Visitors to Chiavari Keep on Coming

June 20, 2022

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May and June so far have been filled with new friends and old, lovers of Liguria and followers of Take Me Home Italy. For me, it has been exciting to share my Italian hometown with others.

The weather has been cooperating as I meet and greet all the guests here. One of my friends recommended to her friends in Parma to visit me when they arrived in Chiavari. 

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Rita Prigioni and Larry, her husband, spent 11 glorious days in Chiavari and hiking around it. We met at one of my favorite coffee spots in centro storico. 

Rita and Larry were a joy to meet. They planned to return to Chiavari again as it stole a piece of their hearts. We enjoyed coffee together so much that we decided to stroll to the lungomare, the seaside walkway, together while I shared more experiences they could enjoy on their next visit. We talked about what’s happening in the USA, how life is so different living in Italy and about our hopes and concerns for the future. 

When we reached the area by Lord Nelson’s Pub, we were all hungry. We shared a fabulous meal, their last in Chiavari for now, as we laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. We did not say goodbye as we parted. We said ci vediamo presto,, we’ll see each other again soon.

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Here’s a sample of a meal at Lord Nelson’s. It is creamed Baccala with a salad. It was so good. It tastes NOTHING like that Baccala we ate in Minnesota on Christmas.

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Speaking of seeing each other again, my friends Ann and Raul returned to Chiavari for another week of bliss. 

We shared time together a few different days while they explored Chiavari and surrounding areas. Our last meal was on the lungomare.

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We three enjoyed the sea view while sharing our last meal before they left. They will be back this Autumn.

Just because new people are arriving to explore Chiavari does not mean I avoid my local friends. My vicina, my neighbor, Alessandra, and I met for coffee as we often do. She is a wonderful woman studying English. Our conversations are in both English and Italian. I am so happy we met.

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Alessandra and Me after coffee and ginseng.

My next visitors and I have been attempting to get together for months. They finally nailed me down to a date and we actually met in person. The first time they visited Chiavari at my suggestion, I was out of town. Now we can enjoy it together.

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Ilene and Gary Modica sharing a traditional meal with me at Luchin in Chiavari. (Ilene’s photo)

I met Ilene and Gary at the train station in Chiavari. I would have sworn we had already met in person. They reminded me that I was in the USA when they visited on their 1st one year visit to Italy. We have chatted so much on line and we follow each other’s blogs that I felt as if I already knew them. They enjoyed what they saw of Chiavari last time but were disappointed that the Cathedral was closed. It was open today as we passed. We enjoyed the incredible baroque interior together.

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View as we entered (ceiling above altar is under construction.)

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Chubby Cherubs

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Exquisite Art and Architecture

Ilene remarked that this church could be the most beautiful that they had ever seen. It is definitely worth a visit.

After the church we headed into the center of town and we talked about the market and the portici, the many diverse archways we can walk beneath and how many were originally formed to add tax free space to homes and businesses above them. Since the ground floor was not on the ground, it was not taxed. 

When we were seated at Luchin, I shared the history of the restaurant and guaranteed that they would enjoy it. We sat outside. I had such a good time talking with them, hearing their life stories, especially Gary’s, that I mostly forgot to take photos of the food.

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I did manage to photograph Gary’s luscious Caponata. Doesn’t it look delicious?

All three of us are working on books. Gary and Ilene have already published one. Ilene shared some of the learning process they went through with their first and shared with me some options to make it easier. I wish them well in their next book. We’ll need to critique each others’ books when done. 

You know, I really did enjoy my time with Gary and Ilene. They seem to be really good people. I treasure meeting others who love Italy as I do, who are honest and fun and open to new ideas. Also, I cannot tell you how rare it is that people share information when they will not benefit from it. Thanks to both. Now it is my turn to set up a time to visit them!

One of my friends, Maria Gauci, and her cousin Grace, visited Chiavari for a swim and a meal. I skipped the swim time, but we met by the sea. I must mention that we in Italy are finally beginning to use the baci e abbracci greeting once again. That is the kiss by the cheeks or on them and a hug. Covid took that from us. It is not back for the most part. Maria, Grace and I hugged as did others I met with these last days. It is a big deal to me.

