Genoa Travel Guide
Introduction to Genoa
Though it often gets overlooked by time-stressed tourists in favor of Rome and Venice, Genoa has played a huge role in the history of Italy.
Home to merchants and explorers (including Christopher Columbus), the streets are lined with grand mansions and palaces, which only testify to its past power.
With a cuisine that is locally famous, one of the tallest lighthouses in the world, and a lack of crowds compared to more popular Italian cities in high season, Genoa should definitely find its way onto your travel itinerary.
Cultural Experiences in Genoa
Start your tour of this historical port city by checking out the Genoa Cathedral. Built in either the 5th or 6th century, this structure has been a landmark in the centre of Genoa for countless generations.
The church has been repaired and renovated frequently over the years though, and escaped serious damage in the Second World War after a shell that hit it failed to detonate (the secured and neutralized warhead is still on display).
Be sure to look up to catch a number of amazing frescoes, which include Martyrdom of St Lawrence by Lazzaro Tavarone and Assumption of the Virgin by Gaetano Previati.
There are many palaces in Genoa, which bear witness to its days as a centre of finance and trade in Italy. If you only have time for one, be sure to carve time out of your schedule for Palazzo Bianco.
Known by locals to be one of the best art galleries in the city, it has treated them to some of the better works in Europe since 1884. It has painting from the 12th to the 17th centuries in its collection, which includes the likes of Peter Paul Reubens and Anthony Van Dyck.
Being a vital port city in Italy throughout the Renaissance age, the Lighthouse of Genoa became a beacon that not only ensured the safety of shipping interests, but welcomed home weary traders and explorers.
This light is huge, even by modern standards; made exclusively of brick, it stands 250 feet high, making it the fifth tallest lighthouse on Earth, and second tallest that is not built of modern building materials.
The rock it is constructed upon gives it additional prominence: if you measure from the water’s edge, the light is actually 383 feet above sea level.
There is a museum adjacent to the lighthouse that catalogs its history, so be sure to check it out before leaving the area.
Other Attractions in Genoa
If you have a surplus of time to see some of Genoa’s beautiful buildings, then spending the better part of a day walking the length of Via Garibaldi will be very productive for you.
Inscribed in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites for its dense concentration of palaces and other structures consisting of well-preserved Italian architecture, it contains a number of art galleries, headquarters for banks like Deutsche Bank, and fine restaurants. Be sure to check out Palazzo Rosso, which contains an eclectic collection of portrait art.
Looking for an atmospheric place to sit down while you watch Genoese citizens go about their daily business?
Piazza De Ferrari is the best place to chill, as it is made by a spectacular fountain at its centre that serves to attract people on their lunch break, as numerous banks and offices are located within a stone’s throw of this square.
If you’re looking for a bit of culture come evening time, Teatro Carlo Felice, Genoa’s opera house, is located on the edge of Piazza De Ferrari.
If you are traveling with a young family, or are beset by some especially inclement weather, a good spot to keep in your back pocket is the Aquarium of Genoa. Ranking as the biggest aquarium in Italy and among the biggest in Europe, this popular attraction was originally built for Expo 92.
Drawing 1.2 million visitors per year with its theme around the voyage of discovery that Christopher Columbus took in 1492 that ended with him finding the New World.
Tanks that detail the ecosystem of the Ligurian Sea (the portion of the Mediterranean between Genoa and Corsica), North Atlantic and the Caribbean can be found here, making for a great afternoon of learning for all involved.