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Genova Summer 2009
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
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After five years of living with an Italian girlfriend, my Italian was ok. I could understand bits of conversations so I didn't feel completely lost during long Italian meals. When Eliot was born, Ilaria began speaking in Italian to him in the hopes that he can speak with the Italian half of his family. The last thing I want is to have my kid grow up speaking things to his mom that I can't understand, so I decided to give my Italian a boost.
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Most of the Italian classes I could find were in Rome and Florence. I'd been to both of those places, so I decided to take some private Italian lessons at a school in Genova. The classes were cheaper than in the touristy cities.

Genova is a harbor town that is built on a mountain. I like mountains, the sea, and it was a city I'd never seen before, so it seemed like a good pick.
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Since I was only going to be there for 5 days (didn't want to leave Eliot for any longer), I took 2 hours of private Italian lessons, and then I had the afternoon off to explore the city.
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Genova reminded me a little of Napoli, another Italian harbor town.
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They both had streets so narrow that it was hard to appreciate the architecture.
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Such as the famous Via Del Campo.
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Overall I wouldn't rank Genova very high on my list of Italian cities you should visit. It seemed a little too dirty and disorganised, and it was too easy to wander down the wrong road and find yourself in a sketchy dark alley lined with pimps and prostitutes.

I did enjoy taking the funicolare (i.e. a counter-balance subway that goes up-and-down a mountain; the car going down generates some of the force need to bring the car going up)
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to see the view of
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Genova from above.
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There was a nice little observatory
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and plenty of nice views of the harbor town.
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Based on a recommendation from Ilaria's aunt, Maria Rita, I went to the aquarium.
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It is one of the largest in Europe.
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I don't think it was as nice as the one in New Orleans, but it was pretty impressive.
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I paid a little extra to see a hummingbird exhibit, which was really nice.
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Overall all I don't think I learned that much from a week of private Italian lessons. But spending one week in Italy without Ilaria to help me find the right train, talk to the hotel staff, and order food gave my confidence a good boost. I was definitely talking more when I got back, and for that alone it was worth the trip.