Genoa sights and attractions.

Genoa

Genoa (Italy) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Genoa with descriptions, travel guides and maps.

City of Genoa (Italy)

Genoa is a city in northwestern Italy, the capital of Liguria. It is one of the largest Italian ports with a glorious and rich history. Genoa is the capital of the once powerful and rich maritime republic with the largest historical center among the cities of Europe, the birthplace of the legendary Columbus and the genius Paganini. It is a city with an amazing charm: the sea, the old port, many rich ancient palaces and beautiful sights hidden among the cozy streets and reminiscent of the past wealth, fine cuisine and a peculiar port atmosphere. All this makes Genoa one of the most interesting cities in Italy.

The capital of Liguria is often neglected. Most tourists who come to Italy want to see the antiquities of Rome, touch the cultural jewels of Florence, dream of Venice or shopping in Milan. Many people think that Genoa is a pale shadow of the mighty maritime power, just a big city and a major port. And that’s not quite true! Here the facades of rich historical buildings and cultural monuments are hidden among the untidy but atmospheric streets, which are filled with charming alleyways, street cafes and restaurants, and in the old port is still as lively as ever.

Things to do (Genoa):

Genoa today

€144 per tour

Genoa today

Sightseeing tour of the largest historic center in Europe

Orthodox artifacts in the Catholic churches of Genoa

€130 per excursion

Orthodox artifacts in the Catholic churches of Genoa

The city’s unique religious relics and their significance – walking tour

Geography and climate

Genoa is located in northwestern Italy almost at the base of the “Italian boot.” The city stretches in a long narrow strip along the Gulf of Genoa on the Ligurian Sea and is bounded by the sea and the Appenine Mountains. The climate is humid subtropical. Summers are quite hot and winters are rainy and cool. The city receives more than 1000 mm of rainfall per year.

Panorama of Genoa

Panorama of Genoa

Tourist information

  1. Population is 595 thousand people.
  2. Area – 243.60 square kilometers.
  3. Language: Italian.
  4. Currency – Euro.
  5. Visa – Schengen.
  6. Time – Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
  7. Addresses of tourist information centers: airport, Via Garibaldi, 12r, Via al Porto Antico, 2, and Ponte dei Mille.
  8. The voltage in the electrical network is 220V.
  9. Most stores and restaurants accept bank cards.
  10. Most museums and attractions are closed on Mondays.
  11. Some stores may be closed from 12:30 to 3:30 pm.

Best times to visit

Best time to visit: May-September. In October, the frequent rainy season begins and lasts until February.

History

In antiquity, on the coast of the Gulf of Genoa there was a small Greek colony. Later the fishermen’s settlement of the Ligurian tribe was founded here, but it was destroyed in the 3rd century B.C. by Carthage. Around this time, the area was annexed to the Roman Empire. After its dissolution, Genoa was alternately ruled by the Ostgoths, Byzantines, Lombards and Franks.

The formation of Genoa as one of the largest ports begins in the 10th century. In the 12th century it was already an independent city-state with an extensive network of colonies and numerous trade ties, not inferior in wealth to Venice and Pisa.

Port of Genoa

Port of Genoa

The period of decline of the maritime republic began in the 14th century. At the end of the century Genoa fell into dependence on the French and in 1421 on the Milanese. In the 16th century there is a revival of the city. With the discovery of America and thanks to the alliance with Spain, Genoa became one of the richest cities in Europe. The economic well-being and prosperity lasted until the 18th century.

In the 18th century the Genoese Republic was transformed into a French protectorate, and later joined France altogether. After the end of the Napoleonic wars and the Congress of Vienna, Genoa became part of Piedmont. In the second half of the 19th century the city was a part of the United Italy.

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How to get there

The international airport named after Cristoforo Colombo is situated in Genoa. Christopher Columbus International Airport is about 10 km from the city. It offers regular flights to Rome, London, Paris, Moscow, Istanbul, Munich. You can easily reach Genoa by train and bus from Milan, Turin, Rome, Florence, Nice, Pisa, Livorno.

Shopping

Genoa is a great place for shopping. It is easy to find designer boutiques, supermarkets, and antique stores. Brand stores are located in the Via Settembre area. A large shopping center called Fiumara is located next to the train station.

