citysketch

Mapping Genoa

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Genoa’s urban organization is very spellbinding. You have a city that’s balancing the old with the new, and literally divided by the Medieval and the post-Renaissance.

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The Cattedrale di San Lorenzo sits right in front of my apartment – excellent view! It’s hard to capture the whole thing because of how small the Piazza is – in fact, Piazza San Lorenzo was the largest square in the Medieval period of the city.

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You can see just by looking up how the buildings sit without a grid, and completely dishonor the street. Streets are formed based on their orientation, not the other way around. There’s a variety of wide avenues and tiny alleyways all throughout the Medieval part of the Genoa.

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Our first Architecture of the City exercise required us to map out the city based on memory. We only had this view for reference.

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I gave it a try and placed more emphasis on the significant buildings that I knew were there. I started out based on my most familiar directions (the street in front of my apartment at San Lorenzo). It was a difficult task, but fun to figure out how much you think you know about a city when exploring it for a few days.

From the Wolfsoniana collection in Nervi.
From the Wolfsoniana collection in Nervi.

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Piazza Ferrari is the centripetal force of the city, pinning down the old city and rectifying the axes to the new part of town with roads like Via XX di Settembre. The design of the Agorà Fountain sets the precedent for the other Piazzas that are built along the ends of each road to give the city some unity. This Piazza is very irregular in shape, but the circular fountain serves to give you the illusion that it’s a perfect circle.

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Upon leaving Piazza Ferrari and continuing on the city’s most populous street, Via XX di Settembre, you witness the end of the old city and the beginning of the new city. This is marked by the arch, or a part of the old wall that was rebuilt based on the pre-existing structure.

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Buildings start becoming less Medieval and more elaborately decorated as you walk up the avenue and leave the old city.

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View down towards Piazza Ferrari from the top of the arch.

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Here’s Piazza della Vittoria, the new center for the post-Renaissance part of the city, centralized by a gateway arch that was built during the Fascist regime.

From the Wolfsoniana collection in Nervi.
From the Wolfsoniana collection in Nervi.

They followed through with their plans of the central rectangle that would redefine Europe’s old banking capital. Stylized with arches and large buildings, the endpoint was seasoned with public green space.

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From the Wolfsoniana collection in Nervi.

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