Genoa


Genoa
(Genova)
   One of Italy’s largest cities, with a current population of over 600,000 inhabitants, Genoa has long been one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean. In the Middle Ages, Genoa, while nominally part of the Holy Roman Empire, was actually a free republic governed by a rudimentary form of representative government. It possessed a powerful navy and controlled the whole of the Tyrrhenian sea, as well as colonial outposts in the Middle East and Turkey. Victories against Pisa (1284) and Venice (1298) left it without rivals. Genoa squandered its good fortune and less than a hundred years later was under first French dominion and then rule from Milan. Genoa retained its proud maritime tradition, however. The most famous sailor in history, Christopher Columbus, was a native of Genoa. In the 15th and 16th centuries, as part of Spanish empire, Genoa flourished, and the city’s many splendid palazzi date from this period. The historical center of Genoa is recognized as a world heritage site by the United Nations.
   Genoa’s modern history began in 1797, when the so-called Ligurian republic was formed. Genoa was incorporated into France during the Napoleonic epoch and later, after the Congress of Vienna, became part of the kingdom of Sardinia. The Genoese became ardent Italian patriots under the rule of the House of Savoy: Giuseppe Garibaldi sailed to Sicily from the Genoa shore in 1860, and many of his red-shirted volunteers were Ligurians. Genoa became a rich industrial port at the end of the 19th century, importing and exporting the products needed and produced by Milan and Turin. A working-class town, it was a center of partisan activity during World War II, being awarded a gold medal for valor, and in 1960 erupted in protest when the neofascist Movimento Sociale Italiano/Italian Social Movement (MSI) provocatively chose to hold its annual conference there. In more recent times, the decline of local industries such as ship-building has caused severe poverty in some parts of the city, although even today the port, which is the secondbiggest in the Mediterranean after Marseilles, remains a big employer. The port area has been renovated in recent years; its centerpiece is the giant aquarium, which attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. In July 2001, the G8 summit of world leaders was held in Genoa. The visit provoked widespread riots by antiglobalization activists from all over Europe and a violent reaction by the police.
   See also Tambroni, Fernando.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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