Italian normality in Genoa?

Dave leaves a gap, one second later it's filled

Dave the motorhome is breathing a huge sigh of relief at a free car park on the road from Camogli to San Rocco (N44.33245 E9.16547). We’ve all had quite a day and are loving the peace and quiet here.

Jay has set a challenge.
I’m not allowed to use the following words in this post – as they are key to the day we’ve just had:
rain, traffic, nail-biting, underground and manic!

Last night was cold. Just frosty cold, but perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to turn the heating off before we went to bed. The weather forecast had been for showers, so we figured we’d be kept warm by the overnight cloud cover – unfortunately they didn’t arrive until 10am this morning. I struggled to sleep. It was toasty (if a little heavy) under our duvet, two sleeping bags and blanket, so partly it was making sure Charlie was wrapped up. It was also partly due to the church bells in Italy rather sensibly chiming the hour twice (a few minutes apart) in case you missed the first round and wanted to know the time. The first chimes woke me, then I felt obliged to listen to see what time it was – surely it’s not supposed to work like that. Anyway, I heard 10pm, 11pm, Midnight, 1am, 3am and 5am before waking at 8am – grrr!

At 8am the sun was shining and we were looking at another lovely day, but by 10am as were about to set off the clouds had gathered. Dave decided this was just reason to turn on his windscreen wipers – even though the stick was in the off position. Something had shorted out but after a look around in the engine and at the fuses we couldn’t work out what. You’d think life in the passenger seat is easy, and I wouldn’t for one minute want the glory of the helm, but it can be tricky. In addition to navigating, disagreeing with s*atnav, taking photos, watching out for height and width restriction signs and keeping Charlie from under the pedals – I was now in charge of operating the wipers by means of taking the fuse in and out.

Windscreen wiper operation – Dave style

Our destination was Genoa (or Genova as it’s called locally). Jay will have arms like Popeye by the time we leave Italy due to all the twisting roads and as we pirouetted our way to the coast I gazed over at the raised up, tunnelling and straight toll road. The key word there being Toll. We’d no idea how much they would cost and besides the little villages we were passing through were only slightly on the narrow side in places.

Twisty roads mean different speed limits for different vehicles – Dave of course is limitless!

Reaching Savona we arrived at a stereotypical Italian scene. Cars parked at every angle, double parked generally where least convenient – seems if you have your hazard lights on you can stop anywhere –  scooters squeezing between any gap wide enough for a sheet of paper and those that aren’t parked were trying to create extra lanes between the ones that were marked out on the road. Jay switched into ‘Morocco Driving Mode’ – ultra high awareness and a bit of a bully (after all we are bigger than most vehicles on the road!).

We rounded the small harbour to find a cruise ship docked, it’s decks towering over the surrounding buildings, then all too soon we were out of there, working our way along the packed coastal road as Charlie decided it was whine time! We’d read about a municipal motorhome parking place in Arenzano, so with visions of a nice marked off area where we could leave Dave and catch the train to Genoa for the day we headed there. Arriving we found a busy car park. I went out for a walk around to see if the motorhome area was nearby, but it wasn’t, it looked like this was it. The charge was €1.50 an hour, so if we planned to stay it would be €18 (assuming we managed to get up and leave before 8am) plus the train tickets. Needless to say, we carried on – just as we did, the heavens opened, so I stuffed the fuse back into the dashboard and got on with my other duties.

Not sure how you are supposed to take in all the information signs at junctions

We’d had a tip off for a parking place in Genoa by the festival ground (thanks Glen) but we missed the turn off onto the monstrosity that is a raised up dual carriageway that runs along the shoreline of the city. It looks awful, but seeing how packed it and the road below was I can’t imaging how the city functioned before it was built. Our wrong turn took us into a large car park for delivery trucks tucked away between tall buildings in a port area. Jay and Charlie jumped out for a look around while I worked with the maps and satnav to get our bearings. Next to Dave was a lorry trailer, and next to that another motorhome with a pipe coming out of the bottom of it. Curious Jay went to explore closer only to spot someone in it. As he retreated his ears were filled with what we can only assume were colourful Italian phrases – sometimes it’s a good thing when you don’t know what’s being said (and the pipe, it looked like he was running his grey water straight into the local drain next to him so no doubt was planning on stopping there for a while). Not liking the feel of the place and unable to get back onto the elevated road we wound our way underneath it – the lanes of our carriageway splitting up to make way for the pillars supporting the road above.

