“A Summer in Genoa” might also be considered a travelogue as so many exquisite scenes of the city of Genoa are presented, as the newcomers explore their new surroundings, looking forward to their upcoming adventures.


Colin FirthCredit: Wikimedia Commons

                                                                Colin Firth - Wikimedia


The movie begins in the United States, however, where Joe (Colin Firth) and Marianne (Hope Smith) are raising their two daughters: sixteen-year-old Kelly (Willa Holland) and ten-year-old Mary (Perla Haney-Jardine).  On an outing one day, the girls played a game in the car, whereby one had to guess the color of a passing car while the other covered the guesser’s eyes.  In a playful moment, Mary covered the eyes of her mother who was driving, and in the split second when Marianne was unable to see, the car was in an accident.

Mary has Nightmares

Mary had a difficult time sleeping, often waking and screaming for her mother.  Joe was so compassionate in hugging Mary and lulling her back to sleep.  Joe, a college professor, learned that he could obtain a temporary teaching position in Genoa, Italy for a year.  Genoa is directly on the Ligurian Sea which is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea.  Joe realized that the change of scenery might be the best opportunity for the girls, as well as himself, to heal the hurt that had been thrust upon them.


Willa HollandCredit: Wikimedia Commons

                                                               Willa Holland - Wikimedia

Their Travel Plans are Underway

Barbara, a former classmate of Joe’s at Harvard had suggested the position to Joe.  She herself planned to teach there for a year.  They had dated during their college days, but it was nothing serious.  Since Joe’s wife Marianne was a music teacher, Kelly and Mary studied piano and would have the opportunity in Genoa to continue their studies under an expert musician.  Barbara was able to find them an apartment close to the university, so the transition was comparatively easy.  The girls would have a free summer before school started for them in the Fall, but Joe would be teaching a summer course in English literature at the university.

A Tour of the City of Genoa

Arriving in Genoa, the family took what appeared to be an actual tour of the city, and it was breathtaking to see the sixteenth century buildings and the narrow streets of the old European setting.  We were reminded on the tour that Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, and that Marco Polo was imprisoned in Genoa.  St. George is the patron saint of England as well as of Genoa; therefore, the English flag is flown in Genoa.

Kelly Makes Friends in Genoa

In such a romantic setting, sixteen-year-old Kelly became acquainted with a local Italian teenager named Lorenzo, and made dates with him without telling her father.  Lorenzo gave her rides on his motorcycle and invited her to parties where the guests smoked pot.


Hope SmithCredit: Wikimedia Commons

                                                                  Hope Smith - Wikimedia

The Girls Start Their New Adventures

Mary still had flashbacks of the accident which killed her mother, and in addition she had visions of her mother comforting her when she awoke at night.  The girls had their music lessons daily to which they could walk.  When Kelly finished her lesson, she was able to leave for an hour to meet Lorenzo, and then come back to walk home with Mary.  It was frightening to see them walking through the narrow streets where sometimes they were verbally harassed by the local males.  Mary sometimes had to walk home alone if Kelly did not show up in time.  The suspense of seeing that young girl make her way through the narrow streets alone was overwhelming.

Colin Firth - the Perfect Choice

Colin Firth was the perfect choice to be cast as Joe.  He was so solicitous of the girls, and had to learn a great deal after the death of his wife.  He cooked their dinner, kept an eye on their activities, and put them first in all of his plans.  I was quite taken with his goodness as well as his handsome looks.

Joe has Opportunities for Romance

One of Joe’s summer students, Rosa (Margherita Romeo) was obviously romantically interested in her professor, and invited him for coffee with the group, and aggressively sought his friendship, which Joe was not against.  His former classmate Barbara sought him out also, and appeared to want to renew their friendship on a more intimate basis.  She toured the city with them, and took Mary into a church several times when Mary wanted to light a candle for her mother.  She was also invited to the girls’ piano recital towards the end of summer.

It became clear, however, that Joe was not interested in Barbara’s advances.  When she seemed to be giving advice to him about the girls, or about his relationship with his students, he became angry and said he did not need her advice.  On the other hand, Rosa took him to a lonely rocky spot over the ocean, where they shared a kiss.  That was quite a surprise.


Perla Haney-JardineCredit: Wikimedia Commons

                                                                  Perla Haney-Jardine                                                                                                                                                 Wikimedia

Kelly and Lorenzo are Discovered

An unfortunate incident occurred when Mary had to walk home from her music lesson alone.  When she returned to the apartment, Kelly and Lorenzo were in Kelly’s bedroom, never dreaming that they would be discovered.  Kelly was furious at her sister, and threatened her if she would tell their father.

Another Accident

Once when she and Lorenzo went to the beach for the hour that she was allotted while Mary had her music lesson, Lorenzo did not want to leave the beach to take her back as he had promised.  For the first time, Kelly saw through Lorenzo, was able to get a motorcycle ride from his friend, and went to look for Mary.  Jo was also looking for Mary when he learned that she had to walk home alone.  Mary imagined that she saw her mother across a large thoroughfare.  She wanted badly to go to her, but the cars were racing by at a rapid pace.  Jo and Kelly, coming from different directions, spotted Mary as she was caught in the middle of the thoroughfare, trying to get to her mother.  A car had to weave out of her way and crashed into another car.  Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt, but the incident was terrorizing for Mary, as well as for Joe and Kelly, as it brought back the accident they were all trying to put behind them.

As the summer came to an end, the girls had to get ready for their new adventure, their first semester at a new school in Genoa.  Their summer fling was over and perhaps their studies would help the healing process along as they came together as a family once again.

Fodor's Italy 2016 (Full-color Travel Guide)
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