Would you like to drop anchor against a historical backdrop and take a walk alongside the antique palazzi? The proud metropolis of Genoa in the north of Italy makes it possible and offers so much more in terms of entertainment, cuisine and culture.
One of the oldest and most important cities in northern Italy, Genoa is a renowned center of the arts, gastronomy, architecture and history, as well as one of the oldest ports in this part of the world. The locals sometimes refer to it as “La Superba” (the Superb One), a reference to its glorious past, that tourists can witness to this day.
A true economic power and part of the Italian economic triangle, Genoa has lots of things worth seeing and the general consensus among the crowds is that the more you stay here, the more you get to love the city itself.
Travel & Arrival
True to its industrial status, Genoa has an extremely well developed infrastructure when it comes to transportation. Also, the fact that it’s close to Italy’s northern border makes it easier for tourists driving from the mainland to reach it. There’s of course a local international airport, the Aeroporto di Genova (Cristoforo Columbo) which links with other major towns in Italy, but also other European capitals such as Paris, London or Berlin. To get to town, the sailor will have to either rent a car or get on local bus Volabus which connects to the city center.
As part of the national railway system, Genoa is connected by train to Milan, Turin, Rome and other cities on the Tuscan coast such as Pisa, Livorno and Florence, but there are also international trips being made from Nice (France). might prefer this alternative to driving, since it avoids traffic and gets you out of the hassle of finding a parking space.
But if you prefer to arrive here in your own car, then you should take the A7-E62 road if coming from Milan, further north inland or the A6-E717 when coming from Turin to the northwest. From the south, the Tuscany coast, just get in on the A12 highway and it will take you straight into town, while also affording your group some wonderful views of this part of the Italian Riviera.
There are numerous ferry services operating in the Genoa harbor, so check for a boat that suits your location. There are lots of boats crossing the Mediterranean from as far as Spain on a weekly basis, from locations such as Barcelona, Valleta in Malta, Bastia in Corsica, as well as other Italian ports: Olbia, Palermo. A journey from Spain usually takes about 18 hours but for those adventurers that want to take the scenic route, there’s also the possibility of traveling to Tangiers from here, on a trip that takes some 46 hours.
Avant & Apres Sail
To entice you to visit the old part of Genoa, we’ll just mention the fact that it’s listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. To whet your appetite even more, we’ll tell you that the Aquarium here is the largest in Europe and there’s also an extensive Sea Museum and a Naval Museum. That should appeal to all the enthusiasts out there.
Apart from all the museums scattered around the city center, which is the biggest historical quarter in Europe by the way, there are numerous old buildings with fine architecture that dominate the narrow streets.
There are churches like the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, palaces like the Palazzo Reale or the Palazzi dei Rolli or random landmarks like the house where Columbus was born, the old harbor (Porto Antico) and the Via Garibaldi which is lined on both sides with baroque buildings that seem to be so appealing to visiting groups.
To bring a little piece of Genoa home with you, make sure you drop by the Fiumara shopping center near Sanpierdarena train station for a little gift shopping. Other places where you can purchase some souvenirs are the shops along the Via XX Settembre or Piazza Ferrari.
Though made out of simple ingredients, Ligurian cuisine is often very elaborate but the outcome is very savory and healthy, just like all Mediterranean dishes usually are. The locals like to use lots of seafood, since Genoa is situated in a mountainous region, thus unsuitable for farming. You’ll find mushrooms, pine nuts, walnuts and aromatic herbs added to most dishes to compliment the usual olive oil and garlic combinations. Among the local delicacies, the gourmand might be tempted to sample focacce and torte salate (a vegetable and cheese pie), pesto (sauce made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese), the cappon magro (an elaborate fish dish), frito misto (deep-fried seafood) and the burida which is a fish stew.
All these can be sampled at any f the restaurants, taverns, bars and trattorie (an informal restaurant which specializes in Italian dishes) around the city. tourists who don’t like Italian, can go to places that also serve international dishes.
When night falls and you’re out on the town with your buddies, make sure you stay away from side streets in the harbor area, where most of the bars and clubs are located. Stick to the main streets around the Piazza Fontane Marose and Piazza delle Erbe to avoid trouble. For a more posh alternative, you can always choose to Teatro Carlo Felice or Teatro della Corte where you can catch a opera, a musical concert or a dance event.
Events & Actions
From fishing for catfish to lounging on a terrace by the seafront, from a lovely concert at the opera to shopping downtown, Genoa has plenty to do and see and it’s quite possible that you won’t get everything into just one holiday. But don’t worry, you can also come here for another trip, the locals are known for their hospitality.
Here is a list of annual events that the locals tempt tourists with but that also provide them with a means to celebrate their heritage, traditions, history and culture: the Mostra Mercato del Disco which is a music fair held at the Fiera di Genova at different dates every year, the Circumnavigando Festival (December) which is a 4-day celebration of circus and street theater that takes over the center of town, the Goa Boa Festival, a music festival which brings top recording artists to Genoa every July and the Millevele (A Thousand Sails) which is a regatta of the local yacht club that goes on in the Porto Antico Bay and brings thousands of enthusiasts from across the Tyrrhenian Sea.