Why Genoa? Because it IS “La Superba”, that’s why! Often underrated and overlooked, be prepared to be delighted and pleasantly surprised…
So, first I have a confession… Before I was contacted by and subsequently partnered with BeautifuLiguria, I knew precious little about Genoa except that Columbus was born there and that it was a maritime power that once rivaled Venice and Pisa. Now, I’m not proud of that fact, okay? And, once I knew I would be visiting, I began researching and I became more and more intrigued and excited about my first visit…
Coincidentally, I recently discovered that my maternal grandparents sailed for America from Genoa in 1910. So, my inaugural visit took on an even deeper meaning and became an important chapter in My Italian Journey and my roots in Italy. Now, I can honestly say that I am now a 100% enamored and enthusiastic fan of “La Superba”!
There are many, many reasons why you should add Genoa to your bucket list of cities to visit in Italy…but I’m going to start with just 10…
#1 Porto Antico: First and foremost you have to understand the importance of Genoa being a natural port and that, as a powerful Maritime Republic, it was one of the dominant powers of the Mediterranean for centuries. This has defined Genoa’s history and character. It is also the port from which millions of Italians immigrated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In 1992 the Porto Antico di Genova was refurbished in honor of the 500 year anniversary of Columbus sailing to the new world and reinvented into a major tourist attraction with restaurants, Europe’s largest aquarium, and the extraordinary Galata Museo del Mare where you can learn about Genoa’s history, see the ashes of Columbus…
…and learn about the story of the Italian immigrants through impressive exhibits and interactive multi-media displays. Definitely fascinating and worthwhile!
#2 Caruggi and Columbus: Enter the medieval world of Genoa’s historic center with its labyrinth of caruggi, Genoa’s labyrinth of narrow alleyways lined with caffès, trattorias, enotecas, markets, focaccerias and shops of every sort … Friendly on foot, explore, meander, wander, get a little lost. Chat with local merchants, enjoy a gelato or caffè and do a little shopping…
Yes, Columbus slept here! What is claims to be the home of Columbus is nearby as is the church where he was baptized. At the least, you can be sure he walked these passageways…
#3 Palazzi Along Le Strade Nuove: Back in the 16th and into the 18th century, the rich and prominent Genoese families created a luxurious neighborhood along Via Garibaldi of lavish palazzi for the mere purpose of attracting and hosting the most important and distinguished visitors, e.g., royalty, nobility, etc.
The palazzi were “listed” on a large roster or registry and hence the name “Palazzi dei Rolli”. It was a competition of sorts to see who could attract the most prestigious guests and therefore add to the family’s prestige.
Today, with its UNESCO designation, the “residents” are primarily financial and government institutions. Several are open to the public on specific days. Worth a visit these painted palaces will leave you speechless with their opulence and artistic treasures.
#4 Pesto Paradise: This IS the home of pesto! Pesto is king, literally, the King of Pesto is here in Genoa and it’s a regional treasure and source of intense pride.
Oh, I know, you think you know how to make pesto and what it tastes like. Well, let me just say this…having pesto in Genoa is a revelation! Always made with local basil and served fresh on trofie or, perhaps, mantilla pasta, you will be transported to pesto heaven!I would be remiss to not mention so many other drool-worthy local specialties such as the unique chinotto, focaccia served in more ways than you can count, the chick pea flour and olive oil snack called farinata, an incredible seafood selection (of course!) … and so much more!
#5 Lions of San Lorenzo: San Lorenzo Cathedral, dedicated to St. Lawrence, was originally built to house the ashes of St. John the Baptist, the city’s patron saint. Its classic and characteristic black and white striped façade and, long and illustrious history in and of itself make it worthy of a visit.
However, before you even start to ascend the stairs to its entrance, you are greeted by the regal and compelling 19th century lions that flank the stairs. Surely their noble countenance and soulful gaze will captivate you, too…
#6 Mercato Orientale: Located on the east side of the city, hence the name Mercato Orientale, this market is virtually in the heart of Genoa. I love and have visited many local markets and this one is surely one of the most extraordinary. With its astounding array of stalls and dazzling selections of literally anything you could possibly need, want or imagine, it’s the perfect way to really immerse in the local lifestyle even if it’s just to look!
#7 Chic & Cosmopolitan: Genoa is chic, cosmopolitan, and sophisticated. It’s a great walking city, easily navigated and has absolutely stunning architecture. Turn a corner and there’s another lovely piazza or spectacular architectural masterpiece.
A blend of old and new, there is a wide variety of shops and boutiques, places to grab some street food, enjoy local cuisine or just sit and enjoy a caffè or glass of local wine.
With its friendly locals, lovely hotels and accommodations, public transportation, and many services/information for visitors, it is accessible, safe, and welcoming.
#8 Charming Neighbors: Hop on a bus or take a taxi and in minutes you can enjoy some street food or a gelato in colorful Boccadasse or a leisurely stroll in Nervi. And then there’s…
#9 Revel on the Riviera: Liguria’s rocky coastline is lined with seaside charmers, not to mention the iconic Italian Riviera – east and west – including Cinque Terre, Levanto, Santa Margherita Ligure, Portofino, Portovenere, Chiavari, and Camogli.
Easily reached by train, enjoy the views as you head toward one (or more!) of these unique but all delightfully picturesque towns.
(Stay tuned, I’ll be sharing a lot more about many of these destinations soon!)
#10 More than Meets the Eye: Genoa is the capital of Liguria, one of the smallest regions of Italy, but the city and region are absolutely bursting with delights and surprises for the visitor. The more I saw the more I wanted to see!
And, it is NOT touristy or overcrowded. Genoa and her nearby neighbors still offer a pleasingly authentic and uncrowded “off the beaten track” experience…
♦ Are you ready to join us and experience the magic of Genoa and the Italian Riviera? ♦
Sip wine in Portofino? Make pesto the Genovese way? Stroll through historic medieval towns? Sample focaccia and chinotto? This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg!
All this and SO much more!
Join me and my team of local experts for a unique and authentic immersion into this fabulous region of Italy!
Limited to only 10 guests!
October 6 – 15, 2017
(Dates don’t work? Let’s Design YOUR Custom Dream Trip to the Italian Riviera!)
Check out the blog posts I shared during my September 2016 visit: