Friday, May 04, 2007

Albenga, City of Towers

For half-a-dozen miles or so, between Albenga and Ceriale on the Italian Riviera, the severe mountain slopes move a mile or so back from the coast line to produce an area that is flat enough to be used for farming. The result is a welter of highly mechanized hothouses in which exotic flowers are grown for distribution all over the world. In the midst of the Orchid factories was the campsite - probably the tightest squeeze of all the sites that we visited.
A mile offshore is Gallinara Island, today a privately owned nature reserve, which contains relics of monasteries and fortification from the third century.
Albenga has been around since Celtic times although its present layout is pretty much as established by the Romans. It is a walled city with vehicular access limited to restricted to residents, employees of businesses and delivery vehicles. Immediately outside the wall, the usual clutter of street signs and traffic exist, inside the wall, it is a different world.
The city itself is renowned for the preservation of numerous medieval tower houses as well as several much older religious buildings. Typical of walled cities, it contains narrow streets, numerous squares and a bewildering array of churches for a city of just 22,000 population. Some of the older buildings in town date back to the 5th century including the Christian Baptistery and lower part of the the church facade. The Baptistery currently sits in a 10' deep hole - the extent of the build up of deposits washed down by the Centa river which have buried the southern section of Roman Albingaunum and its port over the intervening centuries.
The following bunch of snaps, taken on a Sunday during the two hour lunch break, give some idea of the ambiance of the place. Notice the resplendent exhibition of laundry adorning many of the buildings.

No comments: