Any photo is a partial view. A skillful photographer may manage to capture the essence of a city in a few images but it’s far easier to select a conventionally picturesque view and ignore the contradictions and incongruities that make up the messy reality of daily life.
Here’s the entrance hall and courtyard of Genoa’s ducal palace, now municipal offices. It is as cool and elegant as the photo suggests but just out of the image there’s a large wall mounted screen promoting forthcoming events and city projects, a café counter, several official notice boards… You get the picture.
My photos of Genoa streets and buildings (in yesterday’s and last week’s posts) might give the impression that this is a compact, elegant city caught in a Renaissance time warp. In reality it’s a twenty mile sprawl along the coastal strip with twentieth century housing blocks clambering up the hills to the landward side.
Palazzo San Giorgio was built in 1260 for one of Genoa’s leading noble families. The extravagant trompe l’oeil decoration dates from 1482 when the building was the offices of the Bank of St George, one of the first banks in Europe. Look up Palazzo San Giorgio on the web and you’ll find lots of photos are taken on an angle like this one.
The palazzo is one of a row of grand houses built to overlook the port of Genoa. Since 1965 they have overlooked the Sopraelevata Aldo Moro, an elevated expressway dreamt up by modernizing city planners in the 1950s.
The main activity of the port moved down the coast to deeper waters many years ago. In recent years a major regeneration project has converted the old harbour into a marina surrounded by attractive public space….
with a large and very popular aquarium, a maritime museum, a panoramic lift, cafés and bars.
This elaborately decorated Spanish galleon looks rather incongruous among the modern yachts. The Neptune is a reproduction of a 17th century ship of the same name, built in 1985 for Roman Polanski’s film Pirates. The wooden superstructure, bristling with carved mermaids, dolphins, ram’s heads and golden Atlas figures, hides a functional steel hull. First impressions can be deceptive.
Click on any photo for a closer view.