Italy: Stirrings in La Superbo

During its 13th century heyday as a Mediterranean trading power, Genoa came to be known as "La Superba" —which, since it can be taken to mean "the haughty," was not necessarily a compliment. Still, the appellation was particularly apt for Genoa's business men, a tightfisted, close-knit breed that ranked among the world's most con servative. Interested only in sure things, they earned a lasting distinction by re fusing to stake a local boy named Chris topher Columbus to a daring expedition.

Even today, the Palazzo San Giorgio, headquarters of Genoa's port...

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