On the Italian Riviera, just a little way east of Genoa, lies this little seaside town of Recco, which is famed for its invention of a kind of focaccia with cheese. It is not so well known as Portofino, which lies further east or places on the French Riviera like Nice, Cannes or Monte Carlo, which I passed as I travelled here on the train from Marseilles. But by the sounds of pleasure and the shrieks of delight from the children playing in the sea, it is a great place to be on a very hot summer day. Today the temperature was showing 32C on the screen outside the pharmacy, so cooling off in the sea is a necessity as far as I am concerned.
I have travelled here by train: the Eurostar direct from London to Marseilles, where I spend a day admiring the second city of France, walking round the old port and visiting some of the sights. Then I took the Thello train to Genoa passing through all those French and Italian Riviera resorts.
Genoa is another great port city. But it’s history is so different. The city was run for many years by wealthy families, whose mansions remain along Via Garibaldi, the main artery of the Strada Nuove (the ‘new streets’). These new streets are now over four hundred years old! I visited three of these residences, Palazzos Rosso, Bianco and Doria Tursi. They were full of great works of art, which the families had acquired, including paintings by Van Dyke, Rubens and Dürer. The Saturday I was there was the feast day of St John the Baptist, so when I popped into the cathedral of San Lorenzo there was a high mass taking place. I heard the introductory ‘Alleluia’ to the reading if the gospel, which was honoured with incense. Then the Bishop gave a homily. I left as the large congregation began to recite the creed, having appreciated how a different faith tradition expresses itself on a high and holy day. One of the last experiences of my weekend stay was a trip up the funicular from Piazza Zecca to the summit at Righli. Just by the ticket office crowds were gathering to vote in local elections, a reminder and echo of our own recent experience!
The following day another train brought me the eight stops from Genoa to Recco, where I am staying for a week. The photograph accompanying this blog is the view from my hotel room. The aim of this week is to relax, enjoy the local food, get some exercise by swimming and read some books. So far so good. I have just finished the latest in the Bruno series of detective stories by Martin Walker, set in the Périgord area of France. I had the first of my three swims today by 8am, and breakfast included fruit, yoghurt, cheese, croissant, and pastries, accompanied by cappuccino of course. Once this blog is finished it will be time for siesta! Then another swim and a stroll to a Trattoria for dinner.
One of the features of holidays in the twenty first century is being able to keep in touch with world news, in my case via the BBC app and the digital Guardian on my iPad. I believe in taking time to rest but not in being totally isolated from the world. I am, or try to be, world affirming, not world denying, even if some of the news is deplorable! One of the nice features of the BBC app is catching up on the good news stories of the week. And there is always the Guardian crosswords to do if the news gets to be too much to bear!
I hope you find time and space to be rested and refreshed so as to be able to re-engage with the world to make it a place which is good.