The Lay of the Land
‘Il dolce far niente’ is an Italian phrase that means the sweet art of idleness. It is also a spot-on and colourful phrase that best describes a ten-day cruise in the Mediterranean through the Italian Riviera. Liguria is the official name of this thin crescent of Italian coastline, but to tourists and cruisers it is more commonly referred to as the Italian Riviera. Genoa is the largest city in the region. The Riviera di Ponente lies to the west, and the Riviera di Levante lies to the east. This dramatic and breath-taking coastline is filled with tiny bays and inlets, pastel-hued resort towns and quaint fishing villages. Everything is set amongst dramatic cliffs and bathed in lemony sunlight. There is a reason why the Italians call this place the Riviera of the Rising Sun.
This is my first solo cruise, booked at the last minute. While cruises have always catered to honeymooning couples, families and retirees, the cruise lines have gone a long way to make themselves more attractive to singles. During those times when I felt like a fish out of water, I simply plugged into my iPad and took advantage of the satellite Wi-Fi. This is also how I have been conducting all of my research and planning shore excursions. If I want to learn about Genoa, Cinque Terre or the history of pesto, I simply fire-up the Apple. While most foodies would know that pesto was invented in Liguria, this was news to me.
Two Days in Genoa
Genoa was our port of call for two days. The city is known throughout the world as being the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. During the 13th century, Genoa’s maritime power rivalled that of Venice. The historic district of Genoa is located on a strip of land between the mountains and the sea, so the best way to navigate the city is by foot. After doing some copious amounts of research, I compiled a list of must-see attractions. This is how I spent my two days in Genoa.
1. If you are an art enthusiast, then the Galleria Nazionale should be a top priority. It contains works by Luca Giordano, Guido Reni and Antonello da Messina.
2. Half the fun of the medieval centre of Genoa is getting lost in its tangled warren of cobbled streets. It is a hodgepodge of churches, 16th century homes and small shops selling everything from coffee to wine.
3. Genoa’s cemetery, which is called the Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno, is one of the city’s most famous landmarks. It is a sprawling, open-air museum on the outskirts of town. It takes several hours to explore, so plan accordingly.