This is the historic capital city of Liguria
This one-time naval power during the Middle Ages has many churches, museums and castles for the visitors to see, and it has the largest historic town centre in Europe
The regional capital city of Liguria is a very imposing and dynamic city. It has already mesmerized many holiday makers with its special flair. The proud (superb) city is a popular destination for shopping enthusiasts, but even those who love culture will be kept busy by the most diverse museums, theatres and Aperitivos. From Piazza de Ferrari it is very easy to get to the Via XX Settembre shopping street.
Whoever would rather go to the aquarium can likewise get from there to the second largest sea aquarium in Europe, the “Acquario di Genova”. It is all about fun and excitement once you get there. The Rochen-Petting Zoo in particular impresses many visitors. Just a few meters away from there is the “Cittá dei Bambini”, the “Children’s City”. From there both small and big children can get to know the world of technology and water in a playful way. This is just a little foretaste of the wonderful leisure activities which Genoa offers.
Tip: It is absolutely worthwhile for all museum fans to buy “Carta dei Musei”. This museum card is valid for 48 hours. It costs 16 - 20 Euros and is valid for several museums (including bus travel) and you get discounted entrance fees or even free entrance. You can purchase this card in various book stores, in the Palazzo Ducale as well as in the Aquarium.
Genoa’s city centre is the most preserved city centre in the whole of Europe. The Northern part of the city centre is even today still a very impressive remnant from the rich civilization of the Renaissance and Baroque eras. From here one can take a wonderful walk through the Strada Nuova to the Palazzi Rosso, Bianco and Tursi.
The medieval city centre around the San Lorenzo Cathedral reflects the colorful life of the eastern part of the port. The old city centre around the Piazza De Ferrari was selected in 2006 together with its many boulevards as a World Heritage Site, and is one of the best preserved in Europe. The Via Garibaldi (formerly Strada Nuova) is one of the boulevards in that part of town. Take time to admire the beautiful old mural paintings on house facades as well as the luxurious shops and the numerous galleries. The two palaces, namely Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Rosso, house one of the most renowned art galleries in Europe. Palazzo Reale in Via Balbi with its picture gallery and hall of mirrors is also worth seeing. From its roof terrace one can have a magnificent view of the city. Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) is the former seat of government for the City of Genoa. Today one can find several international exhibitions there too, for instance by the Dutch artist, Rubens.
What is so special about Genoa? The Staglieno Cemetry (Piazzale Rebasco, Genova Staglieno) is a very special resting place. Namely the remains of well-known personalities like Guiseppe Mazzini lie here. Due to the numerous memorial monuments and fascinating sculptures, the cemetery can almost be called an open-air museum. Whoever still feels like continuing on the trails of great names, can go and have a look at the birthplaces of celebrities like Christoph Columbus and Nicoló Paganini. The Casa di Colombo was unfortunately partly destroyed in1684. It is located at the city gate (Porto Soprana) on Piazza Dante. The Casa Paganini on the other hand, which is also referred to as the “Devil’s Violinist”, is located on Piazza Santa Maria in Passione. Another interessting place to visit is definitely the medieval residence of the famous and rich Doria family. This estate located on Piazza San Matteo has not changed again since the minor renovations done on it in 1278.
The fact that the commercial city of Genoa has always been a meeting point of many cultures is also manifested through its Arabic influence. The colorful human traffic under the arcades of the Via di Sottoripa Port Street resembles an Arabian Bazaar.
Get away from the hustle and bustle Many of the surrounding ancient villages can be reached fron Genoa using the old railway. There are lovely walkways leading from those villages in particular to the hinterland. That’s just perfect for a day’s excursion! The charming fishing village called Boccadasse is especially worth visiting. It was already very popular with writers and poets even in those olden days.
If you plan on spending your Easter holidays in Genua, you should not by any chance miss the beautiful “Settimana Santa” on Holy Thursday. On that day, all churches are decorated with flowers. On the evening of Holy Thursday, the historical processions by the brotherhoods then take place.
