Traveloid by  Through Genoa, Italy

Venture forth with me and see what I see as we explore the imaginary

Genoa, one of the most significant ports of the Mediterranean, it’s human habitation dating back at least to the fifth millennium BC.

The history of more recent times starts with the Ligurians who left material evidence of their settlements there, mixing with Greeks and Etruscans in the 6th and 5th centuries BC. Described as smaller than Gauls but stronger and fiercer as warriors, they gained a notorious reputation for their mercenary skills. Be it as it may, Genoa revolved around the port and became a trading center from early times.

The origins of the name Genoa is multi faceted ,starting with the Latin word for “knee” to Etruscan “new city” but perhaps the most significant, and my personal favorite, is the association to Janus, a Roman god who represents two faces, just like Genoa, as it looks both towards the sea and towards the mountains. Besides the concept of duality, Janus is also connected to the concepts of birth, gate, passage, transition, new beginning and also the month of January.

Janus, unlike many others in Roman mythology mostly inherited from Greeks, was distinctly indigenous god and thus was present as a gatekeeper to most ceremonies, regardless of the deity being venerated on the occasion. Often starting with evoking of Janus, even the gates of a building in Rome were named after Janus who seems to have been able to live not only through the passage of time as in the start of the day, month, year, hour, solstice (in particular winter solstice as it marks a beginning) but also in space relating to doors, boundaries, passages, gates, bridges.

Genoa’s Cathedral holds the inscription “Janus, primus Rex Italiae de progenie gigantum, qui fundavit Genuam temporae Abrahae, meaning “Janus, the first King of Italy of the progeny of the giants, who founded Genoa in the days of Abraham.” It is not hard to imagine that while Janus was significant throughout Italy and surrounds, he seemed to have settled in the minds of the population more deeply in here.


Genoa, Italy
Date Winter 2017
Exploring history, Etruscans, Gauls, origins, knee, myth of janus, beginnings, gates, bridge, gothic
Connecting Marco Polo, Rubens, Caravaggio, Van Dyck, Paganini, Stendhal, VR and AR as AI progresses, Byzantium, Columbus, Crystallization of love

Charlie: As the Byzantine empire started to fade, Genoa being aware of an opportunity used a Carpe Diem attitude in negotiating and as a result accumulated great wealth. This later resulted in the city becoming a center for many artists and architects to further the boundaries of their imagination into the material world.

Earling: I want to use Janus and look into the future here because as we learn about the past the possibilities through which the future can be expressed multiply. For example, the 21st century is experiencing a merging with technology in which so many things are possible but some people view this with an impoverished mind. The Flammarion engraving for example is something that illustrates the ability to wonder about the functioning of this world. VR and AR and even AI of the 21st century are almost shielding conduits through which a human mind goes into a different dimension of their own reality.

Charlie: I could certainly imagine the population of then prospering Genoa expanding the mind as they were competing with those most ancient of status symbols, wealth and luxury, through Via Garibaldi building as they were numerous 17th century palaces with incredibly beautiful courtyards, arches, revivals of the finest architectural ideas from antiquity and decorated interiors with famous paintings. Charles Dickens wrote about the street in his travellog through Italy with the utmost awe.

Earling: Genoa was competing with Venice but collaborated with Byzantium which gave great advantage in terms of wealth and trading routes. Architecturally also it seems it inherited the heaviness of times past, invoking the infinite grand visions of Antiquity.

Charlie: Speaking of grand visions and circulation of information in those historical times, that leader in the expansion of the frontiers of known geography Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa and he gave one tenth of the wealth that he accumulated from the discovery of America to the Bank of Saint George in Genoa, one of the finest examples of external paintings on the buildings at the time.

Earling: Entering the domain of story telling and trades of which Marco Polo was a master he was imprisoned in Genoa, just behind the famous Bank of Saint George was the place where they held him. As there was a war between Venice and Genoa at the time, he used the time of his imprisonment to dictate the stories of his travel and the book “The Travels of Marco Polo” was born.

Charlie: A floating through Genoa is not complete without a mention of Genoa’s Cathedral, the Cathedral of Saint Lawrence, a truly eclectic creation in terms of architectural styles, with Gothic facade, Romanesque structure, its site goes back to the 5th and 6th centuries AD where a Roman burial ground was situated, later in it’s stead the church was built and dedicated to The Twelve Apostles. The Cathedral in the shape that we see however dates back to the 12th century, somehow surviving many fires, demolitions, construction, restorations and it’s final shape that we see today was finished in the 17th century. It contains many significant artworks, frescoes, and artefacts; also it’s seven bells are tuned in the major scale of C#.

Earling: “Beauty is the promise of happiness” Stendhal and his Crystallization of love is really very interesting. I always had prejudice towards this period in human history but his truth is way beyond his times, An object of love is less about what it is and more about what we imagine it to be as the time we invest is almost always the most important, just as with music.

Charlie: Speaking of music Paganini was born in Genoa, and lived through his brilliant music that he tamed, crystallizing the idea of an uplifted, perfect world that reflects only dimly upon the material existence of Earth.

Genoa like many cities had to endure Gothic wars, many invasions and dominance by the Frankish Empire before becoming an independent city state in the 12th century.

Banking, trading, sailing and the expression Genuensis ergo mercator (“From Genoa therefore merchants”) were born and maintained. The Republic of Genoa was independent between the 11th and 18th centuries and became well known for the accumulation of power, success in trading and this lead in turn to many notable people, among others whom were Marco Polo, Columbus, Rubens, Caravaggio, Van Dyck and later, Paganini and Stendhal all touching this place with their presence at their respective times in history.

Charlie and Earling were synchronized to explore Genoa at a point of transition timewise between last year 2017 and 2018 as a new year, just as one head of Janus looks to the past and his other head looks to the future. The whole journey for Charlie and Earling is about that way of learning about the world around them. Even though they possess the quantum computer capable of calculating anything (both the point of the future and the point of the past) based on velocity and position of the molecular world, sometimes it is much more interesting to derive conclusions without ready made answers, just as many notable people have done throughout history.

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