1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Genoa
GENOA, (anc. Genua, Ital. Genova, Ft. Gênes), the chief port of Liguria, Italy, and capital of the province of Genoa, 119 m. N.W. of Leghorn by rail. Pop. (1906) 255,294 (town); 267,248 (commune). The town is situated on the Gulf of Genoa, and is the chief port and commercial town of Italy, the seat of an archbishop and a university, the headquarters of the IV. Italian army corps, and a strong fortress. The city, as seen from the sea, is "built nobly," and deserves the title it has acquired or assumed of the Superb. Finding only a small space of level ground along the shore, it has been obliged to climb the lower hills of the Ligurian Alps, which afford many a coign of vantage for the effective display of its architectural magnificence. The original nucleus of the city is that portion which lies to the east of the port in the neighbourhood of the old pier (Molo Vecchio). In the 10th century it began to feel a lack of room within the limits of its fortifications; and accordingly, in the middle of the 12th century, it was found necessary to extend the line of circumvallation. Even this second circuit, however, was of small compass, and it was not till 1320–1330 that a third line took in the greater part of the modern site of the city proper. This presented about 3 m. of rampart towards the land side, and can still be easily traced from point to point through the city, though large portions, especially towards the east, have been dismantled. The present line of circumvallation dates from 1626–1632, the period when the independence of Genoa was threatened by the dukes of Savoy. From the mouth of the Bisagno in the east, and from the lighthouse point in the west, it stretches inland over hill and dale to the great fort of Sperone, i.e. the Spur, on the summits of Monte Peraldo at a height of 1650 ft.,—the circuit being little less than 12 m., and all the important points along the line being defended by forts or batteries.
A portion of the enclosed area is open country, dotted only here and there with houses and gardens. There are eight gates, the more important being Porta Pila and Porta Romana towards the east, and the Porta Lanterna or Lighthouse Gate to the west. The main architectural features of Genoa are its medieval churches, with striped facades of black and white marble, and its magnificent 16th-century palaces. The earlier churches of Genoa show a mixture of French Romanesque and the Pisan style—they are mostly basilicas with transepts, and as a rule a small dome; the pillars are sometimes ancient columns, and sometimes formed of alternate layers of black and white marble. The façades are simple, without galleries, having only pilasters projecting from the wall, and are also alternately black and white. This style continued in Gothic times also. The oldest is S. Maria di Castello (11th century), the columns and capitals of which are almost all antique. S. Cosma, S. Donato (with remains of the 10th-century building) and others belong to the 12th century, and S. Giovanni di Pr, S. Agostino (with a fine campanile), S. Stefano, S. Matten and others to the 13th. The famous painting of the martyrdom of S. Stephen, by Giulio Romano, carried off by Napoleon in 1811, was restored to S. Stefano in 1815. S. Marten, the church of the D'Oria or Doria family, was founded in 1126 by Martino Doria. The façade dates from 1278, and the interior of the edifice dates in the main from 1543. In the crypt is the tomb of Andrea Doria by Montorsoli, and above the main altar hangs the dagger presented to the doge by Pope Paul III. To the left of the church is an exquisite cloister of 1308 with double columns, in which a number of inscriptions relating to the Doria family and also the statue of Andrea Doria by Montorsoli are preserved. The little square in front of the church is surrounded by Gothic palaces of the Doria family. Of the churches the principal is the comparatively small cathedral of S. Lorenzo. Tradition makes its first foundation contemporary with St Lawrence himself; and a document of 987 implies that it was even then the metropolitan church. Reconstructed about the end of the 11th and beginning of the 12th century, it was formally consecrated by Pope Gelasius II. on the 18th of October 1118; and since then it has undergone a large number of extensive though partial renovations. The façade, with its three elaborate doorways, belongs to the 14th century and is a copy of French models of the 13th. The two side portals with Romanesque sculptures belong to the 12th–14th centuries. Some pagan reliefs are built into the tower. The interior was rebuilt in 1307, the old columns being used. The belfry, which rises above the right-hand doorway, was erected about 1520 by the doge, Ottaviano da Campofragoso, and the cupola was erected after the designs of the architect Galeazzo Alessi in 1567. The fine Early Renaissance (1448) sculptural decorations of the chapel of S. John the Baptist were due to Domenico Gagini of Bissone on the Lake of Lugann, who later transferred his activities to Naples and Palermo, and other Lombard masters. An edict of Innocent VIII. forbids women to enter the chapel except on one day in the year. In the treasury of the cathedral is a magnificent silver monstrance dating from 1553, and an octagonal bowl, the Sacro Catinn, brought from Caesarea in 1101, which corresponds to the descriptions given of the Holy Grail, and was long regarded as an emerald of matchless value, but was found when broken at Paris, whither it had been carried by Napoleon I., to be only a remarkable piece of ancient glass. The choir-stalls are a very fine work of the 15th century and later, with intarsias. Near the cathedral is a small 12th-century (?) cloister.
