Thursday, December 25, 2008

Gimmel Comes to Genoa

This past weekend brought the warmth of holiday cheer to our casa italiana, as we anticipated the beginning of Chanukah coupled with the opportunity to greet our very first visitor! The holiday cheer actually began for Martello on Friday evening, as an impromptu (well, at least as far as he knew; sometimes they forget to tell him stuff) Natale feste took place after hours at his office, which kept him late (and reportedly, dancing the night away). The wee hours of Friday night coupled with very long workdays this week kept Martello (and Trofie Wife, by association) in bed late on Saturday afternoon. By the time we finally got moving, the stars were beginning to shine, this being the shortest day of the year and all. Just before we headed out on a quick errand/walk through town, Mrs. Furley stopped by to make sure that our holiday decorations were hung (we did ours, then hers; matching dinky strands of tinsel unlike those of our neighbors across the way, who are displaying beautiful, fresh wreaths (as per Mrs. Furley’s protocol, we couldn’t hang ours until theirs were hung)). While we didn’t expect to be hanging Christmas decorations on our first married Chanukah (though we recognize that our doing so is providing Trofie Wife’s father with outsized joy), they’re at least more secular in nature than the iconography around the house! (In addition to the dinky tinsel, Mrs. Furley brought over a bouquet of faux poinsettia as well as a mini tree with gold balls and stars.)

The neighbor's fresh wreath

Our dinky tinsel

Sunday brought yet another lazy day, though Trofie Wife and Martello did manage to get on a train to Genoa prior to the sun setting. Since the September visit, Trofie Wife has been eagerly anticipating the Ellis Island exhibit at the Museo del Mare, located in the Porto Antico (Old Port) area, convinced that it told “the other side” of the immigration story (especially since the advertisements stressed Genoa’s importance as a departure point for so many Transatlantic ships). Unfortunately, Trofie Wife was deeply disappointed when it became clear that the exhibit was, in fact, a portable visit to Ellis Island (which she has visited several times in its rightful home). This exhibit also had a US Holocaust Museum twist, wherein visitors receive a passport upon entry, and they can follow the story of their “immigrant” and see where he or she landed (Martello wasn’t quite sure who he received, but Trofie Wife was assigned the woman in search of her lost baggage who was famously photographed by Lewis W. Hine; see The permanent collection of the museum was, thankfully, worth our visit. It tells the tale of Genoa’s rise as a port and describes the intricacies of the socioeconomic relationships (slaves, guards, rowers; see below pictures) within the system (though Trofie Wife believes that the role of women in port life—footnoted as merely members of the oldest profession—is likely severely underrepresented in the exhibit). 

A slave hauling luggage

The vigilant overseer

Other museum highlights include a vial of Christopher Columbus’s ashes and a great history on Andrea Doria, who was responsible for creating financially-savvy fleets of Genoa-based mercenaries and thus building great wealth for himself and the city (in turn, furnishing much of its great cultural legacy). Museo del Mare is definitely on our list of must-sees for Genoa visitors.

And speaking of visitors, on the First Night of Chanukah Alitalia brought to us, il cugino de Martello. We’ve had a great couple of days with him, the highlight being lighting all together our homemade menorah, which Trofie Wife fashioned (with design support from Martello) out of two small squares of cork board from the hobby shop and bullone (nuts) from the hardware shop (see pictures below). Via the Italian Jewish listserv that Trofie Wife subscribes to, she was able to locate some local tunes for candlelighting and other songs (note, however, that “Maoz tzur” sounds very familiar). For your listening pleasure:

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

No comments: