|About the Book|
On a warm afternoon in the autumn of 1860 the best, or rather the only, inn of Sestri-Ponente was full of people. Firpo, the host of the Albergo e Trattoria della Grotta, was little accustomed to such a crowd, except on Sundays and fete-days. As thisMoreOn a warm afternoon in the autumn of 1860 the best, or rather the only, inn of Sestri-Ponente was full of people. Firpo, the host of the Albergo e Trattoria della Grotta, was little accustomed to such a crowd, except on Sundays and fete-days. As this was only a simple Thursday, his sunburnt cheeks reflected a smile of satisfaction. Sestri-Ponente is situated an hours distance from Genoa, on the sea-shore in vincinanza del mare and on the grand route from Savona to Nice. Sestri, beside dock-yards for the construction of small merchant-vessels, which is its chief source of wealth, possesses also a fine beach where it is possible to bathe in safety. It has this one superiority over Genoa la superba which lacks sea-bathing. Genoa has all else- even her trees seem dwarfed near her stately edifices- she has a magnificent harbour, and if one is determined to bathe in the sea he can hire a boat to take him some distance from the quay, where the water is not full of all sorts of debris. Once in clear water a rope is tied around his waist, and he can seat himself on the steps fixed to the back of the boat. If he slip, the honest boatman draws him out of the sea, by the rope, at the end of which he looks like a new species of fish suspended on a hook. Those who dislike this method are at liberty to bathe in the saltwater of the port or in the marble bath-houses of the Piazza Sarzana- but to bathe where the beach is more or less rocky one must abandon Genoa for the fashionable Livourne, the charming Spezia, or the modest Sestri. The wealthier classes congregate at the former resorts. Sestri is patronized more by quiet people who wish to economize, who prefer a peaceful life to the distractions of the gay world, and the fresh sea-breeze to the feverish gayety and gossip of a crowded watering place.