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10 reasons to visit Genoa
Genoa, Italian Genova and even called “La Superba” (meaning “The Proud”), is Italy's largest sea port. Here the history feels alive in the architectural heritage that speaks of its former glory: the Most Serene Republic of Genoa ruled over the Mediterranean waves during the 12th to the 13th centuries. Its white houses are built on the mountain slopes of the Ligurian Apennines above a sheltered harbor at the head of the Gulf of Genoa; among them stand medieval churches and Renaissance palaces. Crowded shipping in the harbor and skyscrapers rising in the business district show the city’s present prosperity as Italy’s chief port. The beautiful Italian Riviera spreads to the east and west. Near the harbor is a little house that was the birthplace, in 1451, of Genoa’s most famous son: Christopher Columbus.
To admire the Golden Gallery
To admire the Golden Gallery
At number 4 in Via Garibaldi, you’ll find Palazzo Tobia Pallavicino-Carrega Cataldi, seat of the present Chamber of Commerce. The palace was built between 1558 and 1561 for Tobia Pallavicino, one of the wealthiest and most influential Genovese nobleman of that time. At the first floor of the Chamber of Commerce is a magnificent meeting room, known as the Galleria Dorata (Golden Gallery), all covered with frescoes and gilded decorations. Designed by Lorenzo de Ferrari (1680-1744), the room is one of the most refined examples of Genovese rococo.
To walk down the Strade Nuove
To walk down the Strade Nuove
The Strade Nuove (“New Streets”) were built by the most influential Genovese families to show off their prestige and power during the city’s “Golden Age” (1557 to 1627). The initiative resulted in a unique ensemble of magnificent late-Renaissance and Baroque buildings, one of Italy’s most sumptuous streets. The main street is Via Garibaldi (then known as Strada Nuova), but don’t miss the characteristic Via del Campo, cited in a song by the Genovese Fabrizio De André, one of the most important Italian songwriters of all times.
To discover the system of Rolli
To discover the system of Rolli
The Strade Nuove were one of the first examples of an urban development project in Europe that was carried out with a specific purpose, namely that of developing a system designed to offer accommodation to illustrious guests and noblemen on state visits in the city. The system was known as that of the Palazzi dei Rolli, after the lists or rolls on which these aristocratic residences, which had the privilege of hosting important visitors, were included.
The residences were organized into three levels (bussoli) representing the luxury, size and beauty of the palaces and the importance and dignity of the guests. The magnificent palaces of Via Garibaldi were all built between 1558 and 1584 (except Palazzo Rosso and Palazzo Bianco) with spectacular open staircases, courtyards and loggias overlooking gardens in a relatively tight space. The former Palazzo Tursi at number 9, now the townhall (municipio), includes the violin of Paganini and letters by Christopher Columbus, both native of Genoa. However, the system of Rolli extended well beyond Via Garibaldi, including at least 120 palaces of which 42 have been added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2006.
To explore the Centro storico and the Mura
To explore the Centro storico and the Mura
The historic center is a maze of narrow streets (caruggi), beautiful squares and ancient historic shops, worth exploring. While Genoa’s historic center is not the largest one of Italy, it is definitely the one with the highest density of historic buildings. The most ancient part corresponds to the area located within the 9th century city walls (Mura), also known as the Carolingian walls. Genoa counts seven rings of walls that were built during subsequent periods, and has more and longer walls than any other city in Italy.
To visit the Cathedral of San Lorenzo
To visit the Cathedral of San Lorenzo
At the centre of the city, the St. Lawrence's Cathedral is dedicate to the martyr and it's just one of the symbol of Genoa. Consecrated in 1118, its suggestive narrow facade between the two towers presents the typical Genoan style-gothic portals while the marbled statues of the two lions date back to the Nineteenth century. The inner is characterized with three aisles divided by columns surmounted by false gothic matroneoes and by Romanesque arches. At the left aisl you can enter the St Lawrence's Treasure Museum where you can admire sacred privileged objects such as the Sacro Catino that, according to the Catholics, is the dish used by Jesus in the Last Supper.
To trek in the city and Spianata Castelletto
To trek in the city and Spianata Castelletto
The Spianata Castelletto offers one of the most scenic views over the city. Interesting is also the view from the Museo delle Culture del Mondo housed in Castello d’Albertis. The castle can be reached from the center by the lift Montegalletto, the only lift in the world that moves first horizontally and then vertically. Beautiful to trek through is also the Parco delle Mura, which can be explored on foot or by bike within a wonderful natural reserve. Another way to hike the city is following the crêuze (or creuse), a network of tiny, steep, cobblestoned pedestrian paths that connect the city center with the bucolic hinterland. The creuse network is unique in its kind in Europe, providing an alternative way to reach the hill quarters of the city.
To see Porto Vecchio and the Lanterna
To see Porto Vecchio and the Lanterna
The Porto Vecchio is the curve that stretches from the Molo Vecchio to the Lanterna, the 76m hight lighthouse and emblem of Genoa. The area of the Porto Vecchio was renovated by the famous architect Renzo Piano at the occasion of the international expo commemorating the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America, creating a single pedestrian zone that goes from Piazza Caricamento into the port.
The Lanterna is visible to all those who put in at the port, from whatever direction. It was last rebuilt in 1543. Walk up the 375 steps to admire the beautiful panoramic view from its terrace.
To visit Genoa Aquarium
To visit Genoa Aquarium
Also located in the Porto Antico is the Genoa Aquarium (Acquario di Genova). Opened in 1992, it is Europe’s largest marine attraction hosting 800 different species and more than 10,000 marine creatures. At the moment of its opening it was the second largest aquarium in the world. A complete visit takes about 2 hours 30.
To discover seaside villages
To discover seaside villages
Providing a break from the bustle of Genoa, the colourful corner of Boccadasse is a mere 15 minutes’ drive away. One of the most photographed parts of Genoa, its jumble of pastel-painted houses bears a striking resemblance to the more famous Cinque Terre.
A little further out, an oceanfront path in Nervi offers spectacular views along stretches of the Italian coastline. The village is also home to some of Genoa’s most prominent museums, many of which can be accessed via a stroll through Nervi’s extensive public parks.
To taste the Genovese cuisine
To taste the Genovese cuisine
Historically one of the most important ports on the Mediterranean, visitors to Genoa will be hard pushed to find a menu that doesn’t feature an abundance of seafood. But the city’s most famous home-grown delicacy is undoubtedly its pesto, a tasty sauce made from basil, pine nuts, parmigiano, garlic, and bit of olive oil.
Afterwards, treat yourself to a gelato from one of the ubiquitous gelaterias, that store their treats in deep, lidded bins, protecting top quality, all-natural gelato in the process.