Monthly Archives: September 2015

Quote of the week

“We cannot despair of humanity, since we ourselves are human beings.”
(Albert Einstein)


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Posted by on September 30, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Genoa – part 2

Palace Angelo Giovanni Spinola, built in the second half of the sixteenth century for the then Ambassador of the Genoa Republic in Spain, as well as personal banker of emperor Carlo V of Asburg,  was later enlarged on the back and on the ground floor by his son Giulio.
The facade is typical with bottom and top railings elegant cornice, with frescos by Lazzaro Calvi and Lazzaro Tavarone, some barely visible, celebrating their clients, in fact the various members of the noble family appear dressed as Roman leaders, a clear allusion to the value and the size of the lineage.

In the atrium, Stories of Alexander, of Lazzaro Tavarone, and Portraits of Spinola with mythological figures in the spandrels. In the building at the time of the first transfer of ownership to the Bank of France, there was a magnificent collection of paintings by Cappuccino, of Sarzana, Cambiaso, Tintoretto, Jacopo Ponte, Bassano, Raggi, Padovanino, Vanni, Guido Reni, Domenico Piola, Asseretos, Carlone, Luino, Rubens, Procaccini, Van Dick. In 1928, it was sold to the Bank of America and Italy, so it was possible to visit just the entrance hall, being the banks closed on sundays.  

Another building owned by a bank, thus closed as well, is Palace Pallavicini Cambiaso. Built for Agostino Pallavicino in 1558, the palace was owned by the family until the second half of the eighteenth century, then sold to the Cambiaso family. In 1921 he underwent a new change of ownership, in this case also changing use, from private home to offices, with the purchase of the entire building by the Bank of Naples, and then to 
the Banca Popolare di Brescia.

It seems that only private banks have enough money to buy old buildings because another example is Palace Giacomo Spinola Luccoli in Piazza Fontane Marose. Built by Giacomo Spinola between 1445 and 1459 is another historic palace registered in the Rolli list. It’s sold and bought many times but at the beginning of the nineteenth century it’s owned by the Spinola again. Located at the corner of the square Luccoli, a thirteenth century strategic location because it is close to the port of St. Catherine, it has a facade of colored bands and niches with marble statues of illustrious family members, three of which (the first, second and fourth from left) made ​​by Domenico Gagini from Bissone.

Situated in the heart of the city between the historical and the modern center, Piazza De Ferrari is renowned for its fountain, which was restored in recent years along with a major restyling of the square.Today next to Piazza De Ferrari are numerous office buildings, headquarters of banks, insurances and other private companies, making of this district the financial and business centre of Genoa, so that Genoeses popularly refer to it as the “City” of Genoa. At the end of the 19th century Genoa was the main financial centre of Italy along with Milan, and Piazza De Ferrari was the place where many institutions were established, like the stock exchange, the Credito Italiano Bank and the branch offices of the Bank of Italy, founded in 1893.

The new city wall, that surrounded the three areas of the city, namely the castrum which developed on the Castle hill, the civitas, built around the Cathedral of St. Lawrence and the burgus, shopping area around the monastro San Siro, were built in the twelfth century to defend the independence of the Republic of the expansionist intentions of the Emperor Barbarossa, from which they took their name. The realization of this work, which was finished in record time between 1155 and 1159, is due to the materially and financially partecipation of the vast majority of the inhabitants. In 1161 were built the 3 doors (along with two towers) called Soprana, Aurea (now disappeared) and the Holy Faith . Porta Soprana (Soprana Gates) lead to the entrance of the city for anyone who came from the east. 

Below, the Museum Luzzati. Seat of the museum is the old gate of the pier Porta Siberia, designed and built by the architect Galeazzo Alessi in the sixteenth century. It was restored in 1992 with the whole area of the Old Port designed by Genoese architect Renzo PianoThe door was used in the 80s, before restoration, for musical performances by Circle Art and Music. Today it houses the museum, the City of Genoa in 2001 wanted to call it after the set designer and illustrator Genovese Emanuele Luzzati

The Palazzo San Giorgio is located in a square looking on the Old Port. The palace was built in 1260 by Guglielmo Boccanegra, uncle of Simone Boccanegra, the first Doge of Genoa. For the construction of the new palace, materials were used from the demolition of the Venetian embassy in Constantinople, having been obtained from Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII as a reward for Genoese aid against the Latin Empire. Stone lions, the emblem of Venice’s patron St Mark were displayed as trophies on the facade by her bitter rival, the Republic of Genoa. The palace was intended — through the creation of a civil-political center — to separate and elevate the temporal power of the Republic’s government from the religious power of the clergy, centered on the Cathedral of San Lorenzo. In 1262, Guglielmo Boccanegra was deposed and forced into exile. The palace was used for a time as a prison; Marco Polo was its most famous resident and it was there that he dictated his memoirs to Rustichello of Pisa.

