the trip was to attend the weddings of two friends and (hopefully) meet the first-born of my dearest buddy. Thankfully, all three events went off without a hitch (thank you, bambino fuoco, for being so cooperative!), and I was even able to throw in visits to Ohio (to see my Italian-born sorella e la sua famiglia) and Pennsylvania (to brunch with miei amici di Philadelphia).

During my stay I was treated to a veritable parade of friends, family, and bureaucracy as I took care of various errands and appointments, moving on planes, trains, subways, and automobiles throughout New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Ohio, and Philadelphia (in hindsight, Trofie Wife really should have informed the Democratic National Committee as to my whereabouts, given my presence in three major swing states; I could have done some flyering).

While Trofie Wife was across the Atlantic, quickly forgetting all the Italian she had learned, Martello held down the fort, further immersing himself in the language and culture (he still hasn’t shown me (or you, for that matter) the pictures he took of the local medieval event, which I sadly missed). He was also able to enjoy more late nights out in Genova, without me complaining about getting sleepy and/or missing the train home.

Trofie Wife was ecstatic when her connecting flight from London touched down in Genova. Not only was I thrilled to be home and eager to see Martello once again (who was kind enough to cut his hair for the occasion), but I had picked up a valuable piece of information on the flight: the EU Paralympic Table Tennis Championships were being held in Genova that week! See, my flight was slightly delayed due to the boarding of a fleet of passengers in wheelchairs. It seemed curious, and they all seemed to know each other, so I knew that something cool was up (apparently some of the more formal Italians didn’t think it was quite so fantastico and were complaining about the delay; uh, you try to load yourself onto a plane at Gatwick if you can’t walk and then get back to me, ok?). The journalist in me got up the nerve to speak to an older gentleman who seemed rather excited and happy (as well as in the know) and he informed me, in his gentle, cockney accent, that I was traveling with the British and Irish teams! I was determined to make it to the event, and so I did. Look for the scoop in another post or two!

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

A Visit from the West

The second weekend of May, Martello e Trofie Wife were very happy to play tour guides to our first guests since winter, i parenti di Boston, Nonno Fondente e Nonna Menta (because if you haven’t already noticed, this blog is at least 33.3 percent devoted to gelato). Martello was luckily able to sneak out of work on the earlier side, so we could meet them for a late dinner in the heart of Genova. Fondente e Menta were good sports as hotel recommendations from the locals weren’t quite as great as hoped for; any future guests planning on staying in Genova proper would do best to consult the guidebooks/travel professionals instead of us (via our Genovese peers)! Nevertheless, we had a fantastic, food-filled weekend; Martello and I were practically rolling ourselves around on Monday!

We walked around the main touristy highlights of Genova, stopping for lunch at a great pizza joint in the Porto Antico and enjoying late-afternoon window shopping. We parted briefly before dinner, during which time Martello and I ran into some interesting happenings, including a protest to save local, family-owned stores (featuring free focaccia; the Italians really know how to throw a proper protest!), another organized leafleting against the closing of vicoli (small alleyways) to prevent crime (which could, in turn, harm local businesses positioned around these streets and “privatize” the city), a conceptual art piece being filmed (the guys were all wearing shirts that said “Play” and had speakers on their backs, blaring static), and most charming of all, an a capella tour of the city. We were just aimlessly wandering when we heard several melodious voices break into the unmistakable “Ba, ba, ba, ba, Barbara Ann…” We looked up and saw these guys:

[We somehow got a picture of this, but neglected to get a picture of us with our visitors. Noi dispiaciamo!]

Turns out, one of the churches was hosting a concert of singing groups from various parts of the country. They were “rehearsing” (and advertising) through a progressive concert (the “Genova Jam Tour”), which entailed stopping at various points around the city to show off their skills and range. It was pretty funny.

We also found a really amazing food store (yes, yes, Trofie Wife knows, they’re everywhere, but this one—as we learned after ingesting—had especially tasty products, including pasta cioccolato!). We carried our future pantry items into yet another delicious meal at a restaurant down by the porto. We somehow managed to digest by the time Fondente e Menta found their way to Arenzano the following morning to see our home and taste some local gelato, which they agreed was excellent. We should add that they have been dubbed according to their gelato flavor selection. Now Martello e Trofie Wife learned rather quickly that it is de rigueur to select at least two gelato flavors even when you order the smallest of cones. Martello tried to school i parenti in this custom, but they were beholden to their preferred flavors and hesitant to let another taste sensation impinge upon their respective beloved gusti.

With gelato tasting now checked off the to-do list, we were ready for the next adventure. And a trip to our neck of the woods would be incomplete without a true Italian experience: a train strike!

Yes, we learned—after Martello had sprung for prima classe tickets (which are kind of a joke on regional trains; you get an extra inch or two in the seat and possibly another armrest)—that the train was quite slow to arrive. After lots of conversing on the platform and inquiries at the ticket desk, the potential passengers learned that there was, in fact, a mini-strike afoot (which apparently no one had bothered to inform the ticketing agents about) but that the next train would be arriving…shortly.

Once we finally arrived in Genova, the requisite confusion continued as Martello had the taxi driver drop us off at the residential instead of the business number where our dining destination was located (yes, Genova is that crazy: on the same street you can have the same house number twice—the black one is a commercial building while the red one is a residence and there’s no rhyme or reason as to how anything is arranged). Thankfully, after an appetite-inducing walk, we finally located the restaurant and had a delightful last supper before the departure of i parenti for more relaxing climes. Martello and Trofie Wife thank them for their good humor when faced with some of the absurdities of life here (which nonetheless make for great storytelling)!

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife