Savona, Italy – what to see, where to eat, and what to do in the evening

Savona travel guide

Morgana

Although Savona is not a very popular vacation spot for Russian speakers, it is still a noteworthy city and can be a real find when looking for a nice place to stay. Not only is it the largest village in Liguria, located in a beautiful area west of Genoa, but also the administrative center of the province and a major port. Its convenient location (the city is right on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea), mild climate and quite developed tourist infrastructure makes this noiseless but cozy city a real highlight for those who crave new experiences and emotions. Here you can not only bask on one of the cleanest beaches under the gentle Italian sun (located right outside the city beaches Albissola Marina and Albissola Superiore are marked for purity and tourist attraction by the Blue Flag), but also to get acquainted with the local attractions and ancient history and culture of the region, to visit not so far away Genoa (40 kilometers), Nice or Monaco (about 90 km), and to enjoy the delights of traditional cuisine and taste the wine made in the region. In addition, in Savona a lot of good stores, so you can combine the holiday here with a successful shopping. So a vacation in Savona should be a nice surprise and leave only good memories.

When should I go on vacation to Savona?

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Probably many people would agree with me if I say that I want to visit Italy all the time, because this is one of those countries that are great at any time of year. And this applies not only to sightseeing or the beauties of the country itself, because here they go not just for that, but also of course to spend your vacation, and if it is combined together, it turns out that the pleasure of it only doubles. Yes, and holidays in Italy can be different, because not only the beautiful beaches, picturesque islands and warm sea can attract tourists. Many people come in the winter, the ski resorts, or visit health resorts, which are not a few, to rest and recuperate. But now we will talk about summer holidays and a particular resort, which is Savona, located on the northwestern coast of the Ligurian Sea.

Despite the fact that this is the Mediterranean basin, whose water in our understanding is associated as warm enough, however, this northern part of it, and the beginning of the summer season here is at a later date than, for example, in the south of the same Italy. Of course, the temperatures can be very warm in May, but as for the weather, it is still pretty unstable in this month and there are large swings because of the sudden precipitations, which are not uncommon… Read more

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Where to stay in Savona?

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Despite the fact that Savona is not very popular resort center, in summer time the town attracts a lot of tourists wishing to relax by the sea. It is not surprising that there are enough accommodation options.

I will probably start with the 4-star hotels that deserve attention.

The Mare Hotel (Via Nizza 89/R), located right on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, is the first to mention. The main things that attract guests to the hotel are the beautiful view from the window, the private beach, the large terrace with outdoor pool and the neat and cozy rooms. By the way, the room rate per night is quite moderate for a hotel of this category – from 100 to 250 euros (depending on the category of rooms and season).

Idea Hotel Plus Savona, located in Via Stalingrado 94, may be very attractive to travelers. Guests are immediately attracted by the bright design of the building and the advantages of this hotel are comfortable and spacious modern rooms equipped with everything you need (hairdryer, mini bar, kettle, air conditioning), friendly and attentive staff and convenient location (there is a supermarket and some good stores near the hotel and besides, it is close to the city center). Among other things, the hotel has a 24-hour bar and free parking for guests arriving by car. From personal experience, I can say that the hotel.

What to see in Savona?

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Savona is not just a large port in Liguria, located on the Mediterranean Sea, but it is also an important historical and cultural center of the region, which has preserved a large number of monuments, testifying to its rich heritage.

The settlement of Savo, which dates back to the Bronze Age, has survived a lot in its time. At the turn of the old and new eras, the city fought the Romans, defending its independence, fighting with Genoa for the right to be called the largest port in the region. In the Middle Ages it was not once in the center of armed conflicts, being destroyed by the Lombards in the 7th century, competing incessantly with Genoa for power, falling apart after another conflict and recovering again. The city has indeed shown remarkable resilience and still keeps the memories of its turbulent but heroic past in its land.

A true pride of the citizens and a kind of symbol of Savona is the Fortezza del Priamar, built by the Genoese in the 16th century to protect the city from the sea. Two centuries later it was rebuilt and further strengthened. Losing its defensive value over time, the fortress was soon rebuilt and turned into a prison that imprisoned many unification fighters known throughout Italy. Giuseppe Mazzini is considered the most famous of its inmates, imprisoned for his active resistance in 1831.

