Felice Rossello, a genuine Savona man and a lecturer in Communication Sciences, accompanies Patrizio in the discovery of the city and takes him to a special place, a sort of synthesis of Savona and its souls: modern, art nouveau, medieval. Even before getting to the crux of the visit, however, Patrizio asks about a monument that he finds “very beautiful” … discovering from Felice that he is talking about the “tragedy building!” A building put up by the Genoese on the ashes of the Savona acropolis, to remind them of their domination. It even seems the Genoese silted up the harbour at the time, to avoid ships berthing there.
The visit continues in the discovery of the Liberty soul of the city, which even the people of Savona don’t know well – says Felice Rossello. There is Palazzo delle Piane in Via Mazzini, also called “Building of Balls” because on top there are some bronze spheres, it is in the heart of the nineteenth-century town, which revived after the blow inflicted by the Genoese in the sixteenth century. The architect Alessandro Martinengo, considered the Gaudì of Savona, built it, more or less in 1911. Then there is the Tempietto Boselli, a beautiful garden that takes its name from the ceramist that built it. It dates from the neoclassical period and is entirely built in ceramics.
The tour continues towards the harbour, along Via Paleocapa, the “art nouveau street”, dedicated to the engineer that had Savona built here. Here there is the Building of Peacocks, built in 1912 and characterized by a ceramics series representing animals. We are in the street of Savona promenades. Nineteenth-century Savona was built on the model of the plan of the city of Turin, being considered in that period a “sea appendix” of the latter.
Then if you have always believed that in the world only one Sistine Chapel exists, in Rome, know that you are wrong! There are two chapels. One is indeed in Rome, the Sistine Chapel built at the behest of Sixtus IV; but there is another one in Savona, built at the behest of the same pope (who was from Savona!) as a funeral monument for his parents. The inside of the Savona chapel was however redone during the Rococo period and it is only recently, during some restoration work, that the fifteenth-century frescos have re-emerged.
A sea story
Going out of Savona harbour and along the Ligurian coast on board Adriatica, Syusy gets the historian Valerio Peluffo to tell her the story of the city. Savona was an important maritime city, a place of dense trade with all the countries of the Mediterranean, as far as the east (this is testified to by the particular facture of the ceramics of nearby Albissola, showing unequivocal Turkish influence). It is true that before the arrival of the Romans the Ligurians were still organized in tribes, but they were already skilled navigators and the first traces of their maritime exchanges go back to the archaic age: they traded with the Etruscans and with the Greek settlers of Marseilles!
However, there has always been intense rivalry between Savona and nearby Genoa, which came to a head in 1528, when the Genoese organized a destructive expedition that buried Savona harbour, causing the end of the maritime power of the city. In the span of a century the population went down from 16,000 to 6,000 and the characteristics of Savona changed altogether: it changed from a great maritime power to an agricultural town, inhabited by “terra firma sailors.”
The clash between Savona and Genoa is lost in history, surely more deeply rooted when the people of Savona welcomed and protected in their harbour the Carthaginians, who had fought against Genoa. The reaction of the Genoese was the destruction of all the most beautiful part of the city between 1542 and 1543, and now only the fort stands there, built for protection against attacks by the Savoys and the Turks. Today the fort is still seen by the people of Savona as a symbol of oppression, evoking the long duration and depth of the conflict ...
Syusy and Patrizio meet in Savona, in Piazza Mameli, for an event that marks the daily life of the inhabitants of the city and cannot fail to arouse the curiosity of tourists.
What happens every day in Savona? At 6 pm sharp the piazza stops. Patrizio explains that every day the bell of the Monument of the Fallen in Piazza Mameli strikes 21 times, one for each letter of the Italian alphabet. In this way, listing all the letters, the intention is to remember all the fallen in all the wars that have involved Savona. And when the bell tolls, all the traffic in this piazza stops.
Together with a traffic policewoman, the two casual sailors observe this scene that is unique in the world, a ritual that unites all the inhabitants of Savona.
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- > Il portale della provincia di Savona
- > Savona e la sua storia su Wikipedia
- > La vita di Alessandro Martinengo su Wikipedia
- > Il rituale di Piazza Mameli nel sito del comune di Savona
- > Come arrivare: in treno
- > Trasporti pubblici nella provincia di Savona