Oh, seriously people, if you get the chance to go to Italy - GO! It's such a beautiful country, even the grotty bits. Italy shines and sparkles and twinkles and entices you in. It scrambles into your heart and won't let go.
The girls and I took the train - cheap, but ridiculously time-consuming, given the distance: 4h20 to Nice (but oh! the scenery...), then hang about a bit there, then 50 mins to Ventimiglia (via Monaco and St Raphaël and Cap d'Ail...), then hang about there for a longer bit, then just over 2 more hours to Genova.
We splurged on a taxi to the hotel, we arrived at our hotel in style.
Words fail me. Our room looked out over what should have been a pretty grim site: dockyards, a cloverleaf junction and flyover, cranes. But even that was glorious. We looked directly on to the famous Lantern, dating back to God knows when (but pre Christopher Columbus, anyway, waaaaay before), the sun was setting, the sky was blue and green and orange and pink, the cranes looked like giant red and white giraffes. It was stunning. Of course, I didn't take a picture. But I did take one the day we left, early, early in the morning:
I know it doesn't look much (I guess I take rubbish pictures) but I love this juxtaposition - the ancient Lantern, the modern docks. The sea stretching out in the background. Swoon.
We stayed for a week, and it flew by. We did so many things, yet still have so much more to visit next time (and yes, there will be a next time, I hope). We ate pasta and pizza and icecream (not together, you understand). We stroked sting rays. (Stroked. sting. rays!!!) We went into a real submarine. We visited the house Christopher Columbus grew up in. We visited the pirate ship made for Polanski's film. We went up in a panoramic lift thing ("Bigo"), 40 m above ground, with spectacular views over the city:
It was a magical, magical week and I am soooo glad we went. Yes, my debts are suffocating me (direct debits being refused, credit cards blocked...) but it was worth the expense, truly worth it. Especially as we didn't spend very much at all (thanks to my dad giving me money for my birthday and me squirrelling it away).
Ah, Italy. Would that I could return RIGHT NOW.
Soon, my friend, soon. I will be back. My heart belongs to you.