The City Of Iridescent Lights

The City Of Iridescent Lights

If Stephen King would have been born in Italy, maybe he would have chosen Genova (Genoa) as the city of his novels. Like Derry, the literary transposition of King’s hometown Bangor, Genova gives the impression of hiding mysterious features, as if under its modern and renovated city dress, it hides an ancient and haunted body. You don’t need a pair of writer’s eyes for taking notice of this contradiction. It’s enough to walk the historical streets in the centre, looking around. Wide and bright streets are crossed with narrow and lopsided alleys, where high and decadent palaces are built so close to each other that not a single ray of light filters through, and you could jump from one’s window and find yourself in the opposite building. In a few hundred meters from Galleries and Foundations, on Via della Maddalena and on the side streets of Via del Campo, stocky prostitutes sit on the stair landings of ancient houses waiting for clients.

A legend narrates that Genova derives from Janus, the two-faced god, for its overlooking the sea while being encircled by mountains. From the docks of the seaport you can see that city literally climbs up the sides of the mountains Val Bisagno and Val Polcevera, giving life to an extraordinary union between the nature and man’s work. But Genova has more than these two faces, since it possesses within itself other, smaller cities. The seaport zone looks like Amsterdam, the shabby alleys like Naples. Together with Bologna this is one of the most communist cities in Italy, but if in the Emilian capital the collectivism is a synonym for power and money, here that ideology leads to rage and rebellion. These multiple identities make Genova perfectly fit for a set of a noir or a thriller. Maybe a horror flick too. What happened in the G8 in 2001 doesn’t go too far from that.

And then comes the Genovese. In the common Italian opinion they are indomitably stingy, for some people they’re just thrifty. For sure they are introvert and rebellious, the mirror of their city. Dante Alighieri put them in Hell (“Men at variance / of every virtue, full of every vice” – Inferno, Canto XXXIII), the famous architect Renzo Piano brings them in an antechamber of Heaven, changing the city in a destination for the lovers of modern architecture. Heaven and Hell. In the end, Genova belongs to both of them.

Antonio Leggieri – Images from him, Simon Falvo and Emilio Pereira