Once again, I was feeling under the weather. But at times of feeling rubbish it’s sometimes when I surprise myself the most. I managed to find a health shop within the small shopping streets of Varazze and locate some Echinacea. I also managed a walk and decided on some beach tanning time, to coat myself in a pre-summer glow. An older man turned up amid the bikinis, taking off his shirt and leant against the fence. I relaxed on my sarong to his random singing notes splicing the serenity, with some nearby girls suppressing their laughter at the wannabe soprano soloist.
That afternoon my Romanian friend had swooped me up for an introduction to Italian shoe shopping. I walked into a massive store with blinkers on, fighting any urges to spend. The husband was in tow again, picking out potential pairs that came with a shaken head. He concurred and no purchases were made.
In the supermarket, they invited me to dinner. I took their offer and was driven to their home. The husband was too scared to pour me any wine, thinking that he had broken me earlier in the week. There were platefuls of sausage, and I tried one of each.
“You’ve only had two, have some more!”
My stomach had stretched to capacity. I managed to evade turning into a sausage, for fear of leaving the dinner table and falling flat on the floor.
“Have some cheese!”
I wanted to try just a taste from the three large slabs that were presented in the centre of the table. A chunk of each was carved of for me. I love cheese and I was in an overwhelming heaven of fullness and food-babiesville. I leaned back and tried to mention that the husband must be happy with all of the food.
“An Italian man without a belly is like a sky without stars.”
I could quite well settle into the Italian dining way of life, with my new found feeders.
Rom and the husband had recommended that I visit San Remo, potentially on the way to Monaco. I opted just for San Remo and caught the two hour train, in the morning. Before the Savona stop, there was an incident on the train involving a conductor and what I’m assuming was a ticketless man. She loudly mentioned ‘policizia’, keying into her phone; he just seemed to shrug. When the train did stop, he slunk off out down the stairs. Another affair was arising outside with two young men and different conductor. The train was delayed… and then it was delayed even more. A couple of passengers seemed peed off while the rest just accepted it, like it was a normal event.
Half an hour later and I was wondering if there was any point in me visiting San Remo, until the wheels started turning again. An older man commented about the retardo tren.
“Io non capsico Italiano.”
He started up his spiel about not having very good English, even though I could perfectly understand what he was saying. He moved from his train booth into mine, but was interrupted in conversation with me, by a wandering man who was spouting off about politics and looked a little bit like a pug dog. I listened in to the conversation between The Translator and Puggy, trying to improve my Italiano skills. Translator would try and talk to me, but Puggy would find something else to harp on about. Finally Puggy wanted to include me in the conversation, after being explained to that I was from NZ. He pulled out his ancient clam-shell cell with retractable aerial and pointed to it asking “Mobile telefono, Nouvelle Zealandia?”
The translator was quick to jump in, as I knew Puggy had wanted to know if there were mobile telephones in New Zealand.
“Si,” I replied nodding, using every inch of politeness not to pull out my smart phone and laugh.
“Yeeeeeeesss, yeeeeaaaassssssssss…….” he said mockingly, with a phoney British accent, exaggerating the nod in his head.
San Remo was known as ‘citta di fiore’, the city of flowers. When I’d left the looooooong tunnel of the train station, I walked down the pretty tree-lined streets, with little gardens of colourful flowers. My stomach was grumbling and not knowing where to go, I found this kooky little outdoor setting, where I snacked on old focaccia. Later on, I found piazzas of bustling cafes, in the afternoon sun.
On my walk the city had turned into this historic medieval maze, with winding staircases upwards and apartment style homes above and around tunnels that dove deep into the ground. I followed the site signs and ended up at a church on the hill. I followed my nose downwards and smiled at an older lady, who looked me up and down with a mean scowl, like I had called her vahjayjay face or something.
A young guy popped his head in my line of sight and smiled. I carried on walking. Later, when I was refuelling with a prosecco in the sunshine, this same guy had found me. He asked me something in Italiano.
“Io non copisco Italiano.”
“Are you alone?”
I looked around at the empty seats at my table.
“Ok if I be here with you now?”
“OK. Have a nice day.”
All of the other creepy old men could’ve taken a leaf out of his good-mannered book.
From there I saw a crouched man over a street grate, using a homemade contraption to try and fish a treasure out. I watched all of the other people watching him. Some would pass by twisting their necks like owls, others would just stop and stare until they’d had enough and carried on.
I meandered back to the station and thought it best that I visit a bathroom before the two plus however many hours train ride. I put fifty cento into a slot and a door unlocked for me. The whole room appeared as if it had been hosed down. On the wall it said that I was only allowed five minutes in there, on another sign it read that I would only be given ten pieces of toilet paper max. I felt sorry for those that felt poorly and maybe needed eleven, fifteen, or twenty pieces of loo roll. When I left, the door closed and I could hear water raining down from the ceiling.
Train timetable roulette allowed me to get home on time, that evening.
And so it nears its end… my two weeks on the Italian Riviera. But I still have one slice to go; where love-making filters through the hotel room walls and nearly rolls onto me on the beach, where I have the best pasta that makes me drool just thinking about it, and where I chew the fat of life with my personal tour guide in Milano.