Genoa clings beneath the Ligurian mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, a semi-circular harbour with houses and buildings crowded into a narrow strip of coastal land between the valleys of the Polcevera and Bisagno torrents. It is a city of departures and arrivals, a place where journeys and stories begin, finish or pass through as the tale evolves.
In the thirteenth century approximately 30,000 inhabitants attempt to squeeze into the small 55 hectare area bounded by the defensive walls. Inevitably the population has spilled out into the surrounding coastal hinterland along the landward side of the old Roman coastal way, the Via Aurelia.
A city of admittedly persistent but overall practical spirituality, Genoa has a predominant Dominion aura of 3 during the day, dipping to 2 during the night with a relatively modest maximum Divine aura of 6 centred on the San Lorenzo Cathedral. The other lesser churches average a Divine aura of 4, with the old cathedral of San Siro is the only other building to have a higher rating of 5.
The dock area hides a multitude of both Faerie and Infernal auras associated with the festivity and vices of its clientele, but the lack of Roman ruins makes Magic lacunae rarer than other large medieval cities. Access to Faerie and Infernal regiones can be achieved by wandering the alleys of the caruggi leading up from the waterfront though the old districts – these narrow twisting streets crammed between old buildings are infamous as the scene for criminal activities have an Infernal aura of 2 at night when the usual Divine aura of 2 present during the day dips down to 1.
The Barbarossa Walls
Started in 1155 when the threat of Emperor Frederick I’s designs on northern Italy was at a peak, these stone defences were rapidly completed in 1163 over the course of two months through the efforts of the whole commune. Six main towers loom over the main curtain wall which in turn ends at the Castello on the southern coast. The parapets are wide enough for several men to walk abreast but the defenses are not as formidable as the great Roman walls of other Italian towns. Outside the walls, the town has a lesser Divine aura of 1 that falls away rapidly.
Three main gates pierce the current walls: the western Porto Vacca and the eastern Porto Aurea and Porto Soprano. Two other gates, the Porto San Agnese in the western wall and the Porto Murtedo in the northeast combine with 4 small “portello” or postern gates distributed along the defensive perimeter. The so-called “Gate of the Cow” (Porto Vacca) in the western wall is named after the prominent noble Vacca family that traditionally lives nearby the entrance.
The Porto Soprana and Beyond
To the southeast of the Porto Soprana lies the Foce (Ligurian: “river mouth”) district at the base of the Bisagno valley. In this fertile area lie many gardens producing the fruits and vegetables of the bisagnini (greengrocers) but the torrent is known to flood unpredictably. Upstream the smaller Lentro torrent joins the Bisagno at the point where the old Roman aqueduct begins.
In addition to the two main gates, a half dozen smaller carry lesser roads outwards to the the monasteries of Santo Stefano and San Bartolemo, the Pammatone hospital, and the perimeter road beneath the eastern walls.