italy 9: from genoa to florence, across the tuscan green

Genoa and Christopher Columbus

As I approach the west coast, the Apennine mountains lead directly into the sea, covered in spring flowers with rivers snuggled in its deep crevices. Bridges on huge pillars stand over deep valleys. One of these most spectacular engineering feats bridges over the city of Genoa. Apartment blocks built directly into the face of the rocks seem to jut out from the hills. There is a three to four year waiting period for these homes. Genoa is the largest port in Italy and the centre for its cruising industry. Its population of one million is mainly involved in activities related to the harbour. Once a maritime republic, the city lays claim to one of the most famous captains through time, Christopher Columbus, who after being exiled from Genoa, went to Monaco and found himself a new home there. It was very difficult for Columbus to get funding as no one believed his theory that the earth was round and not flat. Despite numerous obstacles he departed from Barcelona and visited the new world twice. The captain died a complete pauper. Continue reading

italy 4: italy and the italian … young country in an ancient nation

This and that about the Italian

Though Italy is a Catholic country and 90 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, only 18 percent are practising Catholics. Their relationship with the Church is limited to that of attending family events and the local priests blessing their homes during Easter. When faced with a problem, the Italians do not turn to religion to resolve their problems. Their  strongest social structure and support system is the ‘family’. A fountain head of love and affection, the family is also the ultimate home and source for jobs and money. It always comes through, in good times and bad. Italian families get together often and at all times remain in contact. To be a noble family in Italy one needs to be related to the Pope. There are now only four to five such families left in the country. A predominant characteristic in the Italian personality is ‘charm’. It is a way of life. And did you know that Pinocchio was in fact a character from Italian fables. Continue reading

italy 3: italy and the italian … young country in an ancient nation

That and this about Italy

Surrounded on three sides by the seas [Tyrrhenian, Adriatic and the Mediterranean aka the water between the lands] and shielded by the Alps in the north, Italy is a land of mountains with the Apennine range cutting through it lengthwise. Sicily and Sardinia, Italy’s two major islands, together with a number of smaller ones cluster around the mainland. Covering an area of 301,338 sq. kilometres, the country has a population of 57 million people, with 4 million living in Roma.

Italy completely encloses two independent countries—the Vatican and San Marino—the two smallest nations in the world. The latter, a mere 60 sq. kilometres in area and with a population of 21,000, was founded by Marino, a stone-cutter in the 4th Century and has been an independent republic since the 9th Century. The Vatican City, an independent papal State constituted in 1929 as an enclave in Rome, includes the Vatican [the papal residence consisting of a group of buildings] and St. Peter’s Basilica. It covers an area of 0.438 sq. kilometres and has a population of 1,000. Continue reading