Part of Italy’s charm is that everything within it is so darned regional. Mountains and seas have long conspired to keep people apart long enough for regional specialties to develop, and that’s what we like. There’s always something new to admire just around the corner.
Sea power Liguria has a few regional quirks that shout out “Liguria!” to me. I thought I’d point them out just in case you were standing somewhere in what you think is, perhaps, Tuscany, and then began to have doubts. Italy is not all Tuscany. Let’s get that out of the way first.
The first Ligurian specialty you see in the picture up there to the right. It’s the little piazza in front of the 18th Century Oratorio di Sant’Erasmo in Santa Margherita Ligure. The piazza is spruced up with a Ligurian specialty, the pebble mosaic.
To make a pebble mosaic, you just go out and get stones that look like miniature rugby balls, sort them for size and color, and have at it, sinking them into some sort of substrate like cement. This is called “risoèu” or “Risoèu”. Another aspect of regional and sub-regional traits is in the spelling of the name.
In any case, if you go to Santa to see this little gem of an Oratorio, you should at least peek inside and see the model ships that sailors have left as ex_votos because their lives have been spared by God during some storm or other. (David Downie of Wandering Liguria says the locals shorten “Santa Margherita Ligure” to a simple “Santa,” and so will I).
The next major Ligurian specialty I’d like to expound upon would be the faux painted houses. You see, Genoa wasn’t so rich as some of the other places that had all sorts of foo-foo design to amaze the eye, and so they cleverly trained painters to make pretend sculpture out of their bland facades.
They tell me that this Ligurian trompe-l’œil is making a comeback. You see plenty of freshly painted houses with clever designs painted to trick your eye these days.
Christopher Columbus Statues
Then of course, there’s Columbus. While Genoa claims as its own the famous man who didn’t exactly know where he landed, other towns have tried over the years to join in on the celebration. So there’s likely to be a Columbus statue in any town within spitting distance of the sea in Liguria. The one you see in the picture was sculpted in 1892 by the sculptor Odoardo Tabacchi. It’s one of the more fascinating ones. Below the famous explorer and his globe, below his ship which seems to be made of four back-ends, you’ll find some quite interesting and quite toothy dolphins.
And then there’s that clear blue Ligurian sky draped over it all.