Enclosed between the coastal
area and back-lying hills, Genoa is wedged
in the Polcevera Bisagno Valleys. It’s Italy’s
main port and one of the major ones in the Mediterranean.
Already important in the VII Century BC, it was destroyed
(205BC) by Magone, Hannibal’s brother, due to its alliance
with Rome. It was then rebuilt as a Federal City, during Caesar’s
era, and the ancient Genua became the principal port of Gallia
Cisalpina. Impoverished during the Imperial era, it was subjected
to Byzantine, Longobard and Franco domination. During the
reign of Berengario II, who permitted relevant privileges
(958), it was inglobed under the Obertenga mark and flourished
as a commercial port.
Due to the offer of help given to the Norman troops and by
Fiandra during the 1st Crusades (1099), it obtained possessions
and concessions at Antiochia, Giaffa, Cesarea, Jeruselem and
San Giovanni d’Acri. The commercial development led
to disagreements between Pisa and Venice: the conflict against
Pisa began in 1060-62 and ended with the battle of Meloria
(1284), following which Genoa took possession of Corsica,
the Island of Elba and some Sardinian estates; the one against
Venice (1205-1381) had uncertain developments, and notwithstanding
a Genovese victory at Curzola (1298), the three successive
peace treaties (the last in 1381) left the situation unchanged.
Allied to the Church against Federico II (1238), it was disturbed
by the feuds between the Guelphs and Ghibellines until its
conquest by Carlo VI of France (1401). Under domination by
the Marquis’s of Monferrato (1409-13), the Visconti’s
(1421) and Francesco Sforza (1463), it returned to French
hands in 1507 under Luigi XII. It was also involved in the
Franco-Spanish war (1463) and pillaged by Carlo V’s
troops (1522). Conquered by Andrea Doria (1528) whilst under
the Spanish flag, it became independent thanks to the Madrid
Convention (1528). At the end of 1630 it was the centre of
Spanish traffic heading towards the Lombard region and Central
Europe; Spanish decadence then pushed it to ask for help from
the French against expansion ideas by the Hapsburgs and Sabaude.
As part of the Napoleonic Empire (1805), it was assigned by
the Congress of Vienna (1815) to the Savoia Reign. During
the Second World War it underwent heavy bombardments.
Over the last twenty years, the City has known an incessant
process of rebirth, both cultural and urbanistic, giving it
an annual role as European Capital of Culture. To give witness
to the phase, restoration was carried out in the harbour area
– including the new aquarium – from plans by Renzo
Piano, the reconstruction of the Carlo Felice Theatre from
plans by Aldo Rossi and the reorganization of the most important
museum sites of the City.
From an artistic point of view, the City has lived two particular
flourishing moments: the Medieval and the period between the
16th and 17th Centuries.