Cogoleto and Christopher Columbus

16016 Cogoleto, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy

Simona Bertolaso



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Located on the Riviera di Ponente and within Beigua Park, Cogoleto is the last town in the province of Genoa and its territory is bounded by the municipalities of Varazze (province of Savona) and Arenzano. Although it is mainly a seaside destination, and therefore "taken by storm" during the summer months, it actually holds a valuable historical and cultural heritage that deserves to be discovered.
Since Roman times, the history of Cogoleto has been linked to the presence of numerous kilns scattered throughout its territory for the manufacture of lime. The vast production over the centuries has allowed the construction of numerous buildings throughout Liguria, such as the defensive walls of Genoa and the Ducal Palace itself.

Beginning in the Middle Ages, and practically up to the present day, Cogoleto is "influenced" by Genoa and the events that affect it, including whether or not it belongs to the same province. In fact, from 1859 to 1927 it was incorporated into the Genoese territory, from ’27 to ’33 it passed to the province of Savona and then returned definitively "Genoese" in 1933 following the Royal Decree of Victor Emmanuel III° of Savoy.

As for the place name, the origin is not very clear. Among the many theories that have been formulated in the past, two are the most likely:

from Latin Coquere Lithos, a name derived from the working and firing of limestone in local kilns;
from Cogolo, meaning pebble, to identify the characteristic past (and present) conformation of its beaches.

Among other toponyms that have been assigned, one deserves special attention: Cugureo, which appeared in several manuscripts from the 15th and 16th centuries in which Christopher Columbus was mentioned.

We then come to the navigator who discovered America, whose life, however, has always been shrouded in mystery. Today it is commonly believed that he was born in Genoa, so much so that near Porta Soprana one can visit his (alleged) home. However, in Via Rati in Cogoleto one can admire the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. Who is right then?

Most likely, it is an unfortunate case of homonymy between the Genoese Columbus, son of Domenico and Susanna Fontanarossa and born in 1451, and the Cogoleto Columbus, son of Domenico and Maria Giusti and likely born in 1436. This comes out of several documents in the Archivo General de Indias in Seville, and in one of them (mysteriously disappeared after 2013), with regard to Columbus’ place of birth it could be read

"Cugureo lugar cerca de Genova (patria de Colon)."

Other sources, this time dating back to the State Archives of Savona and Genoa, indicate that the Genoese Columbus was primarily a woolsman, while on the other hand the Columbus family from Cogoleto had been sailing throughout the Mediterranean for generations.

If this topic has intrigued you, then I recommend the website, where you will find a great deal of other information and verified sources from Spanish and Italian archives.

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