Of older date than the cathedral is the church of S. Ambrose and S. Andrew, if its first foundation be correctly assigned to the Milanese bishop Honoratus of the 6th century; but the present edifice is due to the Society of Jesus, who obtained possession of the church in 1587. The interior is richly decorated and contains the "Circumcision" and "St Ignatius" by Rubens, and the "Assumption" of Guido Reni. The Annunzlata del Guastato is one of the largest churches in the city, erected in 1587. It is a cruciform structure, with a dome, and the central nave is supported by fourteen Corinthian columns of white marble. To the otherwise unfinished brick façade a portal borne by marble columns was added in 1843. The interior is covered with gilding and frescoes of the 17th century, and is somewhat overloaded with rich decoration, while a range of white marble columns supports the nave. Santa Maria delle Vigne probably dates from the 9th century, but the present structure was erected in 1586. The campanile, however, is a remarkable work of the 13th century. Adjoining the church is a ruined cloister of the 11th century. San Siro, originally the "Church of the Apostles" and the cathedral of Genoa, was rebuilt by the Benedictines in the 11th century, and restored and enlarged by the Theatines in 1576, the façade being added in 1830; in this church in 1339 Simone Boccanera was elected first doge of Genoa. Santa Maria di Carignano, or more correctly Santa Maria Assunta e SS. Fabiano e Sebastiano, belongs mainly to the 16th century, and was designed by Galeazzo Alessi, in imitation of Bramante's plan for S. Peter's at Rome, as it was then being executed by Michelangelo. The interior is fine, harmonious and restrained, painted in white and grey, while the colouring of the exterior is less pleasing. From the highest gallery of the dome—368 ft. above the sea-level, and 194 ft. above the ground—a magnificent view is obtained of the city and the neighbouring coast.
Buildings of the 15th century do not occupy an important place in Genoa, but there are some small private houses and remains of sculptural decoration of the Early Renaissance to be seen in the older portions of the town. The palaces of the Genoese patricians, famous for their sumptuous architecture, their general effectiveness (though the architectural details are often faulty if closely examined), and their artistic collections, were many of them built in the latter part of the 16th century by Galeazzo Alessi, a pupil of Michelangelo, whose style is of an imposing and uniform character and displays marvellous ingenuity in using a limited or unfavourable site to the greatest advantage. Several of the villas in the vicinity of the city are also his work. The Via Garibaldi is flanked by a succession of magnificent palaces, chief among which is the Palazzo Rosso, so called from its red colour. Formerly the palace of the Brignole-Sale family, it was presented by the duchess of Galliera to the city in 1874, along with its valuable contents, its library and picture gallery, which includes fine examples of Van Dyck and Paris Bordone. The Palazzo Municipale, built by Rocco Lurago at the end of the 16th century, once the property of the dukes of Turin, has a beautiful entrance court and a hanging terraced garden fronting a noble staircase of marble which leads to the spacious council chamber. In an adjoining room are preserved a bronze tablet dating from 117 B.C. (see below), two autograph letters of Columbus, and the violin of Paganini, also a native of Genoa. Opposite the Palazzo Rosso is the Palazzo Bianco, a palace full of art treasures bequeathed to the city by the duchess of Galliera upon her death in 1889, and subsequently converted into a museum. The Roman antiquities here preserved belong to other places Luna, Libarna &c. The Adorno, Giorgio Doria (both containing small but choice picture-galleries), Parodi and Serra and other palaces in this street are worthy of mention. The Via Balbi again contains a number of palaces. The Durazzo Pallavicini palace has a noble façade and staircase and a rich picture-gallery. The street takes its name, however, from the Palazzo Balbi-Senarega, which has Doric colonnades and a fine orangery. The Palazzo dell' Università has an extremely fine court and staircase of the early 17th century. The Palazzo Reale is also handsome but somewhat later. The Palazzo Doria in the Piazza del Principe, presented to Andrea Doria by the Genoese in 1522, is on the other hand earlier; it was