In the 18th century, certain rooms in the city’s aristocratic dwellings were modified and redecorated in a French style.
You can visit at least three such ‘golden galleries’ in Genoa.
Others, unfortunately, are still privately owned, and are not always accessible.
The array of gold, mirrors, lamps and frescoes make these mini treasure troves a joy to behold. The mirrors multiply the effect, so the space seems infinite.
The queen of Genoa
The Republic of Genoa had a Queen.
In 1637 the Virgin Mary was crowned Queen of Genoa. This all stemmed from who gave way to whom during the processions and parades of the embassies from different states.
The Republic was made to give precedence to the large monarchies, and so had to wait until last. To resolve this issue, the Madonna was crowned Queen of Genoa, giving the state a monarch much more important than all the others. The Virgin Mary was therefore depicted with a crown, sceptre and the keys of the city, and featured on the Republic’s coins.
The Doge remained head of the Republic, and he too was shown with the same symbols, along with an ermine cloak.
On two wheels
Genoa has more motorbikes per inhabitant than any other Italian city: around 230 for every 1000 residents.
Here everyone travels by scooter thanks to the mild climate that continues through the winter; the city is hilly, making cycling hard work.
Children receive a helmet for their fifth birthday, so they can be carried on their parents’ bikes.
There are many official parking spaces for motorbikes, but often people prefer to invent their own.
Red and Black
The house numbering system in Genoa is a true mystery.
The city is a labyrinth, confusing and difficult to navigate.
Two colours, red and black, indicate different buildings and functions, distinguishing between residential and commercial properties.
In 1855, under the rule of the Kingdom of Sardinia, the system which divided the city into districts known as sestrieri was abolished, and a new law, inspired by the French system, altered the way numbers were assigned and their layout. They have remained the same ever since.