Friday, 19 March 2010

Genoa: Porto Antico

Genoa in general, and its port in particular, used to have a distinctly unsavoury reputation. It spruced itself up considerably, though, in 1992 to celebrate the quincentenary of sometime inhabitant of the city Christopher Columbus' 'discovery' of America, and again in 2004 when it was designated European City of Culture. Today the Porto Antico  is rather a nice place to take a stroll, as I did today. 

Clockwise from bottom left: Aquarium and Neptune's Galley (apparently used in Roman Polanski's 1986 film Pirates); Prawns on sale next to the port; the port, taken from up the hill at Righi, with the symbolic Lanterna (lighthouse) in the middle; Renzo Piano's Bigo; detail of aforementioned Neptune's Galley

Though most commercial activity takes place elsewhere now, Genoa's bond with the sea is still evident here in physical form, as well as in popular culture, such as the wistful song 'Da a me riva' by Genoese singer-songwriter Fabrizio de AndrĂ©. I can't seem to find an English translation of the Genoese dialect on the whole of the internet, so have attempted my own (please feel free to correct any infelicities, or wrong bits):

From my shore
only your white handkerchief
from my shore
in my life
your bitter smile
in my life
excuse the lump in my throat
but I am thinking of you against the sun
and I know you are looking at the sea
just off the coast of pain
and I am here, in front of
this sailor's trunk
and I am here looking at
three velvet shirts
two blankets and a mandolin
and a hardwood inkpot
and a photo of you as a girl
in a black beret
to be able to kiss Genoa once more
on your mothballed mouth.

Isn't 'naftalina' a far prettier word for mothballs than mothball?

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