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Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Art in Genoa

Yesterday we planted the rest of the potatoes in Villa. It was a hard job. All in all we double dug an area of about 20 x 6 feet. Double digging is the technique, where you first take off the top turf layer, putting it aside. Then you dig another spade depth further, return the turf upside down, then in this case you throw the seed potatoes on top and cover them again. This will hopefully kill off the herbage that was growing on top and at the same time decompose to feed the potatoes. Signor Bruschi next door was also just sowing out his potatoes (he was impressed we managed it by hand!). It’s nice to know we got them in at the same time as the neighbour, which is always a good guideline.

Today we had some business in Genoa and it was a nice day, so we decided to take in a bit of culture while we were there. We’ve of course been a good few times to the regional capital, but so far we had only ever rushed through the Via Garribaldi, which has recently been declared a UN World Heritage Site. It’s quite a narrow road dating from the 1500’s, lined with grand palazzi, bearing witness to the times when Genoa was a major player on the world stage. Being a narrow road, you don’t appreciate the façades of these buildings when you are just passing through, so we made a point of stopping this time and looking at them. 3 of the palazzi are open as Museums on one ticket, the Palazzo Rosso, the Palazzo Bianco and the Palazzo Tursi. As I knew that Palazzo Bianco had a Caravaggio in it’s collection and I’ve been a fan of this painter ever since I read his biography entitled ‘M’ by Peter Robb, we decided to go inside.

Palazzo Rosso has a great collection of paintings from local artists as well as a number from Flemish (Van Dijk and others) and French artists, as well as couple of works from Dürer. The ceilings inside alone are worth a look with 3d cherubs floating above you or sometimes humorously aiming eggs at you. We had a sit down in the sun in the tranquil gardens. The biggest surprise was when we were taken to the roof of the building, where you get a sweeping view of the whole city. Of the local artists my favourite was Luca Cambiaso 1527-1585. His lines are soft, colour sparing, but the atmospheres and expressions of his subjects are very moving. My favourite painting was Madonna col Bambino with baby St. John (I assume), who is looking extremely happy cuddling a lamb. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find an image of it on-line, but here another example from this artist. I wasn’t that taken by the more celebrated Genovese painter Bernardo Strozzi, except for maybe his ‘Il Pifferaio’.

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