We inaugurated the second week of travel with the computer that doesn’t start up ... We begin our ride in the rain once again, from Turin to Genoa, about 170 kilometers. We leave the busy city of Turin to enter in the hills of southern Piedmont, finding the sun, hidden by frequent clouds. We pass through the hills, in the midst of meadows and forests scattered between vineyards, gently drawn on the horizon.
Slowly and inexorably we ride the kilometers that separate us from the destination, to join the campers, who are waiting us for a sandwich pit stop in Ovada, 50 kilometers from Genova. On the restart we get a flat tire in less than 200 meters; we change the bicycle tube and we go. Our legs, relaxed after the break, are now very strict, and we are already short of breath: climbing the 400 vertical meters of the Turchino pass, the road, the wind and the fatigue paste our wheels on the asphalt and destroy our last energy reserves. In the last few kilometers uphill I’m in a slump, so I just follow Michele, who guides me safe and sound to the top. At the pass we reach a narrow tunnel, and, after the tunnel, the light: to welcome us, for the first time, the sea, blue and flat, waiting for us back there. We go with the flow on the descent to the coast, where we follow the coordinates of the navigator to the camp, above the city.
In traffic we discover a large number of palaces, churches and towers, among the houses or on the hills, that witness the great history of this city. Tomorrow at noon we will be received in the center of Genoa, where we will be accompanied on a visit to the Rolli’s Palaces, our new UNESCO site. Meanwhile, we settle in the camp and, among French tourists, we watch the World Cup.
We go into the seafront traffic, between cars stopped at traffic lights, until we reach the center, where we follow the indications sent by the head of the Museums Strada Nuova’s secretariat, Fiorangela Di Matteo, perfectly guided to Ducal Palace, where we pick up the permits and the map of the center.
In the square we meet Francesca, from radio Babboleo, she stops us for a brief interview. Later, with our bicycles, we go in front of Palazzo Rosso (Red Palace), in Via Garibaldi - the "New Road" - where we meet the regional councilor for culture and tourism Angelo Berlangeri, the city councilor for sport Stefano Anzalone and the director of Palazzo Ducale and responsible of Rolli’s Palaces, Pietro Da Passano, with whom we have a little talk about our trip, the Palaces and UNESCO.
Then the museum’s custodian Raffaella Besta leads us into the Red Palace, up on the roof, to admire the city. From here you can see everything: the hills, the harbor, the sea, the medieval old town with its bell towers, towers and domes immersed in a tangle of houses and narrow streets; below us via Garibaldi draws a clear line between the buildings’ roofs. Before starting the real visit we have lunch in the palace’s restaurant: museum’s treat, in spite of the proverbial Genoese avarice.
After lunch Raffaella takes us to visit the three buildings that compose the Strada Nuova’s museum system, Palazzo Rosso (Red Palace), Palazzo Bianco (White Palace) and Palazzo Tursi (Tursi Palace). Joined by the responsible, Tina Russo, they tell us the story of the Palaces, built in the second half of the sixteenth century by the nobility of the Republic of Genoa, who completely redesigned this part of the city, breaking the chaotic and cramped medieval labyrinth with high and refined palaces, beautiful on the outside and opulent inside. During the rich Republic period, with this massive urban intervention, they created a network of private palaces, which, randomly selected, had the honor and the responsibility of hosting important people visiting the city. By doing so, started a competition to excel in the royalty of the treatment, in the beauty of the architecture and the refinement of the decorations, such as an advertising for the coat of arms of the family.
Reaching the palaces’ streets, if you venture through the narrow streets, you are affected by the character of this city, which, in just few steps, from magnificent becomes horrible: from the luxurious facades of buildings to the degradation of the alleys, enriching the city with a hyperbolic contrast that seems the character of the Genoese people: with them you laugh so much, but sometimes those same laughs leave a sour taste.
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