Fri, July 13th, 2012 - By

Spotlight on Genoa, Italy

Genoa on the Mediterranean Sea is capital of the Liguria region and the largest seaport in Italy. Being the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, Genoa has a rich historic past and its architecture, World Heritage listed Old Town, art and music scene make it a very interesting place to visit. It’s also a major economic centre, together with nearby Milan and Turin, with banking, industry and other financial activities being very important for Italy. Like all good Italians, modern Genoese are football-crazy.

The Ligures were the original residents. The Etruscans built the original harbour and there is ample evidence of Greek occupation in the 6th and 5th centuries BC. Roman and Carthaginians also left their mark, especially around the San Lorenzo and Santa Maria di Castello areas. Genoa’s medieval gates are extraordinary.

The Renaissance period saw Genoa emerging as an independent city-state type of Maritime Republic  However, the Black Death brought about Genoa’s collapse, with Venice now dominating the Adriatic sea shores.

After successful alignment with the Spanish empire in the 16th century, another peak was reached and artists like Caravaggio, Rubens and Van Dyck were attracted to the city, not least due to the legacies of prominent city sons such as Christopher Columbus who donated large parts of their fortunes. Following an Austrian occupation in 1746, Genoa again declined, became the French Ligurian Republic and eventually grew into a major shipbuilding centre, seaport and maker of steel. As such, it contributed to the Italian “economic miracle”.

Genoa’s main sights include the grand Piazza De Ferrari with its monumental fountain, St. Lawrence Cathedral and the Doge’s Palace. The city’s vast historic centre in medieval and baroque styles is most impressive around via Garibaldi (the ancient via Aurea) and the square of San Matteo, with the 17th-century city walls very much in evidence.

Other landmarks include the 117m tall Lanterna (lighthouse), the very prominent Renaissance church Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta on the hill of Carignano and the Cemetery of Staglieno.

The Regional Natural Park of Beigua and the Acquario in the Old Harbour are lovely destinations for city walks. For day trips, the pretty villages of Nervi and Pegli are recommended.

Photo credits: Timothy Brown, Nathan Guy, Serge Melki, Rosemary Dukelow

Karen Bryan

As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save

Posted : Friday, July 13th, 2012 at 10:00
Category : Spotlight
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