Marilyn Geary

Journeys Illuminating the Old Ways

Marilyn Geary

2014 April Day27 – Genova



Early this morning I left the apartment to find some breakfast goodies. The raspy sound of heavy metal rang through the air as shop after shop opened for business. The decaying elegance of this nearby shop, which restores furniture, typifies Genova’s historic center.


We are staying in an apartment facing Piazza San Matteo, which dates back to the early Middle Ages. The Doria family owned the piazza; Andrea Doria was born here and his remains rest in the church crypt. Now some residents uses the piazza as a small dog park.


Signs remind owners to clean up after their pooches.

We visited the L’Ospitale della Commenda di San Giovanni di Prè down near the waterfront. This place dates from 1180 and was built to provide hospice to pilgrims who were passing through Genoa to and from the Holy Lands.

An exhibit on the Knights Templar added to the visit, as we learned from our guide how the Templars formed, became wealthy bankers and builders, then were destroyed by the King of France, Filippo il Bello.


Pilgrims often became ill enroute, and hospices such as this one took care for those sick. Here are some instruments used at the time.

We walked around the area of the Porto Antica, finding immigrant shops providing internet/phone access, wire transfers, little trattorias selling biryani alla Genovese, and barbers offering a variety of fancy hair styles.

Cheryl needed some throat lozenges, so we stopped in a pharmacy. The clerk began serving us, even though he was in the midst of helping this African man dressed in long robes and skullcap. We insisted that he complete the prior transaction first.

The waterfront looks similar to san Francisco’s Embarcadero prior to the 1989 earthquake and removal of the the freeway.

Plans by Renzo Piano, architect of the Genoa Aquarium, to take down the roadway and redo the port are displayed in the Museo Galata del Mare. We visited that museum particularly to see an exhibit on immigration to/from Genoa. We were given passports to use in the multimedia exhibits. This arrogant official stamps them or tears them up depending on his mood. I lost ours when I inserted it in the kiosk, so guess we would have been illegals.



We looked up Chiara Peirano in a database of immigrants and found her record. Listed as a “gentleman’s servant,” she may have obtained her employment with Amadeo Gianinni’s family before leaving Italy. Giannini was born in San Jose, so the mystery remains of how she came to work as a nanny for Giannini’s children.


We ate lunch on the terrace at the museum then went up to the glassed-in roof terrace for a view of the port.

We walked from the Porto Antico to the Nuova Strada, the street of enormous Palazzi dei Rolli. At the time of the Genoa Republic, these stately homes belonged to aristocratic Genovese families who entered a lottery to have the honor of hosting dignitaries passing through Genova. Out of the 150 Palazzi dei Rolli in Genova, 42 have become UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They have elaborate designs, some open to public view, some housing private firms.

We entered the courtyard of one palazzo to find Cristina Parodi restoring an upside down painting in her workshop.

In this neighborhood and world-wide, the Profumo di Rosa Gelateria is well-known for its gelato, but we lacked the patience to wait out the swarm of young people gathered in front of the gelateria.

We walked on to the Piazza de Ferrari, the center of Genova, where a prominent Garibaldi sits on his horse in the middle of the enormous square.


We, along with many other passersby, were surprised to come across a post covered with crocheted yarn pieces…




And noticed that its part of a street art project called “Yarn Bombing in Genova.”

Crochet artists for peace…


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