When we visited France in 2002, we were discussing the beautiful sites we had seen in France with a French waiter. After listening to us for a little while, he responded, “yes, France is beautiful, but the most beautiful sites in Europe are found in Italy”. I have always remembered those words, and have looked forward to one day visiting Italy. That day came last week, with my traveling companion and 17 year old son, Chris.
Heading south out of town from Geneva, the first thing that one encounters along the highway is the spectacle of the Alps. Coming from the frozen tundra that is Minnesota, we’re not too used to seeing mountains at all, let alone mountains as glorious as the Swiss Alps.(My brother and sister live in Washington State along the Northern Cascades, and I’m sorry you two, but even those mountains don’t compare to what we saw heading toward Italy.)
Another 45 minutes or so up the road, one encounters Mount Blanc, the highest peak in Europe. The view features rocky, jutting peaks and deep blue glaciers as you make your way up the mountains.Then, rather than driving or around or between the peaks, one approaches what might be classified as the world’s eighth wonder: a 12 kilometer long tunnel that goes
Mt. Blanc (at a cost of 52 Swiss francs for the round trip).
We arrived in Genoa, checked in at our Hostel, unpretentuously named “The Hostel”, and were welcomed graciously by our hosts Barbara and Carlo. Then we ventured down to the port (Genoa is the 6th largest city in Italy, the largest port city, and is home to about 630,000 people. We walked out to the end of one of the piers, and I took this post-card-esque photo.
Later that evening, after a dinner of authentic Italian pizza (what else?) we wandered through the catacombs of the old city. Apartment buildings that are centuries old are jammed together and connected only by walkways that are 4 or 5 feet wide.To walk through this part of town is like walking though a maze with 5 story tall walls. Its a little claustrophobic, but fascinating at the same time.
Here we are at the end of the evening, before returning to the hostel.Our first trip to Italy, and I think our French waiter had it right.