Genoa is famous for its gastronomy. The main features of Ligurian cuisine are pesto sauce, focaccia, fresh seafood and fish, pasta, farinata (chickpea dish). In the pizzerias you can try a good pizza. A popular place with a large concentration of cafes and restaurants is the Piazza delle Erbe area. Many inexpensive establishments can be found on Via Garibaldi.

Panorama of the city

A View of the City

Attractions

Garibaldi Street

Via Garibaldi

Via Garibaldi is a true gem of Genoa. It was founded in the 16th century and was the site of the palaces of the rich Genoese. In this small space chic houses with coats of arms of noble families stand side by side, competing with each other in beauty of architecture and richness of finishing facades. Via Garibaldi is just north of Piazza Ferrari, near the Mariners’ Quarter. The Palazzo Rosso, Bianco and Tursi are open to the public. And the street itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Cathedral

Cathedral

San Lorenzo Cathedral is a majestic church and the city’s main sacral structure. The cathedral was built in the 12th century as a Romanesque basilica, reconstructed in the 14th century in Gothic style and rebuilt again in early Renaissance style in the 16th century. The building has a beautiful marble facade. Precious Christian relics are preserved here: the ashes of John the Baptist and a plate on which Salome is believed to have been represented by the saint’s head.

Santi Ambrogio

Santi Ambrogio

Santi Ambrogio is a Jesuit church in the small Piazza Matteotti, built in the 16th century in the Renaissance style. The church is said to have the most beautiful interior among Genoa’s religious buildings: ornate Baroque with marble, frescoes and two paintings by Rubens.

Church of San Matteo

Church of San Matteo

San Matteo is a small 13th-century Gothic church with a marble facade. It is located near Santi Ambrogio on Via Tommaso. Inside there are many relics from the period of the Genoese Republic. In the crypt is the tomb of Andrea Doria, who in the 16th century restored the independence of Genoa and increased the wealth of the city.

Santa Maria di Castello

Santa Maria di Castello

Santa Maria di Castello is a 12th century Romanesque church with beautiful frescoes. It is located in one of the oldest places in Genoa, where the Etruscans and Phoenicians traded. A Dominican monastery was founded here in the 15th century.

Jesus Church

Church of Jesus

The Church of Jesus is a 16th-century Jesuit church with a beautiful Genoese Baroque interior decorated with colorful marble. The religious structure was built on the site of an earlier church founded by Bishop Ambrogio of Milan, who had fled from the Lombards.

Cimitero di Staglieno

Cimitero di Staglieno

Cimitero di Staglieno is the beautiful Campo Santo, one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Italy. Here you can find many interesting tombstones in the Art Nouveau and Art Nouveau styles.

Genoese Aquarium

Genoese Aquarium

The Genoese Aquarium is one of the largest structures of its type in Italy and Europe. It was built in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage. A great place for a family vacation.

Genoese Harbour

Genoese harbor

Genoese harbor is one of the largest ports in the Mediterranean, 22 kilometers of piers with marinas, maritime vessels, folding and industrial cranes. We recommend a visit to Porto Antti, the old port where the ships of Admiral Doria were built in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Porta Soprano

Porta Soprano

Porta Soprano is the two well-preserved towers of the medieval 12th century city gate. Nearby is the Columbus house where the famous navigator is believed to have spent his childhood.

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Royal Palace

Royal Palace

The Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale) is a luxurious 17th century mansion with grand staircases, balconies, sumptuously decorated interiors and a collection of artworks.

Piazza Ferrari

Piazza Ferrari

Piazza Ferrari is the lively center of Genoa with a beautiful fountain. The square is surrounded by beautiful neo-Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings.

Palazzo Ducale

Palazzo Ducale

Palazzo Ducale is one of Genoa’s most majestic historic buildings, the palace of the Doge of Genoa. The building was founded in the 13th century. The medieval part is still perfectly visible. The palace was constantly expanded and rebuilt. The last reconstruction was done in 1992.

Embriacci

Embriacci

Embriaci is a tall medieval tower built in the 11th century. It is one of the few surviving towers that were built by prominent Genoese near their homes.