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Nowadays you can not only take a walk.

What to buy?

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Savona is a typical Italian resort town. Small, but very comfortable and cozy. Here you can not only enjoy recreation, sunbathing on the beach or viewing the local attractions, but also to go shopping, which remain only pleasant memories. First of all, and surprise them here enough. And, as they say, for all tastes and purses. And secondly, the place is not so untwisted, so the prices for the goods are quite affordable.

As for what exactly you can see here, it is, of course, Italian products and wines. Among the famous Italian cheeses we can especially mention the hard “Parmesan”, or its counterpart “Parmigiano Reggiano”, ideal for pizza or pasta. Its advantages include not only a bright and rich flavor, but also the ability to withstand transportation, which makes it the most attractive of all Italian cheeses as a souvenir. As for the price, a packed slice of Parmesan will cost an average of 12 to 17 euros.

Speaking of the typical Italian products, which can be bought in Savona, we can also mention the pasta “pesto” (made on the basis of basil and used as an addition to dishes or sauces) and “pesto Roso” (similar to green pesto, but with the addition of tomatoes and nuts, sometimes cheese). In addition, many people also like tapenade, made usually with olives and anchovies and ideal for spreading on toasted small toasts.

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Savona – What to see in a day cruise

Savona is the coziest little corner of the South on the shore of the gentle Ligurian Sea. This city is famous for its history and charms visitors with its narrow medieval streets and hot sun. It seems the embodiment of peace and tranquility, not least of which is the fact that Savona is not often seen in the pages of tourist brochures. And for good reason.

The view of the city and the Leon Pancaldo observation tower from the cruise ships moored in Savona

Because here you can find fresh air, friendly smiles on the faces of locals who readily explain tourists what’s what, and of course, a large number of attractions, to get to which is not difficult, because the port is located in the center of the city.

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So, you hear the sound of the horn, announcing the arrival of a ship in port, go ashore … Welcome to Savona! The city welcomes you with a true Italian hospitality – a fresh breeze and sunshine. It’s hard to find a cloudy weather here: the local sky is pleasant without clouds for most of the year. From here you can catch a glimpse of Savona’s main attraction – the Genoese Fortezza del Priamar. Once the main defender of the city from the sea, today this imposing and even somewhat somber building towers above the houses and draws the attention of tourists.

Religious Heritage

But we will go to the fortress a little bit later. We turn off on a little street called Piazza del Brandale and head for the first landmark on our way, the Sistine Chapel. It was built in the XV century by order of Pope Sixtus IV, the same who ordered to lay the church with the same name in Vatican. They were built almost simultaneously, but if the capital’s version became a pilgrim center for the entire Catholic world in a single moment, the historical path of the Savona chapel was less triumphant. It was built as a tomb for the noble and powerful Italian family of della Rovere, from which Sixtus IV was descended.

Behind the unpretentious whitewashed walls is a luxurious hall decorated with rich stucco and frescoes. Gilded wooden carvings, marble tombstones, an ancient mechanical organ – the place impresses and fascinates at first sight.

The Savonia Sistine Chapel adjoins the Cathedral. If you want, you can also visit the Diocesan Museum, a small treasury museum with a rich collection of all sorts of church relics.

Great Canvases

And in the neighboring streets, a 3-minute walk from the cathedral, is the city’s Pinacoteca Civica. To get there, you have to bypass a small cafe and peek into the arch, where the entrance to the museum is hidden. It is not easy to walk around all the exhibition halls, of which there are 22. But it’s worth it, since the works of art kept here are true masterpieces, the masterpieces of northern Italy. Here you can also buy souvenirs.

Snack time!

