Genoa, from the Rosazza Gardens
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Our present position is in a belvedere situated in the highest part of these lovely gardens, whose rare and gorgeous plants, and beautiful fountains, throwing " their loosened silver in the air," make it a charming place for a stroll. Only a fringe of these gardens, with the road leading down into the city, can be seen at our feet. We are looking upon the city in early springtime ; but then you might have known that without being told, for you will not fail to notice that tree in bloom almost within reach of our hands; but you might not know, unless I told you, that that square stone structure to the left of the tree, which looks so like a huge chimney, is a reservoir and water-tower whose contents arc used to water the gardens in dry seasons.
The roof of the house seen over the top of those blossoming trees belongs to an apartment house which is occupied by clerks and skilled mechanics who pay about one hundred francs a month for five rooms. Considering the low wages paid in Genoa, this is rather high rent, but even this amount would not pay the owner interest on his investment, since the taxes are ten per cent.
Over the left-hand extremity of this roof is seen the dome of a large circular building surrounded by rectangular wings. That is a public school building and is arranged in this fashion in order that most of the classrooms may have light and air from three sides ; the large central rooms are used for the library and assembly rooms and are enclosed with glass doors. The building to the left of this is a dormi-tory belonging to the school, in which the teacher and boarding pupils have their rooms. The school was founded and endowed by the Duke of Galliera. The gardens seen over the roof of the dormitory be-long to the Doria Palace. But, you ask, what of the little round tower with the peaked roof that lifts itself so saucily over the foliage of the garden? Well, that is beside a railroad track and has nothing to do with the garden. It is a railway signal-tower, and, if you look a short distance to the right of the tower and directly over the dome of the public school, you will see the low, curved roof of the rail-way station-the Statione Principe-or, as we would say, the Central Station.
We are looking into the rear of the station, and in front of its entrance is the Piazza Acquaverde, on the north side of which, and at the base of that hillside, is the famous statue of Christopher Columbus, which Mark Twain's guide, with all his enthusiasm, failed to make him appreciate. Christopher Columbus was probably born in Genoa, although there are other places that claim this distinction.
The pedestal of the statue is adorned with the prows of vessels, and Columbus, leaning upon an anchor, points his right hand to a figure of America kneeling at his feet. Below are four allegorical figures rep-resenting Wisdom, Religion, Science and Strength, and between them are represented scenes of his checkered career.
The fourth large building to the right of the Central Station, and seen on a line between us and the highest part of the distant mountain range, is the new Dogana or Custom House. That structure is almost wedge-shaped, with the small edge of the wedge, containing three stories and having three windows each, pointed toward us. Just back of the Dogana, in the form of a hollow square, are the extensive buildings of the Arsinale di Marina. That was formerly the Marine Arsenal, and the old Darsena, or war harbor in which Fiesco was drowned in 1547, is to the right of these buildings and just beyond the limits of our vision.
The long, low buildings with one story and black roofs seen on the right of the Custom House and separated from it by a street are bonded warehouses, and they are built on the street which runs along the water front. The large white-faced structure, seen over the roofs of the warehouses and Magazine, is the Royal Palace (" Pa.-Reale " on the map), erected in the seventeenth century. It contains handsome staircases and is richly furnished. The view of the town and harbor from its balconies is fine. The building on the left of the palace is the S. Carlo University (see map).
Now let us go back again to the Central Station and view that terraced hillside on its left, with the city lying at its feet, and picture to ourselves the magnificent harbor spread out before it, and beyond a blue expanse which fades away to southern shores. Surely this is an ideal spot -a paradisic suburb to Genova la Superba.
Only the wealthy can have villas here, the smallest structure costing not less than five thousand dollars, and from that, in an ascending scale, the expense is almost limitless, being determined by the character of the structure and the adornment which is lavished upon it. Halfway up the hillside and facing the statue you will observe a fine marble church with a tower, and on the summit of the hill is seen the dome of the Observatory and headquarters of the Weather Bureau. Cable cars ascend the hill from the city, the fare being five cents. I have stood at night in front of the station at the foot of the monument of Christopher Columbus and looked up at this ter-raced hillside, covered as it is with magnificent mansions whose windows were gleaming with light ; and again, at sunset, I have beheld it from the harbor, and it seemed to me then, and it has been my conviction ever since, that I have rarely beheld a more beautiful sight.
Limited as we are in our points of observation, there is yet one place to which every visitor to the city directs his steps and of which a Genoese boasts more than he does of the city's glorious churches or of its innumerable and sumptuous palaces - the Campo Santo, which is situated about a mile beyond that ridge in the direction of those mountains on the right.