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PostGenoese Colonies on the Black Sea (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 09/13/23 3:40 am)
Several times on WAIS I have mentioned the Genoese (and Venetian) colonies in the Eastern Mediterranean, Sea of Azov, and the Black Sea in the period from 1000 to 1500.
This week a Turkish delegation headed by the Turkish Vice Minister for Culture and Tourism Gokhan Yazgi will arrive in Genoa.
The purpose of the visit is the recovery and revitalization of the old Genoese fortifications in Turkey to turn them into a cultural patrimony for Unesco.
The Genoese colonies generally were not a military occupation of a large territory, but a concession for commercial activities. It was in a district of the town with a road reaching the sea (Ruga Genuensium) with arcades housing scagni (shops/offices) plus the Genoese town hall and a church. The fortunes of Genoa (and all of Liguria) started with the First Crusade, but the Genoese presence was also in Africa, Arabic Spain including Gibraltar, and France including Monaco.
In Turkey mainly in Constantinople (Istanbul), Chios and Izmir, Genoese communities remained even after the Ottoman Empire had consolidated its conquest. The Catholic Genoese still numbered some 15,000 in 1933, but following the 1955 Istanbul Troubles, many left their homes and at present only about one thousand still reside in Istanbul and Izmir.
Odessa in Ukraine was officially built in 1794 but there already was an old Genoese colony called Ginestra (Spanish or Scotch broom). The founder was the Russian admiral José de Ribas, born in Naples from a family originating in Spain. The song "O Sole Mio" by Di Capua was written in Odessa. Not only Ukraine but also Russia, Abkhazia, and Georgia should join such a cultural enterprise.
Oh, do not forget that Venetian colonies were also also present on the shores of the Black Sea and Sea of Azov.
JE comments: Interestingly, the Genoese and Venetian models of colonization were closer to present-day "neocolonialism" than the later colonies established by Spain, France and England. Namely, set up shop but don't occupy and subjugate the entire territory. Eugenio, would you agree with this assessment? What can you tell us about the governing structure of the Italian colonizers and the locals? Was it a relationship of equals or were the Italians in charge?
I bet very few of you knew that the iconic Neapolitan song "O sole mio" was inspired by a sunrise in...Odessa. Eugenio, you teach us something nearly every day: