Genoa – The Birthplace of Christopher Columbus, Blue-Jeans and The Ice Cream

Genoa – The Birthplace of Christopher Columbus, Blue-Jeans and The Ice Cream

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Portofino Bay - Genoa, Italian Riviera
Portofino Bay – Genoa, Italian Riviera

As the oldest capital of one of the maritime republics, Genoa nowadays belongs to the “Industrial Triangle” with Milan and Turin, and it’s one of the main ports in Europe. It’s symbol is the lighthouse of the old port known as “La Lanterna” (the lantern).

 

Famous also for being the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, Genoa is a melting pot and an important center for culture and scientific research.

The name “Genoa” comes from the loyalty to the roman empire: Janus was the double-faced god of the roman’s paganism, and Genoa, which looked the mountain from the back and the sea from the front, was called in this way, rendering homage to the god.

 

A Few Words of History

Genoa was led for about eight centuries by many types of government: republic, oligarchy, dukedom, and doges. The neutrality led the republic to fund a commercial empire that controlled the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, from Iraq to Palestine and from North Africa to the Spanish coasts. Genoa was able to control the economies of important empires: Swabia, of the Habsburg and Byzantine, until the rise of Napoleon that conquered the republic and looted the Bank of San Giorgio, the national institute and the eldest bank in the world.

The flag of the Republic is the famous Union Jack, used nowadays by the Royal Navy. In 1190, due to its authority in the Mediterranean Sea, the King of England asked the permission to the Doge to hoist the genoan flag on his ships to prevent the pirates’ attacks.

 

What to see in Genoa

The old city of Genoa is a must-see, with its narrow alleys (carrugi) and little squares; one of the most famous areas is named “Boccadasse”, with its multicoloured boats and the long promenade, sprinkled with ice cream kiosks. Another interesting spot is the fountain of Piazza De Ferrari, the core of the town. And don’t miss a visit at the Aquarium, the second largest in Europe, built in the Expo Area in 1992 and inaugurated for the Colombian Celebrations 500 years after the journey of the famous navigator who discovered the New World.

In the suburbs there are two locations, Nervi and Pegli, respectively the Gates of the Eastern and Western Riviera.

The Palazzo Ducale, old headquarter of the Lords of the city, now a cultural center, is worth a visit; the old port and the Carlo Felice’s Theatre, damaged during the World War II, was restored in the 90’s.

The Promenade Anita Garibaldi a path through the rocks above the sea, is absolutely wonderful. It leads the visitor along the three villas, Grimaldi-Fassio, Serra-Saluzzo and Gropallo, which are all connected to create a stunning park.

Witnesses of the ancient role of the city, Genoa has many forts: Forte Diamante, Forte Begato, Forte Tenaglia, Forte Giuliano, Forte San Martino, as well as others.

Some of them are totally abandoned, while some were transformed into cultural centers or used for the rock concerts and other musical events.

Ever wonder where the ice cream came from?

Genoa is the homeland of the Italian habit of aperitives, of the blue-jeans (jeans comes from Genes, the french name of Genoa), the national game of lotto (a national lottery). The Genoans are also considered the inventor of the ice cream.

Genoa is the native country of the Italian pesto, a kind of sauce for pasta obtained by mixing pine kernels, garlic, pecorino cheese, basil and olive oil; moreover, it was the homeland of soccer in Italy. James Spencer, a British doctor, founded the Genoa Cricket and Football Club in 1909, a legendary team that won nine Championships and one National Cup after the World War II.