Rarely if ever have I seen this gorgeous city – Genoa in English, Genova in Italian – included on tourist itineraries to Italy, unless the itinerary also involved a cruise ship. Located on the Mediterranean sea, and near the Alps and the French border, Genoa exceeds expectations every time yet remains an off the beaten track destination. Once an important maritime port, the city has a rich history, a gorgeous Old Quarter of town, and fantastic food.
Amble along the 2.5 km long seaside promenade, Corso Italia. Find the old harbor and visit the acquarium; or for ship lovers, visit the Museum of the Sea. Wander through the tropical plants and small animals inside the “Bolla” (see photo, below), which was built for the 2001 G8 Summit. Eat fish.
Visit the old town: walk down Via Garibaldi and admire the many Rolli palaces, a UNESCO World Heritage site (for more, click here). Sit in the main square, Piazza de Ferrari, and marvel at the architecture around you: the Opera house, the Doge’s Palace, and the lively fountain. Visit the house where Christopher Columbus lived as a child.
Don’t miss the 1500 year old funky striped Cattedrale di San Lorenzo. Eat focaccia. Take the public elevator up to Piazza Castello and enjoy the views. Eat pesto with trofie or trenette.
The parco dell’Acquasola, in the centre of the city, is a great spot for the kids to run around. Or take the short train ride to Nervi, to explore the gigantic Parchi di Nervi, a green space and amalgamation of 3 villas plus their gardens. If you go on a Sunday, you’ll join the throngs of local Genovesi.
Visit the National Gallery, Palazzo Spinola. Or admire the Genoese and Flemish art at the Palazzo Bianco museum, and ride the acensore panoramico up to the roof to take in the views.
You can drive to Genoa but as in any Italian city, driving and parking is not fun and you certainly don’t need a car to get around. It’s very easy to take the train to Genoa, and it’s part of the fast train network. You can also visit nearby towns by boat, or just do an excursion.
Photos by Sanjay Jhawar
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