Piazza Vittoria

Piazza Vittoria

Piazza Vittoria is one of the central squares of the city with an imposing triumphal arch built in the 1930s.

Aqueduct

Aqueduct

The aqueduct is an engineering structure for supplying water to the city, built in the 13th century.

San Giorgio

San Giorgio

San Giorgio is one of Genoa’s most beautiful and striking buildings with a beautiful facade that houses the port authority. The history of the palace began in the 13th century. This palazzo consists of two different parts: one part is older, a typical example of medieval urban architecture, and the other is in the Renaissance style.

Lanterna

Lanterna

The Lantern is one of the symbols of Genoa, the lighthouse of the 16th century is 117 meters high. To see the port and the historic center of the city from its height you have to climb 172 steps.

Fishermen's Village

Fishermen’s Village

Fishermen’s Village is an ancient and picturesque seaside enclave located within Genoa. It is an area of pretty pastel cottages and cozy terraced restaurants.

There are virtually no beaches in Genoa, although the capital of Liguria is not far from beach resorts. A nice little pebble beach can be found just in the fishing village.

Italy’s most underrated city: why go to Genoa?

We tell you why Genoa and Liguria (without Cinque Terre) might be your next trip to Italy.

Elena Filippova

Most Russian-language media and bloggers ignore Genoa, all because most people come to Liguria with only one goal in mind: to rub elbows in Cinque Terre. As is often the case in today’s world, there is a real treasure next to an ultra-popular location, but alas, few people notice it. The PRTBRT editorial staff spent almost a week in Genoa and was struck by how beautiful, comfortable and interesting it is.

Pobeda Airlines launched a direct regular flight to Genoa at the end of April. It has become easy and cheap to get here. Especially interesting are the flights of “Pobeda” in the off-season – for 8 thousand rubles you can buy tickets there and back.

Vertical City

PRTBRT has its own internal checklist of cool cities. Some of the most important points in it are landscape and proximity to water. Genoa immediately gets 100 points on both counts. This city is called vertical for a reason – as if it was built on the principle of amphitheatre. If you go inland from the port, you’ll be surprised how quickly the city starts to creep upward. The system of public transport includes not only the traditional buses and streetcars, but also numerous funiculars and even public elevators. Using them is sheer pleasure and fun. When you get to the top you are sure to find an interesting observation deck and the descent down the stairs, past terraced houses and cozy gardens is a great opportunity to see how ordinary Genoese live.

Tip: It is worth seeing the city from two locations: the Spianata Castelletto and the Zecca – Righi cable car route to the end station.

Medieval Town

The phrase “perfectly preserved medieval town” does not mean anything to an experienced tourist. Rather, on the contrary, I think of Prague, Tallinn (at best Brugge) – cities, beautiful in general, but absolutely lifeless in terms of local colors. Everything in the historical centers of these cities is somehow related to tourism, which completely kills the romance of the old city, turning it into a boring museum-decoration, where every other cafe serves avocado toast for breakfast. Genoa is not like that at all.

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In addition to its historical value (and its medieval center is considered one of the largest in Europe), there is something else important here. This city is alive. In its medieval streets, ordinary life goes on as usual in spite of the neighborhood of 13th century buildings. The best way to see and feel Genoa is to turn off the phone and let yourself get lost in the old and dark streets of the city. Gradually, when the picture of the center begins to emerge, you will become oriented in this labyrinth of streets. And you will be surprised at the colorful characters you can meet in these narrow and dark carruggi (as the Genoese call the small and winding streets of the old town).

The Palazzi dei Rolli is worth mentioning separately. There are 42 palaces that once belonged to the Genoese aristocracy. In addition to the fact that each building is a masterpiece of early Baroque, all together they are the first project of centralized urban development in European history. Such medieval urbanism!

It is interesting how the character of the Genoese of that time is revealed through these palaces. For example, all the stucco on the palaces is not real – the visual effect of volume is created by the drawings on the facade. It turned out that the stucco is terribly expensive and quickly deteriorates – much easier (and cheaper) to hire a good artist, who will draw all that the soul desires. Or the arrangement of the palaces – they were built so that no one from the street could see what was going on inside. The wealthy Genoese never came close to the windows and tried not to spread the word about the lavish balls that took place inside. Long black cloaks were worn in the streets, carefully concealing all luxury and wealth. It is said that because of this attitude to wealth there was never a riot or rebellion in the city.

