01/05/2012 12:29 pm ET Updated Jan 05, 2012

Wandering The Timeless Streets Of Genoa (PHOTOS)

We are never more aware of time than at the advent of a new year and never more indifferent to it than when in Italy, a country graced with cities like Genoa that saw modernity and politely demurred.

Over the past several decades, Genoa has been content to play fourth fiddle to Rome, Florence and Venice, but as those cities have filled -- to the point of sinking in one case -- with eager tourists, the draw of this quintessentially Italian town has become its apparent lack of drawing power. As the photos below show, the beauty of Genoa is evident on first blush. Still, the city's soul is hidden in the winding alleys of its "vicoli," the old quarter.

In Genoa's heart, palaces hide behind graffitied walls and the sun hangs from balconies like laundry. This is the Italy that defies progress, that shrugs off the new year, and reminds travelers that amenities must occasionally take a back seat to aesthetics.

There are worse things than being doomed to repeat the past.