Charles Dickens wrote a short book called, Pictures from Italy, which recounts some of his reflections and experiences from the time he spent there in 1844. Here is what he says about our new home:
It is a place that ‘grows upon you’ every day. There seems to be always something to find out in it. There are the most extraordinary alleys and by-ways to walk about in. You can lose your way (what a comfort that is, when you are idle!) twenty times a day, if you like; and turn up again, under the most unexpected and surprising difficulties. It abounds in the strangest contrasts; things that are picturesque, ugly, mean, magnificent, delightful, and offensive, break upon the view at every turn.
What follows is a random list of facts about Genova. The list is pretty basic and lacks the eloquence of Dickens’ reflection. Most of it you’d find pretty quick with a google search. The rest is stuff we’ve picked up the handful of times we’ve visited. A real understanding of the city will only come from living there, but we hope this list can help you get to know our future home.
- Genova is called Genoa in English. It’s confusing. While speaking English I often say, ‘Geneva,’ which doesn’t mean Genova and isn’t in Italy.
- Like I mentioned in our newsletter, there are 600,000 people and then 850,000 in the larger metropolitan city area. If you include the entirety of the Genova Metropolitan Area, there are over 1.5 million people.
- Genova is the 6th largest city in Italy and is Italy’s largest seaport.
- Genova is 2 hours from Nice, France and 4 hours from Geneva, Switzerland.
- Genova is known for its Focaccia (a type of flat bread) and pesto sauce (basil, pine nuts, grated parmesan, garlic and olive oil), which you usually eat on pasta, but is also incredible on pizza.
- Christopher Columbus was born there.
- Some of the city is sea level, while other parts are elevated as they move up the mountains. To get around from one level to another there are cable cars, elevators, and of course, lots of stairs.
- The historical district is one of the largest in Europe and is filled with caruggi, tight labyrinth like alley ways much too narrow for a car to pass. Tall buildings tower over the narrow ways giving the whole thing a very medieval feel.
- Genova, like Jupiter, Florida, has a light house called la Lanterna (the lantern).
- Genova, like almost every other place in Italy, has its own dialect. We don’t know much about it yet, but have read that the older generations speak it while the younger ones only understand it. For example Genova (Italian) is Zêna in Genovese.
- In the coldest months: December, January and February, the average temperature is 12 °C (54 °F) during the day and 6 °C (43 °F) at night. In the warmest months – July and August – the average temperature is 27.5 °C (82 °F) during the day and 21 °C (70 °F) at night (this is right from Wikipedia).
- Genova, like the rest of Italy, is in the midst of economic crisis. Young people have a difficult time finding jobs and so they are forced to seek work in other countries.
- The average age in Genova is 47 which is 5 years older than the average in Italy.
- There are several small towns surrounding Genova. Some are tucked away in the mountains as you move away from the coast. Others are found along the coast in between breaks in the foothills. It seems that many of these towns function somewhat autonomously with their own city center. Our hearts can’t help but wonder if Christ might also build a church in each of these small communities.
- The University of Genova was founded in 1481, and has about 40,000 students. Matt is considering taking courses there as a way to work on his Italian and to meet other people.