remodelled in 1529 by Montorsoli and decorated with fine frescoes by Perino del Vaga. The old palace of the doges, originally a building of the 13th century, to which the tower alone belongs, the rest of the building having been remodelled in the 16th century and modernized after a fire in 1777, stands in the Piazza Umberto Primo near the cathedral, and now contains the telegraph and other government offices. Another very fine building is the Gothic Palazzo di S. Giorgio, near the harbour, dating from about 1260, occupied from 1408 to 1797 by the Banca di S. Giorgio, and now converted into a produce exchange. The Campo Santo or Cimitero di Staglieno, about 1½ m. from the city on the banks of the Bisagno, is one of the chief features of Genoa; its situation is of great natural beauty and it is remarkable for its sepulchral monuments, many of which have been executed by the foremost sculptors of modern Italy. The university, founded in 1471, is a flourishing institution with faculties in law, medicine, natural science, engineering and philosophy. Attached to it are a library, an observatory, a botanical garden, and a physical and natural history museum Genoa is also well supplied with technical schools and other institutions for higher education, while ample provision is made for primary education. The hospitals and the asylum for the poor are among the finest institutions of their kind in Italy. Mention must also be made of the Academy of Fine Arts, the municipal library, the great Teatro Carlo Felice and the Verdi Institute of Music.
The irregular relief of its site and its long confinement within the limits of fortifications, which it had outgrown, have both contributed to render Genoa a picturesque confusion of narrow streets, lanes and alleys, varied with stairways climbing the steeper slopes and bridges spanning the deeper valleys. Large portions of the town are inaccessible to ordinary carriages, and many of the important streets have very little room for traffic. In modern times, however, a number of fine streets and squares with beautiful gardens have been laid out. The Piazza Ferrari, a large irregular space, is the chief focus of traffic and the centre of the Genoese tramway system; it is embellished with a fine equestrian statue of Garibaldi, unveiled in 1893 , which stands in front of the Teatro Carlo Felice. Leading from this piazza is the Via Venti Settembre, a broad, handsome street laid out since 1887, leading south-east to the Ponte Pila, the central bridge over the Bisagno. The street is itself spanned by an elegant bridge carrying the Corso Andrea Podesta, a modern avenue on the heights above. Adjoining the church of the Madonna della Consolazione is the new market, a building: of no little beauty. The Via Roma, another important centre of traffic which gives on to the Via Carlo Felice near the Piazza Ferrari, leads to the Piazza Corvetto, in the centre of which stands the colossal equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel II To the left is the Villetta Dinegro, a beautiful park belonging to the city, decorated with cascades and a number of statues and busts of prominent statesmen and citizens. To the right is another park, the Acquasola, laid out in 1837 on the site of the old ramparts. In the west of the city, in front of the principal station, is the Piazza Acquaverde. On the north side, embowered in palm trees, is a great statue of Columbus, at whose feet kneels the figure of America. Opposite is the Palazzo Faraggiana, with scenes from the life of Columbus in relief on its marble pediment. Among other modern thoroughfares, the Via di Circonvallazione a Monte, laid out since 1876 on the hills at the back of the town, leads by many curves from the Piazza Manin along the hill-tops westward, and finally descends into the Piazza Acquaverde; its entire length is traversed by an electric tramway, and it commands magnificent views of the town. A similar road, the Via di Circonvallazione a Mare, was laid out in 1893–1895 on the site of the outer ramparts, and skirts the sea-front from the Piazza Cavour to the mouth of the Bisagno, thence ascending the right bank to the Ponte Pila. Genoa is remarkably well served with electric tramways, which are found in all the wider streets, and run, often through tunnels, into the suburbs and to the surrounding country on the east as far as Nervi and to Pegli on the west. Three funicular railways from different points of the city give access to the highest parts of the hills behind the town.
