Genoa does not win at first sight

Posted on Apr 2, 2017
Genoa does not win at first sight

44° 24′ 39.06” N
8° 55′ 24.5352” E

Course Genoa. Full sail. Great sailing. The harbour of Genoa is huge. You turn into the harbour and you keep sailing and sailing and sailing, the harbour just goes on and on. Ferry berths, container ports, yachts. This port is mega.

We are received like the lost but now returning son. “Ahh, Ronja,” they say, as we call the harbour office in advance and tell them, that we are arriving. “Ahh, Mister Westergaard,” they say, as we enter the harbour office. We have already a couple of months ago agreed with the harbour office in Genoa, that Ronja shall spend the winter from October 1st to late March, so we have been writing together and agreed on price and conditions through numerous emails prior.

Genoa is not a beautiful city. It’s a rough town, with its poverty, and its most worn buildings facing the harbour. There are no showy facades with upscale restaurants. Here are halal butchers, souvenir shops, beer bars, dubious electronics stores plus a jumble of street vendors selling umbrellas, selfie-sticks and copies of Gucci-bags and Rolex watches.

The port population has a conspicuous large percentage of immigrants from Africa. The neighborhood is a complex network of alleys, narrow streets lined with five-storey buildings on each side, where the sun never reaches the street level. Worn. Dodgy. Prostitutes on street corners. The waste flows. Unsafe after dark.

This does not mean that the city has no beautiful buildings. In between we find the most stunning and beautifully renovated palaces and cathedrals.

San Lorenzo Church in Genova is beautiful!

It is a city, you have to work with. Only when you reach deep into the city, you find its beauty, charm and nuances.

Ronja has had winter harbour in Marina Porto Alto for nearly six months and each time we visit Genoa, our respect for the city is increasing.

When one day we inadvertently wander into a suspect tunnel for cars, we happen upon a rickety elevator, take it up and suddenly find ourselves in a wonderful space with roof gardens and magnificent views of the port area of Genoa.

When we look for genuine Italian cuisine, we find lots of good options. Taverna Di Colombo is small, good and cheap. The host plays jazz and Leonard Cohen and serves a heavenly minestrone soup.

In Genoa we also meet interesting and nice people from the British yacht “Red Rooster” – Derek and Claire – who have chosen to go “all in” on sailing in the Mediterranean. They have sold their home in London, said goodbye to good jobs and have now spent two years full time aboard”Red Rooster”.

We met them earlier along the italian coast, and it was great to see them in Genoa. The first evening they invited us to “Red Rooster” with beer, chips and exchange of experiences among sailors. The next evening they came to Ronja and we continued the exchange of experiences on sailing and in particular the considerations of whether a new boat would fulfill the dream of “the perfect boat” or in fact small changes on your own boat could be as good as an expensive, new boat.

Interestingly Claire had been a headmaster in her civilian life in England, just like Kirsten had in Denmark. Both have very recently left school management positions. Kirsten in her early 60s. Claire in her final 30s.

Now it’s April. A new season is upon us. We clean the boat, we get a diver to scantily clean the screw, cooling water intake and bow thruster. “Mamma mia,” he says, after he has been below Ronja with brush and scraper. Six months in winter port leaves its traces.

New foresail and main sail. Yeahh!

We raise our brand new sails from North Sails and set out for new adventures.

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