It was an awfully rainy day in the otherwise lovely Genoa. It’s Italy after all. Warm, lively and sweet. It is a charming port town, all corners of which you can walk in half an hour. I had already seen every church and museum on my list, so the next stop was the Staglieno Cemetery I had seen so many pictures of. Pictures of gorgeous marble sculptures scattered around what looked like a forest.
I began walking amidst the resting souls, draped by the lush green of the cypress trees that smelled sweet and sour, like fresh oranges. The only sound I heard was the rain softly falling on my umbrella. As I kept on walking, families greeted me, “Famiglia Rossi” “Famiglia Qvaglia” Famiglia Cefaretti” Their names written on gigantic tombstones, surrounded by beautiful angels, quietly protecting them.
A strange feeling began to stir in me. A certain restlessness, a sense of change approaching within me. Before me was a set of stairs. I climbed to see the view from above. I can’t describe the beauty. I can’t quite capture in words what I felt. I simply cried. I cried out to my grandfather. I cried out to grandma’s sister. I cried out to my father’s mother. I cried.
Strange. As I looked out at the hills enveloping me, the clouds began to part and I felt the warmth of a gentle hug. My tears stopped falling along with the rain. When I walked down the stairs back to where the grass grew, dozens, and I mean dozens of pigeons flew towards me, all landing on my feet. I froze. I tried to understand the meaning of this sign… If it were a sign? In that very moment, I looked up, and my gaze met the gaze of the girl with birds (picture on the right)… Merely a bizarre coincidence? Perhaps. But I prefer to believe that it was my family, saying hello, reassuring me that they are still present in my life.
The Staglieno Cemetery with its graceful serenity ended up giving me a sense of belonging I had not felt before. We are so wrapped up in our own little minds that we miss the big picture… and that is we are not alone. Even in death, we are connected. We are a family.
We are loved.
For the rest of your time in Genoa, here are a few suggestions. Remember that all these sights are literally walking distance to each other.
TO SEE (around Piazza Matteotti)
San Lorenzo Cathedral (mid 12th century)
Palazzo Ducale (watch out for special art exhibitions)
Museo di Sant’Agostino (watch out for Madonna with Child by Pierre Puget)
Chiesa del Gestú (watch out for the works by Rubens)
Piazza De Ferrari (home of famous Teatro Carlo Felice, watch out for opera)
Porta Soprano (part of the 12th century city walls)
TO SEE (around Via Garibaldi)
San Siro Cathedral (4th century)
Palazzo Bianco (home of 13th-18th century European paintings)
Palazzo Doria Tursi (make sure to check out the courtyard)
Palazzo Rosso (neighbor to Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Doria Tursi)
Palazzo Reale (watch out for the Hall of Mirrors)
Aquarium at Porto Antico (largest in Europe, good for families with children)
Gran Ristoro (for the most delicious sandwiches)
Cafe Klainguti (for decadent pastries)
Gaia (for pasta, rustic)
Antica Osteria del Bai (for fish, gourmet)
Bar Degli Specchi (for drinks)