Though its existence as a maritime power was originally due to its port, it is only since 1870 that Genoa has provided the conveniences necessary for the modern development of its trade, the duke of Galliera's gift of £800,000 to the city in 1875 being devoted to this purpose. A further enlargement of the harbour was necessitated upon the opening of the St Gotthard tunnel in which extended the commercial range of the port through Switzerland into Germany. The old harbour is semi-circular in shape, 232 acres in area, with numerous quays, and protected by moles from southern and south-westerly winds. An outer harbour, 247 acres in area, has been constructed in front of this by extending the Molo Nuovo by the Molo Duca di Galliera, and another basin, the Vittorio Emanuele III., for coal vessels, with an area of 96 acres, is in course of construction to the west of this, between it and the lofty lighthouse which rises on the promontory at the south-west extremity of the harbour. This basin is to be entered from both the east and the west, and allows for a future extension in front of San Pier d'Arena as far as the mouth of the river Polcevera. The port administration was placed under an autonomous harbour board (consorzio) in 1903; The largest ships can enter the harbour, which has a minimum depth of 30 ft.; it has two dry docks a graving dock and a floating dry dock. Very large warehouses have been constructed. The exports are olive oil, hemp, flax, rice, fruit, wine, hats, cheese, steel, velvets, gloves, flour, paper, soap and marble, while the main imports are coal, cotton, grain, machinery, &c. Genoa has a large emigrant traffic with America and a large general passenger steamer traffic both for America and for the East.
The development of industry has kept pace with that of the harbour. The Ansaldo shipbuilding yards construct armoured cruisers both for the Italian navy, and for foreign governments. The Odero yards, for the construction of merchant and passenger steamers, have been similarly extended and the Foce yard is also important. A number of foundries and metallurgical works supply material for repairs and shipbuilding. The sugar-refining industry has been introduced by two important companies, and most of the capital employed in sugar-refining in other parts of Italy has been subscribed at Genoa, where the administrative offices of the principal companies and individual refiners are situated. The old industries of macaroni and cognate products maintain their superiority. Tanneries and cotton-spinning and weaving mills have considerably extended throughout the province. Cement works have acquired an extension previously unknown, more than thirty firms being now engaged in that branch of industry. The manufactures of crystallized fruits and of filigree silver-work may also be mentioned. The trade of the port increased from well under 1,000,000 tons in 1876 to 6,164,873 metric tons in 1906 (the latter figure, however, includes home trade in a proportion of about 12%). Of this large total 5,365,544 tons are imports and only 799,319 tons are exports, and, comparing 1906 with 1905, we have a decrease of 34,355 tons on the exports, and an increase of 436,123 tons on the imports. The effect upon the railway problem is of course very great, inasmuch as, while the supply of trucks required per day in 1906 was from 1000 to 1200, about 80% of these had to be sent down empty to the harbour. Of the four main lines which centre on Genoa—(1) to Novi, which is the junction for Alessandria, where lines diverge to Turin and France via the Mont Cenis, and to Novara and Switzerland and France via the Simplon, and for Milan; (2) to Acqui and Piedmont; (3) to Savona, Ventimiglia and the French Riviera, along the coast; (4) to Spezia and Pisa—the first line has to take no less than 78% of the traffic. It has indeed two alternative double lines for the passage over the Apennines, but one'of them has a maximum gradient of 1:18 and a tunnel over 2 m. long, and the other has a maximum gradient of 1:62, and a tunnel over 5 m. long. A marshalling station costing some £800,000, connected directly with the harbour by tunnels, with 3 m. of rails, capable of taking 2000 trucks, was constructed at Campasso in 1906 north of San Pier d'Arena (through which till then the traffic of the first three lines, representing 95% of the total, had to pass). It is computed that some 40% of the total commerce of Italy passes through Genoa; it is indeed the most important harbour in the western Mediterranean, with the exception of Marseilles, with which it carries on a keen rivalry. Genoa has in the past been somewhat handicapped in the race by the insufficiency of railway communication, which, owing to the mountains which encircle it, is difficult to secure, many tunnels being necessary. The general condition of the Italian railways has also affected it, and the increased traffic has not always found the necessary facilities in the way of a proper amount of trucks to receive the goods discharged, leading to considerable encumbrance of the port and consequent diversion of a certain amount of trade elsewhere, and besides this to serious temporary deficiencies in the coal supply of northern Italy.The imports of Genoa are divided into four main classes: about 50% of the total weight is coal, grain about 12%, cotton about 6%, and miscellaneous about 34%. Of the coal imports the great bulk is from British ports: about half comes from Cardiff and Barry, one-tenth from other Welsh ports, one-fifth from the Tyne ports. The amount shows an almost continued increase from 6,798 tons in 1881 to 2,737,919 in 1906. The total of shipping entered in 1906 was 6586 vessels with a tonnage of 6,867,44, while that cleared was 6611 vessels with a tonnage of 6,682,104.