The Old Port is a part of the port of Genoa currently used as a residential neighborhood, with cultural and services centers. His rehabilitation was completed in the early nineties on the surface of what was once the heart of port activity – the kingdom of “camalli” (genoese for dockers)  that were part of the Society of Caravana (dockers corporation) – and that had remained unused for many decades. Today is in fact a huge square overlooking the sea, where there are established, in addition to the aquarium, many interesting sights, museums, exhibitions and entertainment, over an area of about 230,000 square meters, making it the largest city square. The area, is also commonly known as “Expo”, having hosted exhibitions of ‘ Expo ’92 Genova. Its total restoration was completed in 1992 upon a project of  architect Renzo Piano , on the occasion of the celebrations of the fifth centenary of the discovery of America.

Just one day, including a wedding, wasn’t surely enough. Genoa has so many treasures to show to visitors interested in history and italian culture. Well, I have family there, so I don’t need excuses to be back, right?

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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Sweet or salted?

Ingredients: Per 4 servings

For pasta

  • 7 oz all-purpose flour
  • 3 ½ oz sugar
  • 3 ½ oz butter
  • water to taste
  • 1 egg yolk

For filling

  • ¾ oz sugar
  • 1 mozzarella cheese
  • ¾ oz grated Pecorino cheese
  • 4 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 ½ oz Caciotta cheese
  • 2 ½ oz ham
  • 3 eggs
  • extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • salt to taste

Place the flour on a pastry board. Mix with the sugar and shape into a well. Add an egg yolk, a pinch of salt and room temperature butter, cut into small pieces.

Knead until the dough is soft and uniform. Then, shape the dough into a ball and let rest in a cool place covered with a linen or cotton cloth for about an hour.

Pass the ricotta through a sieve and collect in a bowl. Add the caciotta, mozzarella and the ham, all diced. Mix well, then add the sugar, grated pecorino, a whole egg and an egg yolk. Stir well.

Divide the dough into two parts, a larger and a smaller one.

Roll out the dough until 1/10 inch thick using a rolling pin, then cut out two disks.

Grease a tart pan mold and line with the larger disk, so that the dough falls over the edges. Add the filling level off with a spatula.

Cover with the smaller disc and fold the edge of the bottom layer of dough back towards the center of the tart to close. Beat an egg with a spals of water and brush the surface of the tart to seal it and give it an attractive golden color. Bake in a 350° F oven for about an hour and serve.

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Posted by on September 28, 2015 in Uncategorized



Genoa – part 1

I’ve always had family members living in Genoa, on both side, mom’s and dad’s. So, since I was a kid, I’ve been there several times, but usually at my relatives’ homes and just around it, never like a real tourist…My cousin Giulia wedding finally gave me this opportunity, at least for the streets we walked through going from one place to another….and leaving me with the feeling of wanting to see and know more…

Palazzo Tursi-Doria is the place where the wedding ceremony was held, so I had plenty of time to look around…

Palazzo Doria-Tursi  is a building in the historic center of Genoa , entered in 2006 in the list of the 42 palaces enrolled to the Rolli of Genoa  on that date becoming Heritage of humanity of the UNESCO. The palace was built from 1565 by Domenico and Giovanni Ponzello for Niccolò Grimaldi prince of Salerno and duke of Eboli, called “the monarch” thanks to the ranks of noble titles of which he could boast, and which included the many claims he had on Philip II , of whom he was the main banker. It is the most solemn of this historic street, built on three lots of land, with two large gardens framing the central body. The spacious balconies overlooking the street were added in 1597, when the building became the property of Giovanni Andrea Doria who acquired it for the younger son Charles, Duke of Tursi , thus its present name. During the eighteenth century, still a property of the Doria family, but abandoned by the owners, it had the opportunity to host the Duc de Richelieu (1747), the Duke of York (1763) and the Infanta Maria Teresa of Parma (1780).

