La passeggiata a mare Anita Garibaldi, Nervi

This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series Ligurian Diaries

Slurp! Slurp! Slurp! The little pink tongue of my four-year old son licked everything of the last heavens of gelato. I had already finished my orange flavored gelato and could understand his desire to lick.

“Why ice-cream is so tasty here?”, asked he.

“Because it has less air, less fat and so it does not coat your tongue, therefore the flavors become intense”, I thought in my mind. But this could not be explained to a four-year old kid. So I said, “Because you are hungry and thirsty after a long walk, and you are eating the gelato at sea-side watching trains and aeroplanes and kayaks and sailboats.”

He thought for a moment and ran to look at the train pulling into Nervi Station. I pondered if the dramatic settings does enhance the gourmet value of food. I think yes, but only if that food is good itself.

 Nervi train station

Nervi train station

The train pulled in at the station of Nervi, Genoa. Few teenagers sprang out and went gaga over the sea, as the station is right at the sea, just above a lovely promenade called Passegiata Anita Garibaldi. A fat plump lady, who was sitting next to my chair smiled and waved bye to my son, as she boarded the train. We were at the station watching the trains which we invariably did everyday for three months of our stay there. When we had finished three trains, he(my son) would hop and walk with me all along the promenade. People knew our routine and they smiled to him every morning.

Nervi is a small up-market residential town that boasts of a seaside; not with beaches but rocky cliffs. This saves the sea from unending rows of sun umbrellas, crowd of sunbathing people and horde of tourists. However a two kilometer promenade called Passagiata Anita Garibaldi along its coastal side more than compensates for the beach.

Having ‘done’ three trains, we came out of the station, took right, went through a small tunnel, and in less than five minutes we were on the promenade of Nervi, called Passegiata Anita Garbaldi. The promenade is made lovelier by its brick flooring and the stone walls on the other side of the cliff,and it does not ruin the natural surroundings.

A few trains, some sail boats and kayaks and a few aeroplanes fill vistas of sea. An increased appetite can be satiated at a few kiosks offering good Italian gelato and Focaccia and Pasta with pesto, a specialty of Genoese Cuisine.

Wait! Someone is calling me. Is it you? You want to join me for this walk? You are most welcome dear reader. Ok, so as you come out from the Nervi train station, take right, cross a small underpass below the train line and you will be right here with me on the promenade. Now let us first go towards our right side.

Promenade of Nervi

Promenade of Nervi

There are plenty of benches all along the promenade.One can choose to have a seat in the sun or shade. A seat carved out of cliffs is my favourite towards this side of the walk.

There are many points where you can access the sea by steep stairs and reach to the rocky shoreline. Kids love climbing up and down these stairs. As today is the day just after a stormy sea-day, I will go to find the puddles lodged by the sea in rocks. I am going to spend a lot of time there with my kid. He will throw pebbles in it, then let the water settle down again and then try to find which pebble was his.

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Till then, dear reader, you can go for more of rocky excursions or sun bathing and do look out for pigeons sheltered in the nooks.

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Enough of pebble throwing! Let us climb back to the promenade.The promenade on this(eastern) side slopes down to a small beach. This part of the town is called Capalungo. Sundays brings out many families here for bathing, kayaking and sailing and it becomes very atmospheric. You can indulge in people watching on this end, in the bars and restaurants and at the beach, and let your kids accompany my son watch the team of children learning kayaking.

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Retrace your steps again on the promenade to go to the western end which has a small harbour. When you reach at the tunnel(where we came to the promenade from the train station), come out of the tunnel and pick your slice of Focaccia from a small bakery just outside the rail station. Its texture, taste and flavour is heavenly. In fact Focaccia is a popular food of Genoese region.

Come back on the promenade and take left now. This side of the walk is longer, more undulating and the cliffs are steeper.

Further ahead, a flight of stairs take you to the Parchi di Nervi. It is a big park with a lovely lawn, many trees and lovelier it is in spring, when thousands of roses bloomed in its rose garden. It has many Mediterranean species of trees and some exotics as well. But its Rose garden is loveliest.

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The rose-garden has many hues of pink and red and orange and maroon. Some flowers have two or more hues in it. Some of the rose plants are bushes and others are climbers. An arched passage is lined with rose climbers and bunch and bunch of roses blossom on it, hanging down to welcome all who pass through it. A railway track underneath divides the park in two and a bridge connects it. Kids will run to be on the bridge whenever a train came across to look at it change the tracks. Once my kid has seen his desired number of trains changing tracks and when I have had a fill of the roses, we will come down again to the promenade.

Well! So here we are back on the promenade. A lively bar is there quite down to the sea and young people enjoy their drink (and sea spray on stormy days). On days when the sea is stormy, it will, if not splash, surely shower you in the face even on promenade on this side.

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Continue your walk and you will reach at its westernmost part which has a small harbor.
Compliment your walk on promenade by taking a circuitous route through the town which has old apartment blocks converted from the old villas. A few villas are still there with intricate wrought iron grills and very well maintained greens. Walk along the orange laden tree-lined roads, up and down along the stairs and streets, and stop here and there to admire old villas and buy more of gelato.

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And, while enjoying the beauty of this small town, do not forget to lick the gelato from your face!

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