I know I say this about every place I go, but this time it’s for real: I could totally live in Genova. Stepping off of the train at Stazione Brignole is tantamount to stepping into a glutton’s paradise. Nearby is the Mercato Orientale, a huge covered market selling produce, tripe with beans, butchered meat, dried fruits, and fresh fish. Strolling among the stalls gives me the same warm and fuzzy feeling I get in Palermo’s Ballaro’, Naples’ Pignasecca, and Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar.
From what I gathered earlier this week on my first visit to Genova, things are even better around Holy Week when bakeries sell all sorts of treats for Easter. Once upon a time, Quaresimali (almond paste cookies), colombe (dove-shaped sweet breads), and Easter egg cookies would be eaten sparingly, if at all, until the end of Lent. This is no longer the case. Genovesi are already gorging themselves on these seasonal treats. I had no choice but to follow their lead.
For a spongy colomba, I went to the famous Pandello on Via Galata near Stazione Brignole. Apparently everyone who is anyone in Genova gets their sweet Easter bread here. A short walk away in Piazza Colombo, Easter cookies have hard boiled eggs cooked into them in an olive branch burning oven at Panificio Manzella.
On Via Soziglia in the centro storico, Pietro Romengo fu Stefano is known for their almond paste Quaresimali and hand crafted chocolate confections like Easter eggs, fish, and bunnies. Next door at Klainguti, they offer an assortment of Quaresimali with the added bonus of serving coffee and tea.