In 1820 it was bought by the Savoy for the stay in Genoa of Vittorio Emanuele I, but because of his death it was used only by the widow Maria Teresa. Since 1838 and for a decade it was the site of the Jesuit College; in 1848 finally it became the property of the City of Genoa.

The facade is characterized by alternating materials of different colors: the pink stone from Finale , the gray-black of slate , the white of the precious Carrara marble . The main facade consists of two overlapping orders. The mezzanine above the large plinth alternates windows from the original design with rustic jutting pilasters, replaced upstairs with doric ones. Mascarons with bestial grimaces surmount the windows of both floors, contributing to the plastic rendering of the facade. The portal is crowned by a marble coat of arms of Genoa .

Especially innovative is the new and ingenious architectural solution that with the succession of interior spaces – lobby, staircase, rectangular yard elevated above the porch and double staircase – creates a wonderful play of light and perspective. The building represents the culmination of residential splendor of the Genoese aristocracy, as witnessed by the interior decorations, the paintings, part of the museum collection of the White Palace or as seen in the Diplomatic Reception Room in the frescoes and paintings.

The Diplomatic Reception Room, where all the weddings ceremonies take place, is really a feast for the eyes….

….with the ubiquitous presence of Christopher Columbus….

Located on the right side of Palazzo Tursi,and as well listed in the Rolli of Genoa, another beautiful palazzo, home of Nicolosio Lomellino, representative of the noble Genoese family that had many of its interests in the island of Tabarca in the coral trade.

It was built between 1559 and 1565 by Giovanni Battista Castello said the “Bergamasco” and Bernardo Canton at the behest of Nicolosio Lomellino, a member of a family in full economic and political ascent.  At the beginning of the seventeenth century the estate was transferred to the Centurione family that made ​​an internal restructuring, then to the Pallavicini , the Raggi and finally Andrea Podesta, several times mayor of Genoa between 1866 and 1895. The facade , where one can feel the strong presence of the Bergamasco, is animated by a rich decoration in stucco, with winged female herms, to support the cornice of the ground floor;  tapes and drapes to hold, on the first floor, war trophies; garlands and masks crowning the windows, with classical figures within oval medallions on the second.

Beyond the large main door, it opens up an oval-shaped atrium, whose short sides house four small lacunar exhedrae. Between one exhedra and the other, there are pairs of Ionic herms, alternated with panels surmounted by a small obelisk. A precious ceiling with fanciful stucco decorations features a medallion at the centre, representing a warlike feat of bravery according to the most ancient and reputed iconography, whereas the globes placed around it represent different views of the subject of the imperator and his liberality, after Müller Profumo’s interpretation. An imaginary fabric hangs around the central oval and connects the various medaillons with elegant swirls, vegetal swags, weapon trophies, small putti. Stucco decorations are Sparzo’s handworks, but the design of this room and the décor are likely to be ascribed again to the genius of the Bergamasco, whose style is manifest in the bizarre typology of the herms, peculiar of the mannerist style of this artist.
Prior to the last restoration works, the atrium was dulled by an ochre-greenish colour painting which did not help a clean-cut interpretation of the various elements; today the cleaning of the surfaces and some restoration works gave back the stucco decorations their original white and light-blue shades.

The scenographic nymphaeum is placed at the end of the junction axis among the atrium, the entrance hall and the courtyard. This type of “rustic fountain” points to the evolution of the local taste, which during the 17th century turns the traditional artificial caves of the sixteenth century into open nymphaea overlooking the natural spaces. This nymphaeum was likely built by Pallavicini family right after the purchase of the Palace (1711) and represents one of the décor works to modernize the residence along with the frescoes on the second state floor.  The majestic look of the fountain – which exploits the water coming from the water tank located on the hill of Castelletto at the rear – was a project from Domenico Parodi, then carried out by Biggi. The height of this nymphaeum is carefully devised to give continuity to the Palace and the rearward hill, thus creating a ‘trompe l’oeil’ of two nymphaea in an iconographical relation one with the other, the first at the courtyard level and the second one above the terrace.

The vault of the big nymphaeum is supported by two giant tritons, who framed a scene inspired to the myth of Phaeton which unfortunately got lost. The young Phaeton, son of the Sun, upon insistence was allowed to drive just for one day his father’s cart but, being unable to hold up the fiery horses, he burned out of rash the Sky and the Earth, and for this reason Zeus hit him with a lightning and made him fell into a river. During the restoration works, the fountain has been carefully cleaned and brought back to its original splendour, to catch the attention of the visitors and fascinate them.