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The three of us ate inside Ca’ de Pria dei Caruggi in centro storico.

Again, I forgot all about photos. The food here was phenomenal. This Pinsa Romana was even better than the once I tasted near the beach. Grace tried one with pear slices and gorgonzola cheese I believe. I will order that one next time. Each one was delightful but that one was the flavor of summer. 

Grace is a native Italian and even though my friend Maria grew up here (mostly) from about age 4 to age 15, she is more Italian by life function than American. But she is not a dual citizen. It has been a pleasure getting to know her better and better and to get to know another Italian like Grace. Next time I will take photos.

Shortly after seeing Maria and Grace, my friend from Florence, another American woman who has chosen to live in Italy, came to town.

Susan and I met a while ago. She was a friend of a couple of my friends. Now I hope I can call her a true friend.

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Susan and I searching for a good meal.

The first time I met Susan, her hair was tinted purple. I knew immediately that we would be friends. Susan is definitely a foodie as well as a very good chef. She has studied with several chefs, including my friend Judy Witts Francini. Last time she studied in Genoa with one of the great chefs. I cannot hold a candle to her when it comes to food. I did introduce her to Lord Nelson’s Pub and their excellent cuisine last time. This time she introduced me to a new spot on the lungomare with the lightest, tastiest calamari I have eaten in ages. 

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Calamari that was so very good, especially with a side of a Mojito which was also excellent.

We closed that place down while talking politics, art, food, people, life in Florence and more. We watched the sunset and still we remained. 

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Even though that evening together was fabulous, the highlight of her visit this time, I believe, was traveling to Camogli together. Outside of Chiavari, Camogli is one of my favorite towns in Liguria. I knew a restaurant there that I thought she would enjoy. I have been to Camogli several times. But seeing the city through another’s eyes, tasting food and drink on another person’s schedule, opens me up to other ways of seeing, thinking, loving this town.

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We wandered down from the train station, enjoying the view from above first.

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Narrow, colorful side streets entice us to explore further.

We chose, after a long time  of wandering, to enjoy a beverage or two and just enjoy the intense colors of the sea.

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The shades of blue call me to enter. Instead, I chose a special coffee.

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Here’s my affogato, a coffee drink with gelato—sometimes alcohol.

As we watched the sea and I had gelato for breakfast, I found I was still thirsty. Susan was raving about her lemonade. She had another and I joined her.

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So refreshing!

We spent so much time talking and relaxing that we were late for our lunch reservation at Xodo’, a restaurant by the seaside in Camogli that I had found on another visit. We began our meal with lightly fried anchovies and a plate of panissa, a light garbanzo meal bread. Of course, we imbibed in local Vermentino white wine. 

By the time I took this photo there was only one piece of panissa remaining.

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Note the breading---it is so lightly breaded that the flavor of the anchovies sings through it.

Our main courses:

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Susan enjoy the excellent trofie pasta with Genovese pesto.

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I devoured the Pansotti, a ravioli filled with borage (greens) and covered in a walnut sauce that is out of this world. 

We sat at our table at about 1:30 PM and left it after 3 o’clock. 

This experience in Camogli was all about the food and the sea views.

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We lost time simply watching the fishing boats and tour boats gently rock on the sea.

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We admired the fishing village décor wherever we walked.

That is how a place can get under your skin, into your soul. This is the key to traveling for many of us. Take our time, eat with locals, share our thoughts with one another and enjoy moments of silence. Use your senses to take it all in. Smell the salt sea breeze flavored by pesto. Gaze at the variations of blue in the water and the light dancing off it. Sample new foods and beverages. Listen to the wind and the waves. Feel the texture of the wall beside you or dip your toes in the water.  It all adds to your experience. 

Thank you, Susan, for sharing time with me in Camogli and in Chiavari. I really enjoyed getting to know you better and discovering that we are kindred spirits. 

Now, I am wondering who will be visiting Chiavari next. Are you coming this way? Until we meet, enjoy the good moments of life and let the others fade. Dream of Italy. Dream of Chiavari and Liguria.

A dopo!

Ciao for now!

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