When you casually mention “Genoa” in conversation, the most likely phrases you will hear are: “a big harbour” “the aquarium” or “my cruise started there”. The harbour is indeed interesting, and the aquarium is the largest in Europe. But what about the city itself? Most people never visit it, they usually go straight from the bus to the boat. What a shame! Genoa is a marvellous city, one really worth visiting.
If you are interested in history and culture, you can start the tour of the city on the Via Garibaldi with its ancient Palazzi dei Rolli, a group of palaces that are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Many are open to the public, with their marble staircases, painted ceilings and frescos including Palazzo Rossi, Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Tursi. Other palaces, such as Palazzo Pallavicino, even have terraced gardens full of orange and citrus trees. The wealthy families who built these houses spared no expense to decorate and furnish them. The Galleria Nazionale di Palazzo Spinola, a few metres away from the via Garibaldi is also a must see, with its sumptuous ceilings and paintings by masters such as Van Dyck and Rubens.
Most of the palaces, museums and churches are within walking distance of the Via Garibaldi. The cathedral, Domo San Lorenzo, is a major cultural attraction. Recognisable from its white and grey marble strips, the cathedral is home to an incredible “Tesoro” now transformed into a museum.
Another of Genoa’s important sights is the Piazza de Ferrari, with its majestic fountain. The square, at the intersection between the historical and modern parts of the city opens onto the Palazzo Ducale, which hosts interesting temporary exhibitions as well as the opera house, Teatro Carlo Felice. The iglesia del Gesu nearby is worth a visit as well.
Genoa is of course also a shopping destination. The Via XX Settembre with its lovely galleries is home to major fashion stores such as Rinascente and Coin. Depending on the season, there are flea markets or Christmas markets around the town.
Last but not least, this city, the capital of Liguria, is famous for its traditional pesto genovese. This is a delicate homemade basil sauce, famous worldwide. You will never taste such a delicious pesto anywhere outside Genoa.
How to get there?
By car, from Geneva approx. 4 hours drive
By flying to Nice (Easyjet or Swiss), then by train (Nice – Ventimiglia and Ventimiglia-Genoa)
Where to stay?
The Bristol Palace Hotel is very conveniently located, next to the Piazza di Ferrari.
Where to eat?
Locanda Spinola , Vico della Scienza (in front of Galleria Nazionale di Palazzo Spinola)
For an enjoyable dinner with a lovely setting : Zeffirino, Via XX Settembre, 20.