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- Cities XL PlatinumArenzano
Arenzano is an Italian city located on an island in the Tyrhennian Sea, about 50 kilometres apart from Livorno, Italy.
During the late Roman Empire, Arentianis served as an outpost for the Classis (the Roman navy), and as a stopover for trade ships, which could land within the little bay on the northern shore (where the former sickbay is located). A village grew around the outpost and farmers suplied the soldiers with food and other goods. When the Roman Empire perished, the islanders found themselves in the middle of nowhere, and many left the island to search for a better life on the mainland.
In the 7th century, Benedictine monks found an abbey on the Island, and once again, a village started to grow nearby, as the farmers and craftsmen could now earn their livelihood by selling goods and services to the monks.
In the 11th century, the Republic of Pisa occupied the island to use it as a strategic outpost against the Saracens. The Castello was built on a hill at the northern coast. The village nearby grew, and a certain wealth was acquired by exporting goods like wheat to the the mainland.
When Pisa lost its power to the rising Genoese Republic in the early 14th century, the island also fell under Genoese rule. A governor was installed, and plans were made to build walls around the town as well as to build another castle on a hill southern to the town. But the intense rivalry with the Venetian Republic took all the financial support.
After the Genoese army was decisively defeated in the Battle of Chioggia, the island once again changed its owner. But Venice never sent soldiers to consolidate its power. Hence the city council tried to establish close bonds with the rising regional power of Florence; and they were successful, the town even served as a summer residence for the Florentinian elites.
With modern ships, fishers could exploit fishing grounds that were located far away from the island. Part of the catch was dried and sold as stoccafisso on the mainlaind (especially ling was used for this method). Together with the exports of corn, the town's exchequer was well-filled, and within the next centuries, the city could afford the construction of major landmarks, for instance the Chiesa di San Pietro (Church of Saint Peter) in 1650 AD, or the University of Arenzano.
The city managed to stay out of any major conflict that took place on the mainland within the next century, mostly due to clever marriage politics. After the Congress of Vienna, the town supported the Italian urge for unification, and was financially rewarded by King Victor Emmanuel II after his crowning in 1861. The money was used to construct high schools, patriotic statues and structures, as well as to expand the university.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the city had become a holiday spot for the intellectuals and the rich elites from the mainland. After WWI, the tourism sector was expanded with the construction by several hotels throughout the city, topped off with the completion of the Grand Hotel Arenzano on the remnants of the unfinished Genoese castle in 1929.
Arenzano did not experience any major destruction within WWII, only in early 1945, an air raid by the RAF hit parts of the new town, resulting in 90 dead citizens.
After the war, the city quickly recovered, due to the trading ships being able to safely ship within the Tyrhennian Sea again. The harbour was expanded, and the town's sea carrier companies became regional players. Unfortunately, the modern fishing trawlers lead to an overfishing, and overthrew the city into a severe crisis. The city's mayors of that time tried to counteract by seeking for investments into tourism and high-tech industry: the landmarks were renovated and a collaboration between university's biological faculty and an Italian pharmaceutical company was set up, resulting in the construction of a plant 5 years later.
In the 1990s, the European Union developed and financially supported a program to help the suffering Italian fishing industry, and due to better regulations, Arenzano's fishing industry has been growing since.
Most recently, the city became known for being the first major Italian town where the majority of city council members are from the Green Party.
*****In 1923, a rich Milanese businessman visited the island for the first time, and albeit he was impressed by the town's landmarks, he missed a spot to have a better sight onto them. Hence he bought the area of the unfinished Genoese castle and had the Grand Hotel built on. Today, next to being the city's most famous landmark, it serves as a conference center for the financial elites and as a refugium for Italian actresses.
Grand Hotel Kempinski in Arenzano
The old town remains the number one spot to get to know the city's rich history and the local culture. Top spots to visit are the castle on the hill, the Saint Peter's Church, the Fontana del Nettuno (Neptune's Fountain), the former sickbay, the city hall, as well as the former governor's residence, which nowadays serves as a Museum of Arts.
The Old Town
The CastleThe new town was mostly built between the 17th and 20th century, albeit it underwent its striking changes within the late 19th century. It is famous for the University of Arenzano as well as the long esplanades alongside the island's eastern coastline. Some other spots to visit are the Piazza di Cavour (Cavour's Square), the Cimitero sull'Isola (Graveyard Island), and the Castello Piccolo.
The Chiesa di San Pietro (Saint Peter's Church)
The Fontana del Nettuno (Neptune's Fountain)
The former sickbay/ lepra station
The City Hall
The Governor's Residence
The New Town
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An Italian Island Jewel