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Stop-over presentation: Savona

First stop of the cruise: Savona, town in Liguria.

Located between Nice and Genoa, Savona has a rich heritage that is worth a visit!


A little bit of history...

Savona is the Roman Savo of ancient Liguria, where, according to Livy, Mago Barca, son of Hamilcar and younger brother of Hannibal hid his treasure during the 2nd Punic War.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Savona was destroyed by the Lombard king Rothari in 641.

The entire history of Savona is that of a long struggle against Genoa. In the 12th century Savona built an important port, but in the 16th century the Genoese, fearing that Francis I of France intended to make it a major trading center in the Mediterranean, made it unusable by sinking their ships using large stones.

In 1746, Savona was taken by the King of Piedmont-Sardinia, but was annexed to the Republic of Genoa according to the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which ended the War of the Austrian Succession.

Massena à Genes
Massena à Gènes

During the 2nd Italian campaign, the heights of the city were the subject of several battles, in particular on April 6 and April 13, 1800, with Austrian troops seeking to clear a path to besiege Genoa held by Massena, who capitulated there. June 5, 1800.

From 1809 to 1812, Pope Pius VII was a state prisoner there on the orders of Napoleon I.

In 1815, Savona was annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia, in which it took its place in the unified Italy in 1861.

My selection of sites to visit

Priamar Fortress: arriving from the sea, one of the first things you notice in Savona is the imposing Priamar Fortress; it was built from 1542 to 1544 on the site which constituted one of the first inhabited districts of the city. It initially had a defensive function, which explains the austere appearance of its exterior walls, but it changed functions over the centuries, the best known being that of a prison during the Risorgimento. More than a castle, as it is sometimes defined, it is a defensive complex which includes several buildings. Today it houses the Archaeological Museum, the Sandro Pertini and Renata Cuneo Museum, seat of the municipal theater's summer opera season.

The Sandro Pertini Art Museum was inaugurated in 1991 on the first floor of the Palazzo della Loggia, following the wish of the president (1978-1985) to donate his collection of works of art to Savona. There you can mainly find works by contemporary artists such as Joan Miro or Giorgio de Chirico.

La torre del Brancale: for locals it is "la Campanassa", an affectionate name that it owes to its large 14th century bell which marks the most important events in the city. It is a massive medieval tower located on the seafront which was once an integral part of the city walls. Its construction dates back to the 12th century. The interior is only visited by appointment. Next to the tower is the 14th-century Palazzo degli Anziani, where a collection of tombstones and inscriptions from demolished or destroyed buildings in central Savona is kept.

The Sistine Chapel: the Sistine Chapel in Savona was commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV to honor his parents. Initially, it only housed the family tomb, decorated with sparse decorations.

Coupole de la chapelle Sixtine de Savone
Coupole de la chapelle Sixtine de Savone

The chapel completely changed its appearance in the 18th century, with the addition of frescoes and rococo decorations. It is located next to the Cathedral of the Assumption which dates from the 17th century. The pontifical apartments where Pope Pius VII was locked up as a prisoner of Napoleon are also part of this complex.

The Pinacoteca Civica: the collection of the Pinacoteca Civica offers an exceptional testimony to the artistic development of Savona and Liguria from the 14th to the 20th century.

The itinerary extends over two floors with a complete exhibition route on painting and sculpture from the 14th century to the present day which, thanks to the link with the Milani/Cardazzo contemporary art collection and the Ceramics Museum, constitutes today one of the most important Italian museum complexes.

Among the jewels of the collections, the Crucifixion of Donato de Bardi, a masterpiece of Renaissance painting, and a collection of icons representing the Madonna with three hands instead of two holding the Child Jesus in her arms.

The works brought together by the Savona writer Milena Milani and the gallery owner Carlo Cardazzo close the itinerary: a selection of the most important moments of international contemporary art, which includes, among others, Picasso, Mirò, Magritte, De Chirico, Fontana.

The Ceramics Museum: through the exhibition, we discover the fascinating world of ceramics: tiles ("laggioni") from the 15th and 16th centuries, majolica inspired by oriental porcelain, the technological evolution of the 19th century, the artistic revolution of the 20th century and contemporary design.

Some local personalities...

Savona is called the City of the Popes because, in the 15th century, Pope Sixtus IV (the one who commissioned the Sistine Chapel in Rome) and Julius II were born in the surrounding villages.

Le pape Sixte IV. Titien. 1546 . Galerie des offices. Florence
Le pape Sixte IV. Titien. 1546 . Galerie des offices. Florence

Gabriello Chiabrera, born June 18, 15521 in Savona and died October 14, 1638, was an Italian poet of the late Renaissance, sometimes called the “Italian Pindar.” ". A small extract from one of his poems: "On the earth here below, the pilgrim, goaded by different charms every hour, provides by leading astray his way to those who desire treasures, to those who obtain the honors, to those who love each other with fervor of vague beauty”.

Culinary foray...

Acciughe al Verde (green anchovies): Anchovies are very popular in Ligurian cuisine. Acciughe al verde are anchovies marinated in a green sauce made from parsley, garlic and vinegar.

Acciughe al verde
Acciughe al verde

Farinata: A pancake made from chickpea flour, water, olive oil and salt. It is baked and can be enjoyed as a snack or side dish. It looks devilishly like Nice socca.

Cima alla Genovese: A stuffed meat specialty made with veal, eggs, cheese, vegetables and herbs. It is cooked slowly and served cold in slices.

In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the 19th century in France...


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