Walking in Genoa/Part 2

Authentic trattorias, grocery stores, focaccia... The second part of our itinerary

03-11-2013
The historic Drogheria Torrielli in Via San Bernar

The historic Drogheria Torrielli in Via San Bernardo 32 in Genoa: here you can travell around the world thanks to a thousand scents: spices, tea, precious coffee, jams, herbs... You only need some patience. (photo by Olivia & Marino, flickr)

see part one

After Via san Lorenzo, there’s the most ancient part of town, with alleys that are even more narrow. This is where you can discover some magical places such as Drogheria Torrielli (Via San Bernardo 32, +390102468359), which seems to come out of Paolo Conte’s Genova per noi: «in the shadows of their wardrobes they keep olive trees and old lavender». Here you can take a journey around the world just by walking from one shelf to the other: there are spices, tea, precious coffee, jams and herbs from every corner of the planet. You only need some patience to discover them.

Viganotti's praline

Viganotti's praline

The same patience you need when you visit Viganotti (vico dei Castagna 14, +39.010.2514061). According to official history, pralines were born in Brussels, and Belgians have done everything so that everybody would know this. In Genoa, however, we don’t agree with this. We’re just reserved and, in silence, we enjoy our own. Which are much better and more delicate than the French speaking ones. And among the many, excellent workshops that prepare them, Viganotti is certainly the most inspiring one. The pralines are displayed on large chestnut leaves, and they are chosen one by one so that only the perfect looking ones are put into the trays. It is worth the wait because the scent of the chocolate, first, and its taste, later, are a climax for the senses.

By the way: after all this walking around, where’s a good place to have lunch? We’ve almost got to the seaside, beyond Via Canneto Il Lungo in Vico Caprettari there’s Trattoria della Raibetta (a few tables, reservations are mandatory) the typical narrow and dark restaurant in the historic centre, in which the colour is given by the kitchen with its surprising dishes. For a sandwich or a cocktail paired with nibbles, there’s Caffè degli Specchi (salita Pollaiuoli 43, +39.010.2468193), if you enjoy a historic place, or, once you’re out of the caruggi, there’s Mentelocale Cafè (named after the homonymous newspaper focused on loisir and the surrounding area) which is on the ground floor of the imposing Palazzo Ducale.

Voglia di Pane's great focaccia (photo by doveviaggi.corriere.it)

Voglia di Pane's great focaccia (photo by doveviaggi.corriere.it)

I now realise that so far I haven’t yet mention an essential word for Genoa, that is to say focaccia. This word is used in other Italian regions too, but outside Liguria it is much less oily, less soft, less focaccia, that is to say. During the journey I’ve described, every hundred metre or so there’s a bakery where you can buy fugassa. For the best one, however, you need to go further away, to Albaro, a residential neighbourhood overlooking the sea in Levante. In via Cavallotti, at Voglia di Pane they serve it naturally leavened, without any lard and unforgettable. Two steps away there’s Boccadasse, the ancient marine area, which is, as no other similar place in the world, right in the heart of the city. It was here that Gino Paoli’s cat lived, and here that today still lives Livia, Salvo Montalbano’s eternal fiancée. There are many cafes where you can have a drink and stare at the waves till it is time for dinner.

If you go back to the centre, reserve a table at Le Cicale in Città, they serve delicate fish-based dishes and excellent meat too. Chef Matteo Costa proposes a menu that varies according to the market, but it’s worth trusting him. As an alternative, if you move to Sestri Ponente, you can find many creative dishes, also based on fish, at Baldin’s, thanks to starred chef Luca Collami. If you’ve still got the energy and time, leave for Ne (possibly the Italian town with the shortest name) where, with Lavagna at its back, Brinca offers a traditional cuisine, including pesto prepared with a mortar, and an unforgettable cellar.


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