On Monday, we announced that Genova in Italy will host the Grand Finale of The Ocean Race 2021-22.
The city is one of the most famous maritime and sailing hotspots in Europe, and a natural fit for the toughest test of a team in sport to come to a head.
But how much of a Genova genius are you? Below are 10 things you probably didn't know about Italy's sailing capital...
1. Genova is such a famous sailing city, it even has a sail named after it
You've probably heard of a 'genoa' – the jib sail that overlaps the mainsail – and if you're a sailor, you've very likely used one. And yes – the sail does have origins in this Italian yachting hotspot. In fact, the story goes that one man – Sven Salén, coincidentally, great uncle to The Ocean Race Managing Director Johan Salén – was racing in the Coppa di Terreno in 1926 when he ingeniously modified an existing sail to create an overlapping jib. He won the race – and the Genoa sail was born.
2. It boasts Italy's biggest port – and has done for centuries
Genova is the largest seaport in Italy – and one of the biggest in the Mediterranean. Since the 12th Century, the city has been a commercial hub for trade – and today the modernised harbour is a major commercial and industrial force, with a trade volume of 51.6 million tonnes at last records.
3. Genova is said to be the home of Christopher Columbus
It's fitting that our ocean adventurers will end the 2021-22 Race in the city, as scholars generally agree that Genova is the birthplace of one of the most famous explorers of all-time. Christopher Columbus, who now has an airport in the city named in his honour, is said to have grown up in Genova and was inspired to go in search of what he called the 'new world' – eventually reaching America.
4. It hosts one of the biggest boat shows in Europe
Salon Nautico Genova celebrated its 59th anniversary in 2019, and has long been a world-class showcase of the Italian maritime scene. Spanning over 200,000 square metres both on shore and water, the show attracts visitors and exhibitors from all over the world.
5. Genova is a pesto and pasta paradise!
Great pasta is easy to come by in Italy, but pesto is something altogether more special – and Genova has pesto-a-plenty. The green sauce, made from garlic, basil, parsley, parmesan, olive oil and pine nuts is a way of life in these parts. And they take it seriously, too –the city even hosts a Pesto World Championships to find the best pesto on the planet.
6. England owes arrears to Genova for the use of the flag
You might have spotted the familiar white and red cross, and many people think that Genova has borrowed the English flag – but it's actually the other way around. The city adopted the Flag of St George during the Crusades, and its army was so fearless that in the 13th century, England asked to adopt the same flag in order to deter enemies. A deal was struck where the English monarch would pay an annual fee to the city – however, the last payment was made almost 250 years ago. Imagine the interest on that one!
7. Genova is a UNESCO World Heritage City
With stunning Renaissance and Baroque architecture and incredible history, Genova has been made a UNESCO World Heritage City – and was crowned European Capital of Culture in 2004.
8. Jeans – yes, jeans – were invented in Genova
Pretty much everyone has a pair of denims in their wardrobe, but did you know that they were invented in Genova? The famous blue fabric was first used to create the ships sails sacks and later the trousers of the Genovese sailors that were travelling from port to port around the world. The name comes from the 'Gênes', which is 'Genova' in French.
9. They use house numbers twice in these parts
In Genova, houses and private residences are numbered in black, and commercial properties and businesses are numbered in red, both using the full set of numbers. So double-check when you're making that late night check-in to the hotel!
10. Genova is passionate about sustainability and ocean health
Having hosted the first in the new series of The Ocean Race Summits last week, Genova has been the meeting place for some of the most important leaders in sport, science, business, the arts and government to share ideas and solutions to the restoring ocean health.