After viewing the paintings, painted ceramics and other art treasures, we go outside. Our feet lead us down a straight alley that leads directly to the Pinacotheca. And for good reason, because it is here, on Vico dei Crema, that you can find perhaps the most authentic cafe in all of Savona. It’s called Fette Panissa Via Pia, and there’s no better place to grab a bite. You won’t be able to sit down here, but that’s okay – for the appetizing panisse, one of the oldest Ligurian dishes, you can tolerate it. The dexterous hands of an elderly Italian woman cut the kneaded dough of chickpeas into very thin slices, fry them right in front of your eyes and generously fill a paper bag with them. Romance! A rare chance to feel like a true Italian, at least for a few minutes, touching the culinary heritage of this great country.

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By the Sea

After eating and drinking the panisse with cool drinks, you can return to the seafront. Stand on the shore, breathe in the salty sea air, admire the ships coming into port and set your face to the rays of the bright southern sun – and go back to the historic part of the city!

You won’t have to walk for long, just a few steps from the promenade there is the symbol of the city, an image often found on magnets and postcards of Savona – the Torre Leon Pancaldo, or Torre Leon Pancaldo in Italian. It is all that remains of the fortress wall that once rose on the seashore. It is enough to look at the tower, built of strong sand-colored blocks, to literally feel the breath of centuries. Named in honor of Magellan’s assistant born in this city, it reminds us of the heyday of seafaring, when great men made great discoveries, when the world seemed truly vast, and only a very brave man could break away on a journey.

By the way, they say that it was in Savona where Christopher Columbus – the legendary discoverer of America – spent his teenage years. Even the address is given – Via Belvedere 7. Not the center of the city, rather its suburbs. To get there on foot is unlikely – the house is separated from the port by as much as 4 kilometers. And no one will let you in, it’s just an apartment building, one of many. Nevertheless, this place looks very attractive: here the beauty of the Italian land is revealed in all its grandeur to the casual observer. Green caps stretching to the sky branches of trees, scattered with huge rocks wild coast, on which the hissing waves break the sea, the cry of free seagulls, flowers, fruits, dazzling sunshine, towering mountains in the distance – a fairy tale, and only.

Ancient Fortress

But back to our tour. Most of it is already behind us, only the main Savonian attraction is left, the Fortress of Primar. Along the coast we go straight to our destination. The entrance to the territory of the fortress is free, a wide stone bridge leads us under the arches of a heavy stone arch. It’s worth climbing up to enjoy the view of Savona from its main vantage point. The ancient cannons along the way remind us of the original purpose of the fortress – a city outpost, the first and main barrier against maritime raiders, allowing civilians to live peacefully behind its sturdy walls.

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And in the courtyard hides the archaeological museum and art gallery. Look in the second makes sense only for those who are ardent fans of this type of art. For everyone else, after visiting the Pinakothek, the collection is unlikely to be of any particular interest. But the Archeological Museum seems much more interesting.

Time for relaxation

After enjoying the legacy of ancient culture, it’s time to breathe easy as our walk through Savona’s quaint spots has come to an end. You can either take a seat by the seashore and enjoy a table in a cute little café, or walk a little further to La Tana del Luppolo, voted the best restaurant in town by Tripadvisor’s visitors. To get there, exit at Corso Giuseppe Mazzini and head away from the port. Take a left in Via Buscaglia 5r and when you see a large supermarket on your left you can turn left. If time does not permit, it is better not to go so far and choose a little place for dinner.

The distance covered today is worthy of encouragement – we walked around the historic center of Savona, paying attention to the main attractions of the city. Of course, much was left unnoticed – what’s not an excuse to come back again sometime? Especially since Savona is the base port of Costa Crociere, so it’s often found on the cruise company’s itineraries.

And so, time is of the essence, it’s time to return to the liner. Let’s look around the town with a goodbye look, let’s breathe in the cool of the evening and take with us not only a lot of impressions but also the wonderful atmosphere of Savona, its peaceful and calm grandeur that carries the imprint of history. See you again, Savona!

Where to stay before and after the cruise?

For a stay in the port before the cruise, try Airbnb, where you can rent a full apartment for the price of a hotel room. By registering at our link you will receive a coupon for 2100 rubles for your first stay from 4500 rubles!

If you’re not yet familiar with the service, read about our personal experience with Airbnb.

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