Art and Culture in Liguria
According to the written sources, the presence of the Ligurians dates back to the first millennium B.C. They were spread on a large territory, mostly the north-western Italy.
This land had seen a lot of different tribes and population pass and settle for a while on its territory. The Romans left it the great Roman roads like Aurelia and Julia Augusta on the coast, which helped strengthen the territorial unity and trade. A little Ligurian town of Luni is now a famous archeological site bacause of its rich history under the Romans and other people that were settled there. Between the 4th and the 10th centuries the land was dominated by the Byzantine, the Lombards, the Franks, it was invaded by the Saracens and the Normans.
In the 10th century, at the moment of peace, Liguria was divided into three marches: Obertenga, Arduinica and Aleramica. Soon, the main Ligurian towns became city-states and Genoa very soon extended its rule over them. Between the 11th and the 15th centuries the Republic of Genoa became the most powerful maritime republic. It was the period of wealth and progress. There are a lot of ancient churches from this period that still proudly stand and show the history on their walls.
The very characteristic and antic art of weaving wool, cotton or silk in Liguria was imported from the Orient thanks to the crusades and maritime expeditions made by Ligurians in this period. It is often said that the history of Liguria in these centuries should be searched out of the land. Another characteristic hand-crafted art of this land, the filigree, was also imported to Liguria mostly from the Orient, but it became a real serious mark of Liguria, which made these ornaments of gold and silver even for the foreign countries like America and Australia.
In the centuries to come, the republic was passing from the influence of Milan, the French, the Spain, and back to the French, until it was transformed into Ligurian Republic, using as a model the French republic. After the congress of Vienna(1815), Liguria was annexed to the kingdom of Sardinia. In the Genoese rising against the House of Savoy, and the final Unification of Italy, some of the most important roles were played by famous Ligurians as Garibaldi, Mazzini, Bixio, Mameli.
This small portion of Italian land has always been a rich cradle of art and customs that attracted curious visitors from all over the world. The local folkloristic events remained until our days, and you can experience their charm in different periods of the year.
If you get a chance to visit Genoa, Savona and Pietra Ligure on Christmas, you can enjoy the public medieval spectacle "Confuoco", in Ligurian dialect O Confeugo. This is the ceremony in which the local authorities burn laurel logs in public squares in order to attract good wishes and luck for the next year.
At the same time, in La Spezia area, locals conserve meal rests which, as the legend says, should help with animal illnesses in the winter period. It is still on going tradition in the areas of Pigna, Carpasio and Montalto Ligure the offer of lambs by local shepherds.
When summer comes, during the famous National festivity on 15th August, the Festa della Michetta, in a small medieval village of Dolceacqua, it is common for young men to give as a gift a delicious local sweet to girls.
Springtime is all about the birth of flowers, the weather getting beautiful, Easter festivities. For the local event of "Cantu de ove", some coloured and decorated eggs are given in exchange for flowered peach or almond twigs. These are only few of the numerous interesting and sweet customs of the rich Ligurian tradition that remain in use.
Another well known "trade mark" of this land is their characteristic dialect. It's actually a language on its own- the Gallo-Romance language, that's also spoken in northern Italy, some parts of Mediterranean France and Monaco.
In the capital of Liguria, Genoa, people speak Zeneize dialect, which is the main Ligurian variant. Probably this language is disappearing among the younger generations, but it's still used among the older parts of the population. A famous Genoese singer and songwriter Fabrizio de André made the whole album "Creuza de ma" in this language.
In addition, you're surely gonna enjoy the splendid Ligurian architecture. The great concentration of villas and palaces in Genoa make this city a real museum. A part of Genoa called Strade Nuove became the UNESCO World Heritage Site on 13th July, 2006. All of the palaces now give hospitality to famous Genoese museums like the Doria-Tursi Palace, The White Palace, The Red Palace, The Royal Palace and The Spinola Palace. All of these museums conserve behind their gates and doors a great treasure of art left to this country from a long ago.
What else is there to say - take a trip through history and enjoy your visit!