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I finally found on the Friday of my stay with Livi where all the Americans around here go and I can see why. The place is called 5 Islands and refers to five villages dotted along a sheer part of the coastline south of Genoa. They are called island because the only way to reach them before road and rail was by sea and it is still the easiest.

All except the middle one have harbours in the centre. They all have crystal clear waters around then and in part I wish I had brought packed my swimming costume as although the weather had started unpromising it turned into a sunny hot day and I have the red face and neck to prove it.

Livi's father drove us along the coast to just south of the island to the Port of Venus and we caught a boat to the furthest north of the collection, which was also the largest. We pasted one of the most isolated collections of house on the mainland. They can only be reached by climbing many steep steps it had no mains electricity or running water each house has a well and solar panels

We spent some time exploring the village finding out that most of the street ended in dead ends up hills. There were a couple of very interesting churches that I got to explore. Including one that had fallen into disrepair after the group that worshiped there disappeared. It looked a little a free masons house the way it was decorated.

There is a path that can be walked between all of the five villages and we walked a small part of it between the two further south villages. It was an easy 30 minute walk on a man made path some of the others are much more rugged. This part was paved and level with parts of it covered over to escape some of the burning heat. We all managed to get a little sun burned. My skin being the fairest I came off the worst of the three of us but by the following day most of it had vanished thanks to lots of applications of moisturiser.
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On Tuesday the weather finally broke to wonderful sunshine and we made out way over to the cemetery. I had been rather impressed by the statues I have seen in PortoFino but I was told they were nothing compared to the pieces in Genoa. It used to be outside the city but as the city has grown it has moved inside the city limits but still is a very large site. As soon as you go in the door you come to the family tombs that make up three walls of a very impressive entrance with a giant statue in the middle. I was not prepared for the scale but it was amazing so many life size figures grieving widows and children gather around the door. Lots of angels pulling the souls to heave. They were so life like detail of dress fabrics and lace of the shawls. We explored some of other gravesites as well going almost all the way up to the top. I am never quite prepared for the amount of hills I keep having to walk up I need new knees.

Wednesday we did a lot more walking this time around the old city centre the historical bit of the city and the market near Livi's house. I was by then suffering with a full-blown cold but I didn't want it to slow me down so had to learn a few more Italian words for things to buy for a cold. We did take things a little slowly but still saw many churches and other sites of the city. A lot of the Churches were done out in black and white stone that is from the local to the area. I loved the way the houses were painted in most cases instead of being carved. Saint George's house was a beautiful example of this with a full mural on the wall facing the sea and smaller details all the way round. We also went up to the highest point in Genoa that is reached by a train that is pulled up and down on a rope system. It was amazing to be up that high and see a few more of the watch points that are dotted along the mountains behind the city.

Thursday did some more exploring of the city centre with a need to buy things to bring back home. We meet up with Livi's sister for this adventure. Saw a few more churches and some odd little streets. Stopping in a bar to have a drink. Bars in Europe in general are very different to the bars you find here. We got brought a small plate of things to eat and asked if we wanted an alcoholic or soft drink. We were than presented with crushed strawberry drinks as we all opted for soft drinks. It was an easy place to be than some of the bars here. I hate the loud music and the crowded places as I find it very difficult to concentrate on what anyone else is saying or even hear them most of the time. This was a very different type of place.
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Mary commented that she hadn't had a chance to see Portofino in her travels around Itatly so if gives me a good excuse to post the first collection of my pictures from my travels.

Warning to dial up users there are lots of pictures under the cut so it may take a while to load the page.
Read more... )


Sep. 26th, 2006 07:22 pm
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The holiday so far is an eye opener I never expected Genoa to be so big but seeing it on arrival I realised that I under estimated just how large it would be. It is very beautiful city of differences it has grown from a small centre up into the mountains that surround it. It is a patch work of the old small fisherman's cottages and multi-storey multi coloured buildings. The large important older buildings have their outsides painted to mimic carved stone and status.

My first day here Livi took me up the hill at the back of her house to see one of the villas and its gardens that have been given to the city as a park. Like Scotland this part of Italy gets a lot of rain so all was green and lush but Autumn has not come yet so the trees still have all their leaves.

The second day we took a boat trip to a little village down the coast called PortoFino it is cut into the hills it sits on with only small space in front of the harbour that was flat and leave surrounded by bars and tourist centred shops. Walking to the church there were galleries and more examples of the small fisherman's cottages. The Church from the front and the side facing the village was bright yellow. The grave yard at the back had a few graves in the ground but most people seemed to be commemorated on plaques on the wall with coffin shaped spaces behind them. A few were empty so I could see how deep a wide they were. Some of the very important family had small shires on the second level. I was told by Livi and her parents if I found that impressive i should see the cemetery in Genoa as it is one of the largest and has the most impressive monuments in Europe.

Yesterday we visited the largest aquarium in Europe. It is in the harbour and made party from a boat that was special built for it. I was very surprised at just how big it was not only does it house an impressive collection of fish it also has seals, dolphins and penguins visiting like me from Edinburgh. The whole place took several hours to look around and we took many pictures some of which even turned out and when I get back I will post several pictures.

We also saw some of the historical centre of the city with it's many beautiful churches and Cathedral.

Today we explore the cemetery of Genoa it is one of the oldest and Largest in Europe. It has some truly breath taking sculptures. The tombs of the rich and famous line the wall of the front part most are covered with life size statues many are members on the family. A few had the widow at the tomb or the children staring up at the grave of their parents. It was amazing to see so many of them in al in one place. I again took many picture trying to capture what I saw. Most where white marble many of the dresses cut to look like black velvet of the women's moaning cloth.


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January 2008



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