At 11:37 am on the morning of August 14, 2018, a 200 meter stretch of Genoa’s “Morandi Bridge” suddenly bottomed-out dumping dozens of cars and trucks into the Polcevera river hundreds of feet below. When the smoke had cleared away the death toll stood at 43, making it the worse “automotive” disaster in the City’s history.
My relationship with Genoa and the Ligurians, dates from childhood. A people of Celtic origins the Liguri made great the “City of the Lantern” under the flag of Saint George during the Middle Ages. They pre-dated the Romans and were indigenous to the entire coastal region that extends from La Spezia to ‘Zena’, Nice and beyond.
I remember it vividly. It was the 1950s in January or February. Mother and I were waiting under the portico of our apartment in Bologna, Italy, for Remo, a cousin of ours who had offered to drive us all the way to Genoa, where the following morning we would board the SS Independence for the long transatlantic voyage to New York. Remo was punctual and eager to get started on the long trip to Genoa. In those days there were no highways and you had to drive all the way up to Piacenza some eighty miles to the North and then across southern Lombardy and parts of the Piedmont before swooping down on Genoa at the bottom of the Apennines. The trip took the better part of the day and we were expected at “the Rollas”, the family that had offered to put us up for the night, by dinner time. As it happens, my father Guido, had met and befriended Mario and Emilio Rolla not long after arriving in the City. In Genova, Mother and I would meet the rest of the family. After pitching my tent on this side of the Atlantic, our friendship with the Rollas continues, on both sides of the Atlantic.
This evening at 6 pm I too will be watching and toasting the new Bridge of Saint George at the inaugural ceremony presided by Mayor Bucci of Genoa, Governor Toti of Liguria and President Mattarella of Italy. Forza ‘Zena’!