There are about 60 million Italians, but they sound like so many more when you are in Italy.
They are a loud people.
In Savona I cycled around to find a supermarket and I stopped to ask questions of an Italian with a speech disorder. Hair was growing out of his face at unexpected places. He looked like he might actually work in a supermarket: shabby clothed and knowledgable about where I could find the sugar. He spoke good Italian so I didn’t understand a word of what he said, but he repeated quatro, ‘four’, and because it was a Sunday, I assumed it was only open till four o’clock. That was alright, it was only half past two… When I got at the supermarket it found it closed and a sign that said it would open from 16.00 to 20.00.
To get back to the campsite I cycled along the beach. It was a pebble beach, but that was okay, because it was covered with bodies of people being stone grilled. Thinking it over I concluded that this was a good thing: I’d rather have Italians in the water than on the road…
The following day I followed the coast to Genua on the so called Via Aurelia or, less poetical, the ss1. Navigating in Genoa was only marginally less frightening (and exasperating) than it was in Lisbon.
On my first day I visited two museums in Nervi: The Raccolte Frugone Museum and The Museum of Modern Art. The first had some fine art and I asked to make some sketches which was alright. It was nice and cool. When I was nearly finished with a portrait I stood up and no sooner had I packed my bag or some woman took my chair and put it back where I had taken it. When some time later I left the building she stood outside smoking a cigarette. ”Buongiorno’, I said and smiled. She exhaled. ”Buongiorno’, she said and looked at me in a way that could only be describe as in an unsmiling manner.
The Museum of Modern Art, housed in another monumental villa, was much nicer. The lady who sold me the ticket smiled and said I could sit and sketch anywhere I want and stay as long as I like. She also showed me the toilet.
I was the only one in the Museum and I enjoyed it thoroughly, it was fantastic. I loved the work of Rubaldo Merello with its abundant colours.
The day after I bought campingaz and read in Jules Verne in the original French. I had beans for dinner.
The third day I took the train to Genoa. The old city had narrow alleys which were dark and cool, even in the midday heat. There were many little groceries and I bought some delicious plums for little money. I walked through the monumental Via Garibaldi which was on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It was deemed to be ‘of outstanding value to humanity’ . It was also very hot.