History.—Genoa, being a natural harbour of the first rank, must have been in use as a seaport as early as navigation began in the Tyrrhenian Sea. We hear nothing from ancient authorities of its having been visited or occupied by the Greeks, but the discovery of a Greek cemetery of the 4th century B.C. proves it. The construction of the Via Venti Settembre gave occasion for the discovery of a number of tombs, 85 in all, the bulk of which dated from the end of the 5th and the 4th centuries B.C. The bodies had in all cases been cremated, and were buried in small shaft graves, the interment itself being covered by a slab of limestone. The vases were of the last red figure style, and were mostly imported from Greece or Magna Graecia, while the bronze objects came from Etruria, and the brooches (fibulae) from Gaul. This illustrates the early importance of Genoa as a trading port, and the penetration of Greek customs, inhumation being the usual practice of the Ligurians. Genoa is believed to derive its name from the fact that the shape of this portion of the coast resembles that of a knee (genu).
We hear of the Romans touching here in 2 B.C., and of its destruction by the Carthaginians in 209 B.C. and immediate restoration by the Romans, who made it and Placentia their headquarters against the Ligurians. It was reached from Rome by the Via Aurelia, which ran along the north-west coast, and its prolongation, which later acquired the name of the Via Aemilia (Scauri); for the latter was only constructed in 109 B.C., and there must have been a coast-road long before, at least as early as 148 B.C., when the Via Postumia was built from Genua through Libarna (mod. Serravalle, where remains of an amphitheatre and inscriptions have been found), Dertona, Iria, Placentia, Cremona, and thence eastwards. We also have an inscription of 117 B.C. (now preserved in the Palazzo Municipale at Genoa) giving the text of the decision given by the patroni, Q. and M. Minucius, of Genua, in accordance with a decree of the Roman senate, in a controversy between the people of Genua and the Langenses or Langates (also known as the Viturii), the inhabitants of a neighbouring hill-town, which was included in the territory of Genua. But none of the other inscriptions found in Genoa or existing there at the present day, which are practically all sepulchral, can be demonstrated to have belonged to the ancient city; it is equally easy to suppose that they were brought from elsewhere by sea (Mommsen in Corp. Inscr. Lat. v. p. 884). It is only from inscriptions of other places that we know that it had municipal rights, and we do not know at what period it obtained them. Classical authors tell us but little of it. Strabo (iv. 6. 2, p. 202) states that it exported wood, skins and honey, and imported olive oil and wine, though Pliny speaks of the wine of the district as the best of Liguria (H.N.) xiv. 67.)
