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General information on Genoa

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Inventions & discoveries: (a short list of things discovered or invented by Genoa natives)


  • Americas: discovered by mistake by Cristoforo Colombo.
  • Banking: invented in Genoa; a town which has the earliest notary minute books that have survived, XIII Century.
  • Blue Jeans: invented after the name of the color of material coming from Genoa: blue-Genoa; blue-Jeans.
  • Culture: help for writers: in Genoa’s prisons Marco Polo had all the time to dictate the story of his Journey to the East, Il Milione (dictating it to a friend). He was held in the¬†underground prison of Palazzo San Giorgio,¬†the first “public” palace of the Republic of Genoa dated 1260 (the wider part with the painted facade was built in 1571) .
  • Genoa: the name of the first cricket and football club in Italy (1893, year of the publication of Frege’s Grundgesetze der Arithmetik.
  • Genoa: kind of sail well known to sailors.
  • Marron Glac√©s: invented (1790) when the hills around Genoa were covered with chestnut trees. Used later also in France.
  • Moto Guzzi¬† The¬†first Guzzi motorbike was originated by the energy (in ideal and money) of a Genovese aviator, Giorgio Parodi (1897-1955) – who had three silver medals for his war enterprises.¬†Fond of race bikes, he¬†asked his father to lend¬†some money to form a new firm with his friend, the mechanics Carlo Guzzi, in 1921. Giorgio Parodi¬† didn’t want his name on the logo, leaving it with the symbol of an eagle and the name “Moto Guzzi” ¬†(the name of the firm was¬†decided to be “Societ√† Anonima Moto Guzzi”: either Giorgio Parodi¬†¬†was shy or he feared the company could fail, damaging the family reputation). However, the first Guzzi motorbike (that you can¬†see in the Guzzi¬†history¬†museum) has two letters at its side: “G.P.” These letters stand for “Guzzi” and “Parodi”, the now anonymous Genovese founder of the enterprise.
  • Pasta: nobody knows for certain who invented pasta, but one of the oldest documents about pasta is a notary document of a wood maker who writes, in 1244, of “pasta made into strings”. However in commercial documents of Genovese trade between 1157 and 1170 there are references to “Sicilian pasta”. The Genoveses¬†were so well known for their ability to make pasta that even “maestri lasagnari” (lasagna makers) in Venice invited the Genovese Paolo Adami, to teach them the art of making “paste fini all’uso di Genova”.
    • Macaroni: in his last will dated 1274 the Genovese Ponzio Bastone leaves to his heirs “a chest full of macaroni”.
    • Lasagne pasta was a well-founded craft in the Middle Age in Genoa, and certainly well done in 1316. Special: “lasagne al pesto”
    • Pasta: Ravioli: (see also NYT) invented by the “Ravioli” family, in Gavi Ligure
  • St.George’s Flag: Attested since 1099 [first Crusade, used by the Genovese Gugliemo Embriaco]. In 1992 the Duke of Kent is reported to say: “The St. George’s flag, a red cross on a white field, was adopted by England and the City of London in 1190 for their ships entering the Mediterranean to benefit from the protection of the Geonoese fleet. The English Monarch paid an annual tribute to the Doge of Genoa for this privilege.” It seems that English Monarchs stopped paying, maybe with the excuse¬†that Genoa is no more an independent Republic.
  • Vespa Few people know that the famous Italian motorbike has its origin in Genoa. In 1884 the Genovese Rinaldo Piaggio founded Piaggio & C. ¬†that developed¬†later aircraft production. After the First ¬†World War, with the crisis of aircraft industry, Enrico Piaggio (born in Genoa, 1905) decided to increase the production with motorbikes and¬†asked the Engineer Corradino D’Ascanio to make a project of a new motorbike. In front of the prototype¬†¬† Enrico Piaggio is reported to say: “sembra una vespa!” (“it looks like a wasp!”). ¬†It was 1946.



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