Finally we reached the fiesta area, a huge open parking area sat before us. But it was all fenced off. A handful of buses occupied the first few bays, then open tarmac. We pulled in and were stopped at the ‘cash desk’. Yes we could park here, but it closed at 8pm, so no sleeping. Almost as if it didn’t want us to park up the weather got worse, so we turned around and set off towards a sign I’d seen on our way through town for Camper and Bus parking at Marina Park. This time we made it onto the elevated road and after a kilometre we were sent off down a narrow ramp, almost like a fun fair ride, into the a subterranean world of parked cars. Either side of the ramp were layer upon layer of them all lit by the orangy-yellow of the world-wide standard in car park lighting, it was like something from a sci-fi movie. Our ramp took us down a few layers then spat us out back into the middle of the mayhem.

Another loop around and we made it to Marina Park – our saviour! But hang on, there’s a 2m height barrier on the entrance. Things didn’t look good. This time Jay went for a scout around while I sat in Dave (without hazard lights) pretending to read the map. That’s it, we surrender – Genova/Genoa you beat us. All that remained was to see if we could get anywhere near to the Cimitero Di Staglieno, another recommendation from Glen, it’s a massive cemetery which was once outside the town but has now been all but enveloped by it.

Dave leaves a gap, one second later it’s filled

More mayhem, several circles around and we found a space – sort of. It was partly blocking someone’s drive, so Jay wrapped up and set off camera and umbrella in hand, while Charlie and I guarded Dave (and shuffled him forward and back as required). Just over an hour later Jay returned. He would have loved to have spent longer in there and I would have loved to have gone in, but we were both shattered from our Genoan experience – and even the lure of a minibus to take you around (yes it’s that big) didn’t work.

Miles and miles of tombs and memorials all beautifully crafted

Satnav programmed we headed for a free parking place along the coast, only this time we treated ourselves to the Toll road. It was possibiliy one of the best €1.70 we’d spent in a while as we whizzed our way through tunnels high above the coastal road. It only took 30 minutes to reach our parking for the night, which included a dosy-do with an old lady in a car (she almost backed into a wall to let us through) – I told you Jay had got his Moroccan bully driver head on.

Looks like there’s some sunshine over there on the horizon

Arriving at the free parking we were in another world. Three Italian motorhomes were already here and the view along the coast is amazing. We walked up to San Rocco. Jay nipped into the church and almost ended up as part of the 4.30pm mass. A walk along the coastal path showed sunlight on the horizon, a break in the clouds? Maybe tomorrow will be a bit less damp.

The view from our parking spot for tonight proves a bad day can end well!

Right now it’s dark outside, the wine is open (Lidl’s squarest!) and the stress of the day is slowly slipping away as Jay cooks up a chicken dinner with roast spuds. I’m not sure I can face any more Italian cities – perhaps we need to devise another plan of attack for them.

Ju x

PS – I think that’s the challenge successfully completed!



  1. Sorry the parking didn’t work out in Genoa but I did throw in the disclaimer that the info was dated ! At least you had a glimpse of the cemetery although I am doubting it was worth all the hassle to get there. Will zip it in future!

    • Haha! Please don’t stop with the help, although driving around Genoa didn’t end up with us actually seeing the old town, it was an experience nevertheless. I was buzzing when we finally got out of the place in one piece. We got a close-up look at the incredibly messed up Italian traffic situation, far too many cars and far too small a space, and actually saw a fair bit of the newer city albeit from the road. I spent about an hour in the cemetery, which of course meant I saw only a fraction of it, but it reminded me of San Michele island in Venice. Generations of an entire city laid to rest, with the living using the opportunity to build monuments to either (a) out pour grief (b) their own family egos or (c) I can’t think of a c. Cheers, Jay

  2. Good evening travellers!
    I’ve send you an email with attachments… 7MB. Hope you can download somewhere… So you will have an idea what you’ve missed travelling further south and leaving the snow behind you. But to be honest, it is warmer now and we enjoy the bright autumn again…
    All the best

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