Now it is possible to visit only some of the palaces. Many of them are privately owned and open only once a year for Rolli Days. We recommend checking out the Palazzo Spinola di Pellicceria and the Museo di Palazzo Reale.

For the next level of immersion in the medieval city, be sure to visit one of the cathedrals. For example, the Cathedral of San Lorenzo (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo) – there is a unique treasury of Tesoro, which houses more than 500 religious artifacts. All of them are very unusual and beautiful – this museum will be of interest to everyone, even to people far from religion.

Antique Bottegs.

For almost 800 years Genoa was a metropolis, on the importance and wealth not inferior to Venice, Milan, Florence and other Italian cities-states. They have always been able to do business here, and prudence, practicality and foresight have been considered the best qualities of a Genoese. No wonder there is a unique list – Botteghe Storiche di Genova, which includes 39 ancient stores, or as they are called here, botteghe.

These are real monuments to small business: all the shops, stores and workshops are more than 100 years old (and some are under 200). Not only that, but most places are run by the great-great-grandchildren of the founders of these shops. So don’t be surprised by the similarity between the old photographs on the walls and the faces of the people working behind the cash register. In general, looking at these places is a separate pleasure. Antique signs, artifacts of the past in the form of huge brass cash registers and bills, marble counters and mosaics with intricate designs on the floor – these places look like real museums.

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In essence, the botteg list is a ready-made itinerary that is best started early in the morning. In a couple of hours of walking, you can drink coffee with melt-in-your-mouth amaretti at the 200-year-old pastry shop Pasticceria Liquoreria Marescotti Genova, explore ancient maps and folios at the antique store Libreria Antiquaria Dallai, buy a napkin or tablecloth at the unique Genoese mezzari cloth store Giovanni Rivara fu Luigi and of course taste the local wine at Cantine Moretti.

Tip: Before you travel to Genoa and Liguria, check out the Visit Genoa website. It has a lot of up-to-date information, interesting picks and itineraries.

Ligurian cuisine

Liguria is a region with a great location: local vegetables, fruits, herbs and olives are known all over Italy. At first glance, the local cuisine may seem simple, but therein lies its main strength. Ligurians cook simply, nourishingly and unusually tasty.

What is definitely worth trying in Genoa and Liguria? Pesto, of course. In every café and store you will find its classic variation. The one that everyone in the world calls pesto allo genovese. And that means it contains green basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, parmesan, and nothing else. It’s very interesting to order the classic pesto pasta at least once. You’ll be surprised at a few things: how delicious this dish is, and the fact that in addition to pasta and pesto sauce, you’ll find chunks of boiled potatoes on your plate!

Another of Liguria’s trademarks are the different variations of scones. You have to look for them in the numerous focaccerias. The variety of these scones will surprise you: from the classic ones with herbs and olives to the complex ones with anchovies and cumin. The main editorial favorite is the humble but incredibly delicious focaccia with baked onions (it goes great with pesto!).

Another famous bakery of the region is the farinata, a peasant flatbread made with lentil flour and olive oil. Just be careful: it is a very fatty and hearty dish. By the way, Trattoria Sa Pesta, which makes some of the best flatbread in town, is on the list of vintage botttegs. Sample an assortment of different flavors (our favorite is the spinach and cheese flatbread), sit in the corner, and watch what interesting people stop by this vintage trattoria for lunch.

Tip: The Ligurian authorities actively support restaurants that have been preparing traditional food from the best local produce for generations. To this end, the website genovagourmet.it was created, where you can find a list of 50 traditional restaurants in the region. Often these are inconspicuous, small establishments where you’re more likely to meet locals than tourists. We visited more than ten restaurants on the list and were absolutely delighted! All were delicious, and the prices were lower than the places googled or found on TripAdvisor.

