The endless city of Janus1 with two faces

Massive Genoa (Italy) seems to be immovable. Horizontal, white-green stripes of facades pull down, widen optically, but anyway everything is vertical. Mountainous frontages of the residences on Le Strade Nuove2 are hiding secret gardens and elegant yards. High windows are tightly closed with shutters – even light cannot glimpse the private space of inhabitants. Italian architect Renzo Piano built an aquarium in a port. Marine creatures from around the world are kept there – they do not threaten successors of Columbus3 anymore. A sea is the only one border, Genoa is spreading, expanding and accumulating in a multilevel way. It is necessary to look from a distance to see everything.I felt that I was shrinking and vanishing, that I needed someone who would lead me by the hand.


On Corso Italia, someone pours sunlight every day, which slows down steps and causes drowsiness. One should close eyes and walk half dreaming until the end. On the edge – an antique borgo Boccadasse (it. bocca d’asinodonkey’s mouth) – the old marine neighbourhood with remarkable Italian architecture. A little harbour opens its mouth to taste salty waves. Simple, nestled houses have loud colours and smell like a sea. They do not fit la Superba4, so they are hidden behind the corner.


Is it possible that the district was a Celtic colony? Probably. Its name came from the motto ‘near av inn’ – a place near the sea. The suspended between cliffs promenade Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi5 leads to a calm port under the attack of waves. Maybe it still remembers humble beginnings of the daily route of fishermen and farmers? Or glory days, when rich nobles used to build their summer residences (Villa Gnecco, Villa Gropallo, Villa Luxoro, Villa Saluzzo Serra, Villa Grimaldi Fassio)? The growing settlement, with time, absorbed parks of the maritime villas. The remaining parts of the gardens were combined into the botanical complex Parchi di Nervi. Local people do not speak too much. Maybe because their voices drowned in the sea.

Travel Palette of Genoa


1 The god of motion (beginnings and endings) has, according to his dual nature, two faces. The legend says that he was the founder of Genoa – and like him, the city also has two faces, one heading sea, other mountains.
2 UNESCO World Heritage Site Genoa: Le Strade Nuove and the system of the Palazzi dei Rolli.
3 The Italian explorer was born in Genoa.
4 it. la Superba – the proud one
5 Wife and comrade-in-arms of Italian general Giuseppe Garibaldi who united Italy.