Dear traveller friends, after our tour of Sanremo, today I want to bring you to another place in Liguria—Genova—now sadly known for the Morandi Bridge collapse.
We have seen it on television and in newspapers, but Genova is much more than just a congested city. Liguria’s Capitol offers many suggestive places and monuments, and definitely deserves a visit.
Even if it’s quite a big town, you can visit Genova on a two-day tour. Most of the points of interests, in fact, are in the city centre and can be reached on foot.
Genova has quite a mild weather and can be visited any time during the year. The only drawback can be a strong and cold wind, especially in Winter. In that case, a windbreaker is always better than an umbrella.
The best way to reach Genova is by train. If you come from far away, you can come by plane, but I strongly discourage you from going to Genova by car. The traffic is always congested, the historic centre is mostly a pedestrian area and parking lots are scarce and expensive. If you are forced to go by car for some reason, I suggest you find a hotel with a private parking lot. While driving around town, be careful to stay out of the yellow bus lanes—controls are frequent, and the fines are high.
Since the best way to reach the town is by train, let’s consider Genova Brignole Railway Station as the starting point of our tour. The first two points of interest are situated in Piazza
After exploring Piazza
At the top, Via San Vincenzo meets Via XX Settembre, the most important shopping street in Genova. Once you get past the monumental bridge, don’t forget to look up towards the suggestive St. Stephen Abbey.
At the top of Via XX Settembre, the street widens into Piazza De Ferrari, easily recognisable thanks to the huge fountain. This is the centre of the town, with the Region Building, Carlo Felice Theatre and Palazzo Ducale.
Palazzo Ducale is the main point of interest in Piazza De Ferrari. It was built during the Thirteenth century as the seat for the Comune’s representatives. At that time, in fact, Genova was one of the most important Maritime Republics in the Mediterranean Sea. This building is now home to several exhibitions. You can check for permanent and temporary exhibitions here.
Now it’s time to go on with our tour and walk along Via San Lorenzo. Stop to admire San Lorenzo’s Cathedral, the most important church in town. Even if its origins date back to the Third Century, the cathedral has undergone several changes and expansions over the centuries. Today the facade is decorated with white and black horizontal stripes, a typical design for noble buildings. The interior shows the same kind of decoration, and it is enriched by frescoes and colourful glass windows on the apsis.
Once you complete your visit to the Cathedral, head down toward the sea and have a stroll among the typical alleys until you reach San Giorgio’s Church. This church dates back to the Tenth Century. It was severely damaged in the past, that’s why it was rebuilt twice. The most peculiar feature of this church is the circular ground plan with a domed roof.
Now you can head toward the sea. Palazzo San Giorgio is the building that marks the entrance in the Porto Antico (Old Port). This famous palace shows two different architectural styles. The imposing facade facing the sea is entirely decorated with Renaissance frescoes, while the other side shows medieval features. The frescoes depict scenes that celebrate the glory of the Maritime Republic.
Take a stroll around the port and go up the Bigo, the elevator from which you can enjoy a beautiful view over the town. Now it’s time to visit one of the essential points of interest in town—Galata, the Sea Museum. This interesting museum reminisces the history of the city and stresses out the importance Genova always had in the maritime field. Here you can delve into the history of Cristoforo Colombo and Andrea Doria, examine the reproduction of a Seventeenth-Century galley, visit a submarine and much more.
Once you end your visit to the museum, it’s time to find someplace for lunch. The Porto Antico’s district is one of the best for restaurants. You won’t have any problem in finding a typical trattoria that serves local dishes. I recommend the Osteria di Vico Palla.
Now that lunchtime is over, it’s time to visit another essential attraction in town. Genova’s Aquarium, the biggest in Europe. Inside you’ll be able to see over six-hundreds marine species and two-hundreds plant species. The Aquarium is surely the unmissable stop in your tour of Genova.
If you want to save some money, you can buy a cumulative ticket for the main attraction at the Porto Antico—the Bigo, Galata Museum, the submarine, the Aquarium and the Biosfera, a big sphere build in steel and glass that contains animals and plants from a tropical environment.
After all the day’s activities, now it’s time to enjoy a fascinating sunset. The best place to do so is Boccadasse, a small fishing village that is now incorporated into the town. You can reach it with bus number 42, leaving from Piazza Dante, not far from Piazza De Ferrari.
Even if Boccadasse is now part of Genova, its charm is intact and its appearance unaltered. You can’t miss a stroll along the narrow and steep alleys—called “
Boccadasse can be an excellent place to have dinner. You won’t have any problem in finding a restaurant. After dinner, you can walk back toward the town centre along Corso Italia—a long boulevard that runs along the coastline. If Boccadasse’s restaurant doesn’t appeal to you, you can surely find something in Corso Italia.
From here you can go back to Brignole Railway Station with bus number 31 or the night bus number 607.
On your second day, you can visit the oldest part of Genova—the typical
The first stop is the Basilica
In the near Via Balbi, you can visit another interesting building—the Royal Palace Museum. Built around 1600 in baroque style, it was a residence of the Savoy family, and it now hosts the most important art gallery in town. The tour of this museum is perfect both for admiring paintings by the most famous artists from Genova and for visiting the richly furnished rooms.
Now go back to Piazza
Both Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Rosso host museums. If you are not passionate about art, you can skip them. However, I strongly recommend a stop in the entrance hall at Palazzo Doria Tursi. Here you can see a collection of all the names of the territories now part of Genova.
After spending the morning exploring the typical alleys, it’s time to have a traditional lunch. One of the iconic places in town is the Trattoria Da Maria. This rustic but welcoming place serves dishes from the tradition at very reasonable prices. This restaurant is in Vico Testadoro,
After having lunch, head towards Piazza De Ferrari and take bus n°17. After a few stops, it will reach the end of the line. Wait for the bus to depart again and go to Nervi, one of the eastern districts. Once you arrive in the neighbourhood, search for a small alley leading from the bus stop to the Porticciolo
Now that you are back in the city centre, if you still have time, you can window-shop along Via San Vincenzo and Via XX Settembre.
In case you plan to remain in town for another night, there is a typical experience you don’t want to miss. Go to Piazza Portello—near the alleys where you spent the morning— take the elevator and reach Spianata Castelletto. From here, you’ll be able to enjoy one of the best views over the town at sunset. You can now have your happy hour at the
Our tour in Genova is over now.
I hope I managed to spark your interest toward Genova and its beauties.
Don’t hesitate to ask for suggestions and curiosities in the comments. See you for the next Italian tour!