In the following blogposts I will talk about a beautiful city, where I have spent the summer vacations- Genova in Italy. Before arriving there, I have planned to visit different places, the first in the list was Porto Antico, an area regenerated by the plan of genose architect Renzo Piano, who gave to the old port a new meaning. The whole area is very interesting, with his Aquario, Museums of Sea, shops and restorants. But what impressed me the most were the hidden gems of the city, the long and rich history reflected in its urban fabric and architecture. As you follow the narrow alleyways (called caruggi), you discover the city through its palaces and churches, each of them with its own history, that show a city of great traders and entrepreneurs.
Being the main port in Italy and in the Mediterranean, throughout history Genoa has served as a gateway of civilisation, linking East and West. The city began its great era of expansion in the year 1000 and became a powerful maritime republic, who extended his commercial and military dominion over Mediterranean. Under Andre Doria in 1528, the Republic of Genoa reached the height of its power: this was the beginning of the “Century of Genoese”, with rich traders, extraordinary navigators, such as Cristofor Colombus, and merchant bankers who financed the Spanish empire. The wealth accumulated in the city during this period is materialised in rich palaces and churches, that are declared UNESCO World Heritage Patrimony.
During the modern era, Genoa was developed in an industrial city and a large port. Today it is a technological and innovation center. The beaches in the coast and the attractions in historical centre makes it a turistic destination.
After a long period of urban neglect in the Area of Old Port, the city undertook an important regeneration plan, designed by architect Renzo Piano. Here is located the Aquario, Museo del Mare, ex-Magazzini del Cottone where is located La Citta dei bambini e dei Ragazzi, the Bigo and la Bolla, together with many shops and restaurants.
I have posted about Aquarium in a previews blog post “Aquarium of Genova”. In the following Posts I will talk about the historic district, the narrow caruggi with the old churches, and the architectonic heritage of Pallazzi dei Rolli in Strada Nuova.
Darsena e il Museo del Mare
I will start my photography journey from Porto Antico, where the most significant place is Darsena. For centuries Darsena has been the commercial and military core of the city, the port of departure and arrival of cargo ships, and the shipyard for building and repairing the galleys of Genoese Republic. As part of the regeneration plan, here is located Galata, Museo del Mare, built in 2004, which presents the history of navigation from 15 century to the present days.
Designed by the spanish architect Guillermo Vasquez Consuegra, the museum is built in a former shipyard of 15th century, which has been transformed into a dock named Galata, after the name of a famous genoese colony in Istanbul. The museum takes the same name, and it surrounds the old building with a modern glass structure. It presents the maritime history, spanned in twenty-eight galleries in four levels, through multimedia installations with over 4,000 artifacts, including real-scale reconstructions of vessels, such as a 17h century galley, a 19th century schooner, and the deckhouse of an early 20th century ocean liner. The museum features exhibition galleries dedicated to various subjects related to maritime history, including those depicting the technical evolution of ships, the “ legendary” travels from Europe towards the Americas and the history of Italian diaspora, the life of Christopher Columbus, a gallery presenting rare historical atlases, the interior of a 19th century British yacht decorated with about 120 maritime paintings, and an interactive room into which the visitors virtually experience stormy sea in board of a lifeboat.
The third floor is almost entirely dedicated to the Memory and Migration, where 40 multimedia stations tell the story of Italian emigration by sea – from boarding the ship, through crossing the ocean to landing in America – and the recent wave of foreign immigration to Italy.
Piazza de Ferrari e Via XX Settembre
After Porto Antico, the main landmark in the city is Piazza de Ferrari, the historic and modern center of the city, built in the end of 19 century, in a period when Genoa became the main financial center of Italy. The square is open in the same time with Via XX Settembre, in 1901-1904, by levelling the hill of S. Andrea. In 1936 the square was enriched with a central fountain with a basin of 11 m in diameter, donated by Carlo Piaggio. The square is surrounded by main financial and political institutions built with an eclectic style: Teatro Carlo Felice, Palazzo dell’Accademia, Palazzo della Borsa, Palazzo del Credito Italiano, Palazzo della Navigazione Italia, and Palazzo Ducale. Il Palazzo della Borsa is the first Stock Exchange market, built with modern communications. The building has an architecture typical of the beginning of the 900’s, with her curved facade facing the square and a glamorous interior serving as the stock market. The building ceased its original function in 1996, being now available only for conferences and guided tours.
The best way to discover the Historic District is through their caruggi; a dense network of narrow streets, that leads into a small square with its church surrounded by other buildings. The streets and the exterior of palaces are simple, but the interiors are very rich with works of art, decorations and artifacts. They show the history of the city preserved in every detail.