Genoa

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Genoa is the capital of Liguria and the sixth largest city in Italy, with a population of 608,676 within its administrative limits on a land area of 243.6 km2 (94 sq mi). The urban zone of Genoa extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 718,896. The urban area of Genoa has a population of 800,709. In the metropolitan area live between 859,000 and 1.4 million or 1.5 million people. Genoa is one of Europe's largest cities on the Mediterranean Sea and the largest seaport in Italy.

Genoa has been nicknamed la Superba ("the Superb one") due to its glorious past and impressive landmarks. Part of the old town of Genoa was inscribed on the World Heritage List (UNESCO) in 2006 (see below). The city's rich art, music, gastronomy, architecture and history, allowed it to become the 2004's European Capital of Culture. It is the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.

Genoa, which forms the southern corner of the Milan-Turin-Genoa industrial triangle of north-west Italy, is one of the country’s major economic centres. The city, since the 19th century, hosts massive shipyards, oil refineries and steelworks, while its solid financial sector dates back to the Middle Ages. The Bank of Saint George is among the oldest in the world, as it was founded in 1407, playing an important role in the city’s prosperity from the middle of the 15th century. Today a number of leading Italian companies are based in the city, including Fincantieri, Ansaldo Energia, Ansaldo STS and Edoardo Raffinerie Garrone.

Genoa's historic centre is one of the widest of Europe (about 400.000 m2). The structure of its oldest part is articulated in a maze of squares and narrow caruggi (typical genoese alleys). It joins a medieval dimension with following 16th-century and baroque interventions (San Matteo square and the ancient via Aurea, now via Garibaldi).

Remains of the ancient 17th-century walls are still visible nearby San Lorenzo cathedral, the most attended place of worship of Genoa.

The symbols of the city are the Lanterna (the lighthouse) (117 m high), old and standing lighthouse visible in the distance from the sea (beyond 30 km), and the monumental fountain of Piazza De Ferrari, recently restored, out-and-out core of the city's life. Another par excellence tourist destination is the ancient seaside district of Boccadasse, with its picturesque multicolour boats, set as a seal to Corso Italia, the elegant promenade which runs along the Lido d'Albaro, and renowned for its famous ice-creams.

Just out of the city centre, but still part of the 33 kilometres of coast included in the municipality's territory, are Nervi, natural doorway to the Ligurian East Riviera, and Pegli, the point of access to the West Riviera.

The new Genoa most of all based its rebirth upon the restoration of the green areas of the immediate inland parts (among them the Regional Natural Park of Beigua) and upon the realization of facilities such as the Acquario in the Old Harbour - the biggest in Italy and one of the major in Europe - and its Marina (the tourist small port which holds hundreds of pleasure boats). All of this inside the restored Expo Area, arranged in occasion of the Columbian Celebrations of 1992.

The regained pride gave back to the city the consciousness of being capable of looking to the future without forgetting its past. The resumption of several flourishing hand-crafting activities, far-back absent from the caruggi of the old town, is a direct evidence of it.

The restoration of many of Genoa's churches and palaces in the 80's and the 90's contributed to the city's rebirth. A notable example the Renaissance Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, sitting on the top of the hill of Carignano and visible from almost every part of the city.

The total restoration of Palazzo Ducale[disambiguation needed] - once venue of doges and senators and nowadays location of cultural events - and of the Old Harbour and the rebuilding of Teatro Carlo Felice, destroyed by the Second World War bombings that only spared the neoclassic pronao of the architect Carlo Barabino, were two more points of strength for the realization of a new Genoa.

Another monument of relevant importance that has been restored to its former beauty is the monumental Cemetery of Staglieno, in which the mortal remains of several known personalities rest, among them Giuseppe Mazzini, Fabrizio De André and Oscar Wilde's wife. With its characteristic skyline that still today gives the impression of an insurmountable fortress, it is distinguished by its thick network of hill fortifications on wide walls, that in the past war times mede the cemetery impregnable both for the ground and sea attacks. Genoa could not renounce, especially as from the 1960s, to a great renewal, which as happened in several other metropolis, should necessarily get through the realization of big council houses' complexes, whose quality, utility and functionality has been and still is constroversial for those residents living there. Concerning this, the most known cases are those of the so-called "biscione", a development in the shape of a long snake, situated on the hills of the populous district of Marassi, and the one of the group of houses known as "Le Lavatrici" (the washing machines), in the district of Pra'. Because of other architectonic solutions that characterised it, since a few decades Genoa has become a sort of capital of the Italian modern architecture, as well as European. This is principally owed to Renzo Piano's work, that since the end of the 1980s has been dealing with the restoration of some of the most famous cities of the world. Piano acquired notoriety as from 1992, when Genoa hosted visitors in its Old Harbour, in occasion of the Columbian Celebrations ("Colombiadi"). The waterfront was completely restored and symbolized by the stylized "Great Bigo" (a sort of trademark of the genoese portual activity). Beyond a complete restyling of the area, the ancient portual zone nearby the Mandraccio opening, in Porta Siberia, was scenographically enriched by Piano himself with a big sphere made of metal and glass, installed in the port's waters, not far from the Acquario, and unveiled in 2001 in occasion of the G8 Summit held in Genoa. The sphere (called by the citizens "Piano's bubble' or "the ball"'"), after hosting an exposition of fens from Genoa's Botanical Gardens, houses now the reconstruciton of a tropical environment, with several plants, little animals and butterflies. Piano also projected the subway's stations and, in the hills area, the construction - in collaboration with UNESCO - of Punta Nave, base of the "Renzo Piano Building Workshop".

Nearby the Old Harbour the so-called "Matitone" can be seen, especially by who crosses the city centre by way of the elevated road (the "Sopraelevata"), controversial as well as peculiar skyscraper in shape of a pencil, that lays side by side with the group of the WTC towers, core of the San Benigno development, today base of part of the Municipality's administration and of several companies.
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