The history of Genoa during the dark ages, throughout the Lombard and Carolingian periods, is but the repetition of the general history of the Italian communes, which succeeded in snatching from contending princes and barons the first charters of their freedom. The patriotic spirit and naval prowess of the Genoese, developed in their defensive wars against the Saracens, led to the foundation of a popular constitution, and to the rapid growth of a powerful marine. From the necessity of leaguing together against the common Saracen foe, Genoa united with Pisa early in the 11th century in expelling the Moslems from the island of Sardinia, but the Sardinian territory thus acquired soon furnished occasions of jealousy to the conquering allies, and there commenced between the two republics the long naval wars destined to terminate so fatally for Pisa. With not less adroitness than Venice, Genoa saw and secured all the advantages of the great carrying trade which the crusades created between Western Europe and the East. The seaports wrested at the same period from the Saracens along the Spanish and Barbary coasts became important Genoese colonies, whilst in the Levant, on the shores Of the Black Sea, and along the banks of the Euphrates were erected Genoese fortresses of great strength. No wonder if these conquests generated in the minds of the Venetians and the Pisans fresh jealousy against Genoa, and provoked fresh wars; but the struggle between Genoa and Pisa was brought to a disastrous conclusion for the latter state by the battle of Meloria in 1284.
The commercial and naval successes of the Genoese during the middle ages were the more remarkable because, unlike their rivals, the Venetians, they were the unceasing prey to intestine discord—the Genoese commons and nobles fighting against each other, rival factions amongst the nobles themselves striving to grasp the supreme power in the state, nobles and commons alike invoking the arbitration and rule of some foreign captain as the sole means of obtaining a temporary truce. From these contests of rival nobles, in which the names of Spinola and Doria stand forth with greatest prominence, Genoa was soon drawn into the great vortex of the Guelph and Ghibelline factions; but its recognition of foreign authority—successively German, Neapolitan and Milanese—gave way to a state of greater independence in 1339, when the government assumed a more permanent form with the appointment of the first doge, an office held at Genoa for life, in the person of Simone Boccanera. Alternate victories and defeats of the Venetians and Genoese—the most terrible being the defeat sustained by the Venetians at Chioggia in 1380—ended by establishing the great relative inferiority of the Genoese rulers, who fell under the power now of France, now of the Visconti of Milan. The Banca di S. Giorgio, with its large possessions mainly in Corsica, formed during this period the most stable element in the state, until in the national spirit appeared to regain its ancient rigour when Andrea Doris succeeded in throwing off the French domination and restoring the old form of government. It was at this very period—the close of the 15th and commencement of the 16th century—that the genius and daring of a Genoese mariner, Christopher Columbus, gave to Spain that new world, which might have become the possession of his native state, had Genoa been able to supply him with the ships and seamen which he so earnestly entreated her to furnish. The government as restored by. Andrea Doria, with certain modifications tending to impart to it a more conservative character, remained unchanged until the outbreak of the French Revolution and the creation of the Ligurian republic. During this long period of nearly three centuries, in which the most dramatic incident is the conspiracy of Fieschi, the Genoese found no small compensation for their lost traffic in the East in the vast profits which they made as the bankers of the Spanish crown and outfitters of the Spanish armies and fleets both in the old world and the new, and Genoa, more fortunate than many of the other cities of Italy, was comparatively immune from foreign domination.
At the end of the 17th century the city was bombarded by the French, and in 1746, after the defeat of Piacenza, surrendered to the Austrians, who were, however, soon driven out. A revolt in Corsica, which began in 1729, was suppressed with the help of the French, who in took possession of the island for themselves (see Corsica: History).
The short-lived Ligurian republic was soon swallowed up in the French empire, not, however, until Genoa had been made to experience, by the terrible privations of the siege when Masséna held the city against the Austrians (1800), all that was meant by participation in the vicissitudes of the French Revolution. In 1814 Genoa rose against the French, on the assurance given by Lord William Bentinck that the allies would restore to the republic its independence. It had, however, been determined by a secret clause of the treaty of Paris that Genoa should be incorporated with the dominions of the king of Sardinia. The discontent created at the time by the provision of the treaty of Paris as confirmed by the congress of Vienna had doubtless no slight share in keeping alive in Genoa the republican spirit which, through the influence of a young Genoese citizen, Joseph Mazzini, assumed forms of permanent menace not only to the Sardinian monarchy but to all the established governments of the peninsula. Even the material benefits accruing from the union with Sardinia and the constitutional liberty accorded to all his subjects by King Charles Albert were unable to prevent the republican outbreak of 1848, when, after a short and sharp struggle, the city, momentarily seized by the republican party, was recovered by General Alfonzo La Marmora.
- See Notizie degli scavi (1898), 395 (A. d'Andrade), 464 (G. Ghirardini).