No-one does towns and cities like the Italians. It must be an instinct embedded in them over the centuries: fine palaces, churches, habitations, all designed with perfect proportions – which is in my view the main quality defining great architecture – but, more than this, standing cheek by jowl, with different periods and styles mixed together, but always in perfect relationship with one another. I hadn’t been to Genoa before; it never used to be on the normal tourist route, and was generally regarded as rather grubby and run down. Apparently all this changed with the quincentenary of the ‘discovery’ of America – Columbus came from Genoa – after which the city was smarted up for the Yanks. For an architecture buff like me, it was heaven. Of course the food, wine, sun and friendliness of the natives also helped. We shall come back.
I’m not sure about my lecture, on ‘Brexit and the British Empire’. It was in a forbidding venue – a huge highly decorated room in the palazzo ducale; and with not-quite-simultaneous translation (into Italian), which meant that people didn’t laugh at my jokes until they’d gone by. I’ll post a version of the text here later.