Liguria is a paradise for anyone who loves fish and seafood. Fish is cooked in every way possible here: grilled with vegetables, roasted whole, made small fish ravioli and even a salad of gulf. The most important fish in the region is anchovy. Fresh, fried, canned, stuffed – Ligurians even put it in focaccia. We suggest trying everything with it until you find your perfect appetizer! If you want to take a couple of jars of anchovies back to Russia, look for the ones with “Acciughe Sotto Sale del Mar Ligure IGP” written on them.

In Italy, don’t be afraid to try new kinds of fish and seafood. Fishermen complain that tourists know only two types of fish – sea bass and sea bream – and refuse to try the rest. It’s important to understand that a catch at sea is not a supermarket purchase, and fishermen’s work is hard, and it’s worth respecting their hard work!

Coastal cities by train

We in the editorial team realized long ago: traveling in Italy (especially along the coast) is best by train. In our experience in Amalfi and Liguria we don’t find it useful here – narrow roads, expensive parking and endless traffic just take your time. Especially if you travel in Liguria. This region is a rail travel paradise. Just half an hour in any direction from Genoa – and in front of you a whole array of picturesque fishing villages and small towns.

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Most importantly, forget about Cinque Terre – its fame has become so huge that it’s crowded at all times of the year. Instead, it’s better to check out the following places:

  • Nervi. A former fishing village and now a picturesque resort area with villas and manor houses. There are several cool museums, a huge botanical park and the promenade of Anita Garibaldi, which stretches along the cliffs for two kilometers.

Norodok Nervi in Italy

  • Boccadasse. Another fishing village, a potential Instagram star and, most importantly, a place where you can eat fresh fish caught a few hours ago. Be sure to check out Café Ittiturismo Genova Boccadasse. This place is run by an association of local fishermen, so the menu here is constantly changing – everything depends on the catch. By the way, you’ll see pictures of the fishermen’s boats on the walls of the cafe – you can always see them live on the town’s small beach.

Boccadasse beach in Italy

View of the sea from Boccadasse in Italy

  • Sestri Levante. A real pearl of the Ligurian coast. A small and beautiful town where you can spend a few days walking along two bays, climbing in small tracks in the mountains and swimming in the sea.

  • San Remo (Sanremo) . Italian resort, which bloomed in the early 19th century, is iconic for pre-revolutionary Russia. Nowadays it’s a garden city full of flowers and exotic palm trees. The streets are lined with rich retirees from whom it’s worth taking a few lessons in relaxed lifestyle and hedonism. The city itself is divided into two parts: the ancient medieval and new, built in the XX century. They are very different, one gets the feeling that they are two completely different cities – be sure to see both, the contrast is truly striking.

The main attraction is a huge Belle Époque-style casino. Visiting a casino, in our opinion, is a rather strange and unusual experience, but better to do it in style and brilliance here than, for example, in Las Vegas.

Oh, and for anyone who likes to ride a bike: from the station of San Lorenzo to San Remo there is an incredibly beautiful bike path. The 28 kilometers along the sea and picturesque cliffs are definitely worth the trip.

Sea Museum and Oceanarium

Genoa became a great city because of the sea and its port. In the Middle Ages Genoese merchants traded throughout the Mediterranean and Black Sea. And the colonies of the city-state could be found even in Palestine, Turkey and the Crimea. To this day, life in the city is built around two ports: the old and new. In the new port come numerous cruise ships and cargo ships, in the old park yachts and are two major attractions – the Sea Museum (Galata Museo del Mare) and the Aquarium of Genoa (Acquario di Genova).

If the Museum of the Sea can take only a couple of hours, the Aquarium can safely go for half a day. This is not only one of the largest aquariums in Europe, but also a serious research center for the study of the sea. Inside, there are several floors with different animals and fish. Especially impressive are the aquariums with inhabitants of the Mediterranean Sea (although it would seem) – you can see who lives, for example, at the bottom of the Cinque Terre.

We were somewhat surprised by the presence of dolphins here, but as the aquarium employee assured us, “dolphins are here as part of a huge scientific study Delfini Metropolitani. It is a special program that brings together scientists from France, Italy and Monaco and was created to study the dolphins that live in the Mediterranean Sea.

The editorial team thanks Visit Genoa for their help in preparing the material.

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