One of the three cable railways (called Funicolare in Italian) will then take you from the Zecca station (found near the main railway station – Genova Principe) over the rooftops of Genoa to the suburb of Righi. The ride takes about 10 minutes. You will enjoy the fascinating view over Liguria’s capital city and the port.
Whoever would like to spend a few peaceful hours in green surroundings should not miss the Parco Urbano della Mura. This green oasis in Genoa can also be accessed using the cable railway. The recreational area is surrounded by the old fortress wall “Nuova Mura”. Take a walk through the park, visit the numerous forts originating from the last century or simply go and have a relaxed picnic in the green park.
Enjoy life in Genua Those who love going out in the evening to have a nice meal will find Genoa just the right place for them. The wide selection of pubs, bars, trendy bars, restaurants and cafés will leave many gourmet hearts beating faster.
The historical nature of the buildings gives every restaurant particular charm. To catch up on the Ligurian flair, people meet in the evenings to have an Apperitivo, in keeping with the Genoan tradition.
Be it in the open or in the comfortable ambience indoors, the “Gotto” in particular is worth tasting. This very recommendable white wine goes perfectly with Focaccia. „Baxeichito“ which originates from Genoa is also very exquisite. This is a kind of Mojito, but is produced with basil instead of mint.
When you are on the search for culinary delicacies, you should absolutely visit the “Mercato Orientale” (junction of Via Galata and Via XX Settembre). The lively colored market hall is located in an old cloister. The diverse nature of items on offer ranges from fresh herbs, delicious fruits and vegetables, cheese, fish and meat to homemade pasta. The “Mercato Orientale” is open from Monday to Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. There are several shops with tradition in Genoa’s city centre.
Many of those shops are 50 to 200 years old. Among them are, for instance, small shops which make chocolate according to the old family tradition. You can literally enjoy the Dolce Vita there: Zuccotti Fabbrica Cioccolato (via di Santa Zia 36).
Whoever would rather have an ice-cream, should try out the home-made and creatively prepared types in the “Fruit & Ice Cream Factory” Gelateria (Via San Lorenzo 55r). Apart from ice-cream, you will also find fresh fruit and Crepes there. You can also enjoy delicious ice-cream creations in the “Profumo di Rosa” Gelateria (Via Cairoli 13 a/r) near Palazzo Rosso.
You can also get savory and sweet Crepes in the “J´aime les Crepes” Creperia (Stradone Sant`Agostino 54r). The variety of restaurants in Liguria’s capital city is large and quite certainly you can find something for every taste.
You can try out the seafood and fish dishes in the “Voltalacarta” Restaurant for instance (via Assarotti 60/r). Whoever prefers more rustic dishes will be well taken care of in the “Le Mura di Malapaga” Restaurant (Via del Molo 57) near the Aquarium.
You will be served meat dishes there mainly. You will find local dishes and specialties in the “Il Marin” Restaurant (Edificio Millo, Porto Antico). Apart from the fine food you can also enjoy the view over the Port of Genoa there. Ligurian delicacies can also be found in the “Soul Kitchen” Restaurant (Piazza dell'Agnello 41 r) in the heart of Genoa’s old city centre. This restaurant offers a selection of different dishes at midday, and included in the menu-price are a glass of water or wine. The pasta and bread are home-made.
During your stay in Italy, you should not of course miss paying a visit to the Pizzeria. The pizzas and Farinata in the “Al Cazone d`Oro” restaurant (Via Aleardo Aleardi 10R) come direct from the woodstove. You can spend a beautiful evening in a cozy and stylish atmosphere in “Cibaria” wine bar (Via del Molo 17). Apart from good wine, they also offer cheese platters and various other delicacies from Italy.
