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The home of Christopher Columbus, the city of Genoa has long had a proud maritime tradition that dates back to ancient times. The Etruscans founded the city in the 6th century BC, and it was later a major trading port with the Greeks. During the Punic Wars the Carthaginians destroyed the city in 209 BC. Rebuilt by the Romans, it remained a vital trading center for several centuries.
After the fall of the Roman Empire in the West the city was controlled by several different powers, first the Ostrogoth and then by the Lombards. During this time the town fell into great decline and was little more than a backwater port.
However, as with other Italian maritime centers the city rebounded and built a massive trade fleet, making the city one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean. The city was sacked by Moorish pirates in the 10th century, but once again rebounded. From this port an empire was built that controlled the seas and lands around the vital port city.
During the Crusades that city-state allied with the Byzantines, and became one of the large Maritime Republics. Wars with Venice, another Maritime Republic, and the introduction of the Black Death to Europe began a decline for the trading empire. By the 16th century the zenith had passed, and the Mediterranean was but a lake compared to the worldwide trade routes established by Spain and Portugal with the opening of the New World.
The city was nearly destroyed by the French in 1684, and conquered by Austria in 1746, only to lose the last of its territory by 19th century. The city was annexed by France in 1805 and then transferred to the House of Savoy following Napoleon’s downfall. While the city remained the center of an anti-Savoy movement, it recovered economically during this time. In 1861 along with the other Savoy lands the city became part of a unified Italy.Today, the city remains an important Italian port and popular tourist destination, especially for anyone interested in its maritime past!