National Geographic : 1963 Jun
Italian Riviera, Land That Winter Forgot with me. I'll show you where to find him." With Natale Galeppini, a businessman who made his home in Portofino, I went to lunch in Genoa. We chose a restaurant atop a sky scraper rising above the inferno of traffic in the piazza called Dante. "There lies all Genoa, in beautiful confu sion," Dickens had rightly observed. I looked almost straight down upon the site of Christopher Columbus's boyhood home, now surrounded by modern construc tion. Close by stood a 2,100-year-old column, a relic of Roman settlement. And less than a block away towered the medieval Soprana Gate (following pages). I gazed over a gray sea of slate roofs whose domes suggested reefs and whose steeples might have been buoys. Streets meandered like streams through deep, dark canyons into sunlit piazzas rich in fountains, churches, and palaces. Distant villas with terraced gardens climbed the steep hills that make the metropolis an enormous amphitheater. Its arena is the ship filled harbor. Around the port, Italy's largest, Genoa grew up. This city of 768,000 sea-minded souls is the geographical, historical, and logical capital of the Ligurian coast. It stands roughly midway along the Italian Riviera's 175-mile shore. "Geography," said Galeppini, "pushed the Ligurians into the sea. Their steep, rocky land was too poor for farming; they had to look elsewhere for food and livelihood." Genoa Gave the World Great Seafarers Galeppini explained that at first these peo ple were just small-scale fishermen, but in time they became real seafarers. There were adventurous navigators like Columbus and Andrea Doria, one of the 16th century's great est admirals and statesmen. Liguria's ships traded with the world, and the traffic made Genoa an important commercial center. Genoa today has huge shipyards and steel works, indirectly financed and controlled by the state. The city serves as the principal port for the inland industrial areas of Milan and Turin, and for much of Central Europe as well.* Some 10,000 ships turn around in the har bor during an average year. Genoa's thou sands of stevedores are dwarfed by up-to the-minute loading and unloading facilities. Though destroyed during World War II, the rebuilt and re-equipped port is now more ac- tive than in prewar days; so Genoa's busi ness is better than ever. This I realized as I squeezed through the crowded, shop-lined streets leading down to the harbor, or up to the more elegant levels of expensive stores, hotels, and restaurants. I passed outdoor markets selling fresh fish, fruits, vegetables, and flowers; watched iron mongers, carpenters, bookbinders; climbed dark stairways to see ivory carvers in one house, filigree workers in another. Along the larger, more fashionable streets such as Via Roma, shopwindows exhibited *See "United Italy Marks Its 100th Year," by Nathan iel T. Kenney, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, November, 1961. Octopus hangs limply from the hand of a fisherman in Portofino. He killed his catch by turning the globular body inside out. The flesh may be boiled, baked, or fried; chopped into bits, it adds flavor to soup.