Back on the train, this time on the frecciabianca from Genoa back to Rome, and a chance to jot down some thoughts from my brief trip to Genoa. First thought: get back to Genoa. Genoa is an amazing city, and well worth the time of any thoughtful traveler. The city’s extraordinary beauty springs, in part, from its extraordinary topography, and the relationships between its urbanism and architecture offer excellent examples of urban design from the Renaissance, the late nineteenth century, the Novecento and Rationalist movements of the early twentieth century, and the Brutalism of the late twentieth century. Genoa is a key node in the history of globalization based on maritime trade and transcultural exchange.
And the food is great.
I should explain the enigmatic blog post title. It’s a line from the Talking Heads’ song “(Nothing but) Flowers,” from their 1988 album, Naked. The train was rolling along the Tuscan coast south of Pisa, we’d just passed another solar farm, and “(Nothing but) Flowers” came up on my MP3 player (which, for copyright reasons, I probably can’t name, but it was made by a company whose name rhymes with “scrapple”). It seemed appropriate for a discussion of the challenge of retrofitting historic city centers to support more sustainable transportation and waste removal processes. The narrow streets and mountainous topography of Genoa’s historic center make both difficult, yet the city has accommodated them better than many Italian cities.
good solution to the paradox of cleaning the city by filling it with giant, smelly, plastic boxes.
The frecciabianca is passing the lake at Orbetello where Italo Balbo used to land squadrons of Savoia-Marchetti flying boats, and where Pier Luigi Nervi built some of the most elegant concrete hangars the world has ever seen. They’re gone now, and the quiet countryside makes it hard to believe this used to be one of Italy’s most important aircraft facilities. It resonates a bit with that Talking Heads song:
once there were parking lots
now it’s a peaceful oasis