Well, it had to end sometime…and yet we managed to pack so much in, it felt like another whole week!
As you recall, we left off at the end of an incredible harp guitar exhibit and presentation – the first Genoa had ever seen. There, I met Carlos Pierini, the owner of that incredible Drasseg double-neck guitar. He mentioned having another harp guitar in the repair shop – something with a “half-moon” feature which didn’t make any sense to me. So the first thing the next morning, we took a short stroll over to his guitar store.
Here’s Carlos, with an interesting, unlabeled guitar
And here is the mysterious harp guitar – indeed, the entire thing in the shape of a man-in-the-moon! The fingerboard (and music) appears to come out of its mouth, while a flag and flagpole make the transition between heads. Jaci was ready to buy this for me, being partial to the half-moon motif (remember my original Miner Music logo?). But it was only in for repair. Carlos -weren’t you going to ask the owner for me?!
Unfortunately, no original label, but in this case, the previous owner’s replacement made it all the more appealing.
We next went on a leisurely tour down Via Garibaldi (or “Palace Row”…my term), a series of sumptuous palaces from Genoa’s golden age – led by Franco’s daughter Rosella.
You could peek or sneak into some of these. Here, Rosella is about to take us into the courtyard of one random choice.
Looking up as we traverse the entryway
And out again, into a beautiful courtyard with a waterfall grotto.
Across the street, a completely different, stunning palace. Rosella’s daughter Giulia (with Bebe) met us for lunch.
Up those steps to the foyer…many of these have been turned into apartments. Can you imagine living here? It sure beats our little entryway…
This one houses the preserved palace furnishings from centuries ago, with several floors housing a museum.
How the better half lived
Special concerts are sometimes given in the music room
I’m not sure how much restoration has been done, but this is the real thing
I hope you enjoyed these…it was right about now that the guard told Jaci that photography was not allowed! He then followed us for the rest of our visit, up floor after floor, only allowing us the rooptop garden to ourselves.
Rosella then left us to spend our final afternoon wandering and shopping.
The city doesn’t just get someone out to slap paint over the graffiti (even this great Unesco World Heritage Site is not immune) – they have to use professional trompe l’oeil artists to re-create the original stone or other textures.
No supermarkets – Fruit and vegetable stands spilled out of doorway after doorway in narrow, out of the way alleys.
Same with the fresh (or close) seafood. Remember our amazing multi-course seafood lunch on Day 4? Sylvia described the fishcakes as “made from baby fish before they get their scales.” I don’t know what the species is, but it must have been these little translucent guys.
A vast and horrific selection (though undoubtedly tasty) of various cuttlefish, squid and god-knows-what.
Say the secret word (that’s a Marx Brothers reference)… Delicious, but I hate it when the sword gets stuck in your throat.
Sylvia (our translator) met up with us for some help with shopping. It took us but one purchase – our first at this charming personal pottery maker/shop – to realize that one needs to set aside special time for shopping in Genoa. They take the custom of presentation and servicing the customer one-on-one very seriously. After 20 minutes of choosing a few items, the owner spent 30 minutes wrapping them beautifully from scratch. I am not exaggerating. Charming as it was, I had to learn entirely new rules of patience. Jaci (and I suppose all women) is clearly delighted by the whole experience.
Just about my favorite shop in the whole world was this confectioners (and a good thing too, as we were in their for well over an hour having our choices meticulously compartmentalized to individual size with freshly-cut paper, and placed in various customized-on-the-spot boxes, carefully wrapped, tied, then wrapped and lovingly tied again (x 4 packages total). A delightful, fascinating and mind-numbing procedure that the sole attendant must accomplish for, what – each of the maybe 6-7 customers a day she can squeeze into the day’s schedule?
But as I said, an utterly beautiful, original shop that has been in the same family for several generations (centuries).
Incredible details everywhere. Truth be told, I didn’t want to leave!
Our hard-won chocolates and candies were gifts for our hosts and friends back at Franco’s (right), where we would now have our last celebratory dinner.
As you can see from my demeanor, Enrico the wine merchant (not shown) had brought “the good stuff” – how could I resist? It was a pretty emotional evening on top of it all, as you can imagine. You remember housekeeper Marguerita (left) and Ljuba, the pianist (next to me). Between them is another classical virtuoso pianist friend, Giacomo Battarino. Rosella’s husband, Giorgio, is finally seen here to my right.
Another guest was new friend Giorgio Ferraris, with his own Gazzo. Giorgio – a lute and guitar performance scholar from Milan – hadn’t been able to attend the previous day’s exhibit, but was able to join us on the final night. We had much to talk about (he spoke excellent English), and not much time to do so.
Sadly, this was the end of our stay, as we would be up at dawn for the airport. We were last to leave, and, as hard as it a was for Jaci and I and many of our new friends and “extended family,” I think it was hardest on Franco – turns out he’s really just a sentimental old softy! Words cannot express our thanks, gratitude and love for this amazing man – friend, collaborator and supporter of the harp guitar world, and now, my dear friend as well.
But wait, there’s more! Join me next week for some amazing post-trip follow-up and harp guitar findings!
i wonder if Paganini ever played with a harp guitarist?