If you think that it is impossible to see whales and dolphins in the Mediterranean Sea, surprise yourself with a trip. The first whale sanctuary is located directly in front of the Ligurian coast. A whale watching tour is a special excursion on a boat, especially for children! From April until November the ships daily depart from the ports of Genoa, Imperia, Sanremo, Varazze, Savona, Loano, Laigueglia, Andora and Bordighera. A five hour discovery tour you won’t easily forget!
Genoa was built in the ancient times by greek settlers. It has in addition a natural port. The Romans were first reported in Genoa in 216 BC. After the destruction by the Carthaginians, Genoa was immediately rebuilt in 209 BC. Genoa became the main base of the Romans for their fight against the Ligurians. The Via Aurelia connected Rome to Genoa. Genoa developed quickly in the early Middle Ages to a big and important town, when it fought successfully against the Saracens and also showed its skills at sea against the attackers. At the beginning of the 11th century Genoa allied with Pisa in order to fight against the Saracens.
They then rose to the position of a medieval colonial power, when Genoa opened a base at the African Atlantic coast in 1162. In 1277 they opened a sea route connecting Spain with Flanders and England.
The Genoese traded mainly in olive oil, wine, tuna fish, leather and a lot more, and they conquered Spanish islands like Gran Canaria and Tenerife. Even Cadiz, Lisbon and Malaga were their dominions. Genoa gradually built a sea fleet of its own by doing barter trade and transfer deals with Iberian monarchies. With its sea power they conquered the ports along the Straight of Gibraltar.
As a result of Genoa’s fast growing power, conflicts arose between her and Pisa, which culminated in long sea wars. Pisa was clearly inferior and Genoa took the entire sea freight between Western Europe and the Middle East. The sea ports occupied by the Saracens on the Spanish coast, the Aegean Island of Chios and many more cities along the Black Sea became Genoa’s colonies.
This again triggered rivalries with Pisa and Venice and provoked more wars. The war of 1284 between Pisa and Genoa at Meloria marked a disastrous end for Pisa.
Genoa also had some internal conflicts within its borders. There were several uprisings and civil wars against the rulers of Genoa. Various noble families were also fighting for power in Genoa. Therefore, there was frequent change of leadership in Genoa. At the end of the 15th century the Genoan sailor, Christopher Columbus, then discovered America.
As compensation for the lost sea trade with the Middle East, Genoa took on the role of banker for the Spanish Crown and it went on to equip the Spanish army and fleet. Towards the end of the 17th century the city was bombarded by the French and handed over to the Austrians in 1746. Due to the French Revolution and Napoleon’s rule, the Republic of Genoa collapsed.
It was decided through the Vienna treaty, that Genoa should join the Sardinian kingdom after the end of the French rule. This was received with a lot of dissatisfaction, and there were frequent uprisings. The idea of a Genoan republic always remained alive. A serious riot took place during which the republicans took over power to rule the city. However this lasted only a short while.
Genoa was able to rebuild its role as an important sea port and steel supplier in the late 19th and early 20th century; in addition the city became an important centre for ship building.
In the 2nd world war the town came under German occupation after Italy had joined the Western Allies in 1944, and it was declared a fortress. The city was handed over to the Partisans in 1945 without a fight, after a German general refused to blow up the port and the historic part of town.
Genoa continued to play an important role even after the war. Together with Milan and Turin, the city formed the so-called “industrial triangle” in northern Italy.
As a result of deindustrialisation and other structural changes, the city faced lots of problems in the 1980s. The city became filthy, jobs were lost, population figures dropped and the crime rate skyrocketed. It was only in the middle of 2000s that Genoa started to recover slowly; a key factor in that regard was the nomination of the historic part of Genoa as one of the world heritage sites.
Genova belongs to the municipality of Vobbia and is one of the villages in the Genoa Province which lies in the Liguria region. There are several other villages near Genova, for example: Marassi (4 km), Vobbia (39.5 km) and Casteletto (3 km). When travelling along the Genova – Ventimiglia highway, take the exit to Genova.