Genova still waits to be discovered. The labyrinth of its historical heart is the symbol of a mysterious city, which plays a hide and seek and lets itself be appreciated a little at a time. I wrote this list of 8 curious facts about Genova, more or less known, with the hope to stimulate your interest and maybe tempt you to select the Superba (the Magnificent, as called by locals) as a destination for your next escape.
1 – GENOVA AS CINEMATOGRAPHIC LOCATION
Genova has often been selected to shoot films, music videos and ads. Every time that I recognize a small corner of Genova on T.V. I get emotional. Just in 2013, it was the protagonist of 14 tv commercials and seven national and international photo shoots. Its luck began with the Lumière Brothers that already in 1912 shot many documentaries, then Alfred Hitchcock did set in 1925 The Pleasure Garden and later it was the protagonist on an international level of The Malapaga Walls from René Clément. Lately, Genova has hosted famous people like the beautiful Nicole Kidman that shot here some scenes of the film Grace of Monaco of Oliver Dahan inside Palazzo Reale in Balbi street.
2 – GENOVA AND LUPIN III
Scoundrels and crime lovers. Did you know that some scenes of the film Lupin III have been shot right at Genova’s Ancient Port? The famous thief is roaming around Palazzo San Giorgio and Sottoripa, that is very easy to recognize thanks to the pictures of the Sopraelevata, the overpass.
3 – GENOVA AS THE CRADLE OF LOTTO
Lotto is the evolution of some games that go back to ancient civilizations (like Egyptians, Romans, and Babylonians). Lotto how we know it today was born right in Genova in Palazzo Ducale (and not in Naples as often believed) and comes from a game that was called “The Seminary Game,” where people bet on the names of Genovese citizens nominated for merit at public offices. People were trying their luck playing twice a year trying to guess the names of the five elected people. Fairly soon the candidates to the elections were reduced from 120 to 90 and later the names were replaced by numbers. The historical traces of the Lotto game go back to 1620: from that year onwards, right at Genova, lotto was adjusted precisely, while in all the other Italian States as well as in the Papal State this game was banned on the grounds of moral reasons.
4 – AMERICAN JEANS? NOT AT ALL, GENOVESE JEANS!
Nowadays jeans are in any collection of clothes. Did you know that they were invented at Genova? Yes indeed! The famous blue fabric was initially used to create the ships sails sacks and later the trousers of the Genovese sailors that were travelling from port to port around the world. The name comes from the mangling of Gênes, that is Genova in French.
5 – GENOVA IS THE MOST BRITISH CITY IN ITALY
In recent years I have noticed a number of English-speaking tourists that fell in love with the Ligurian capital city. Many decide to move here; many other ones keep a good memory of it after their return to England. Its variable climate could represent a common factor, as well as its flag and its glorious naval past. The English influence is also visible in the creation of the Genoa football team in 1893 (the very first football association in Italy), and of the historic Tennis Club, that was founded in the same year. I would also like to add that the character of people is not that different in matters like mistrust and icy attitude, while the stereotype of being stingy, in this case, has been attributed to Scottish people.
6 – WHAT DOES GENOVA HAVE IN COMMON WITH BUENOS AIRES?
The answer is Boccadasse! Genovese immigrants that moved permanently in Argentina created the district of Boca, as they founded the Boca Junior football team, whose nickname was Xeneizes.
7 -BLACK AND RED HOUSE NUMBERS
In Genova, the house numbers are divided into red ones for commercial activities and black ones for private homes. At times, locating a number gets complicated and discouraging for people coming from other Italian cities where this system does not exist. A famous joke was «Genovese people save even on numbers, they: use them twice».
8 -CONTEMPORARY ECONOMY AND THE FIRST BANK IN EUROPE
In 1400 Genova owned many colonies in the Mediterranean, and the ships docking were loaded with rare and precious goods that were resold at high prices in the rest of Italy. To preserve commercial trades and colonies, Genova indebted, and in 1408 the first banking activity specialized in loans and credits was born at Palazzo San Giorgio. The Republic of Genova was often compelled to ask loans. As time passed by, the Banco di San Giorgio became very powerful and autonomous so much that started to take over directly at the administrative level Ligurian colonies and constituencies, in practice becoming the “guarantor of the economic and social order” of the Republic of Genova.