The garden, right from its beginnings formed on different layered levels shelved on the hillside of Castelletto, underwent during the eighteenth century, together with the Palace, a major change at the courtyard level and of the first piece of terracing.

Comparing the plans by Rubens and by Gauthier there was clearly an enlargement of the courtyard space for embellishment, obtained by excavating and moving back the retaining wall on the first level of the garden, thus giving more space to the backdrop which would later host the nymphaeum.
The historian Lauro Magnani traces back to the Parodi direction in order to date the entire relief model construction in the garden: such as the satyrs on the balustrade which faces on to the first layer of terracing, and the five statues which dominate the garden from height of the retaining wall on the second level. Here the theme of Bacchus predominates: two female figures and three male ones, amongst which there is probably also Dionysus, play bagpipes, flutes and other musical instruments. The retaining wall on the second level of the garden is occupied in the centre by a niche: here a stone pool is decorated by an enormous Silenus in stucco, busy pouring wine in the fountain water from an amphora in to the mouth of Bacchus. On the western side a grotto opens out, with stalactites and shells, inside the cave a wild boar is trying to hide whilst being hunted by Adonis.  At the centre of the ‘parterre’ there is a circular pool in white marble with a small Hercules in the middle fighting with a snake, this can also be attributed to the Parodi period.

The palace was open for inside visits, but unfortunately we handn’t enough time, we were just waiting for the newlywed to finish their professional photoshooting….

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Posted by on September 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Quote of the week

“The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.”
(Frank Clark)

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Posted by on September 23, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Scenes from a wedding

Last sunday was a very happy day for my family…..I know that these faces mean nothing to my readers and followers, but they mean the world to me, and using this blog mainly as a life diary, I like to have this kind of memories fixed forever…..

The set was in Genoa and the family member who tied the knot was my cousin Giulia, here arriving at the City Hall, happy, smiling and screaming….not the kind of bride you might be used to, but Giulia being Giulia well…we knew it would have been different, hipster style…

Waiting for her, there were her soon-to-be-husband Matteo and their little man Ernesto, crying and confused by all this noisy crowd and by this mom, who looks so different today….

Different starting from the dress, handmade by a very talented friend of her, with the bustier made from shirt collars and the shrug is a man’s shirt, cut and reversed….

Family and friends waiting for the couple to enter in the ceremony hall….

Finally it was time for them to exchange their vows…….

while little Ernesto couldn’t care less…’s just mom and dad dressed strangely and doing a strange thing…

And here they are, Mr and Mrs….

…and there’s a ring proving it, obviously not the classic wedding ring…

Tradition is that the bride must go down the stairs from the left and the groom from the right before rejoin for descending the main staircase, and hubby was there to lend a hand….or an arm in this case. My daughter (on her right) was wiser enough to wear flats….

Striking a pose….

With my mom….

The balloon says “here’s to the bride and groom” and being held by Ernesto it really means it!

After the customary photoshooting, here we are, at the “Porto Antico” (old port) for the buffet lunch at the couple favourite place

The buffet was good, plentiful, exotic, and so appetizing….

After lunch it was time for some drinks (for someone too many…) a little dance, some jokes…

and of course for the traditional tossing of the bouquet, catched by young Sofia (9 years old)…..I guess the others girls were not so happy about this, too much to wait!

Little relax time for the bride….

…or maybe not….

It was really a beautiful day, full of love, laughs, hugs, kisses, celebrating just the joy to be all together….the forecast were bad for the day, windy and cloudy, but instead the sun was shining and hot….. maybe a little intercession from up above. Your mom would have been so proud of you Giulia, and we all love you so much…..


Posted by on September 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Coffee anyone?

For the jelly

  • 4 cups coffee
  • 7 oz sugar
  • 1 oz gelatin sheets

Garnish (optional) whipped cream and pistachios to taste 


Soften the gelatin sheets in a small bowl of cold water for 5 minutes, then drain, squeeze and add to the espresso coffee you have prepared in the meantime.

Stir the mixture off the heat until the gelatin has dissolved completely, then add sugar, stirring constantly.

Strain the mixture and pour into molds. Place in refrigerator to solidify for at least 3 hours.

Then unmold the jelly, cut into slices and serve as dessert accompanied by whipped cream and chopped pistachios.

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Posted by on September 21, 2015 in Uncategorized