I suppose it’s like living in New York for ten years and suddenly learning the history of the Empire State Building. How many times have Speedy and I walked through or past this gate? More than we can count.
It is the so-called Porto delle Saline, and is the only one of five original gates into the once-walled Rapallo that is still in existence. Obviously it didn’t look much like this in the mid-1200′s when written reference to it was first made. It’s been tarted up quite a bit, as can be seen in the Baroque detail above the ornate arch. That is a reproduction of the painting of Our Lady of Montallegro, the important pilgrim church at the top of one of the hills behind Rapallo (you can read the fascinating history of the church and its ikon here).
Back when Rapallo was walled and still had five gates, the Doria family from Genova held a monopoly on salt production in the area. The great pans in which they evaporated salt from the sea were just outside this gate – hence the name, which means Salt Port.
I finally learned this little bit of Rapallo’s history today during a delightful passagiata with visiting family. Although I felt foolish for not knowing the story before, I’m very glad to know it now. It was a splendid day in every way, and even had an appropriate moment of doggy cuteness. I was too slow to capture this little puppy eating the ice cream from his cup, but quick enough to catch him wondering if there was any way to get some more.