Genoa, Italy

Genoa may not be as familiar of a name as some of the other large cities in Italy, but that does not mean you should skip over this beautiful area of the Ligurian Riviera! This city nestled between the mountains along the sea is the capital of Liguria and actually the sixth largest city in Italy! It is also one of the largest and oldest seaports in Europe. Not to mention, it is the birthplace of Christopher Colombus. You can even visit his old house!

Genoa prides itself on its traditions and food. One of the best local tastes is the Genovese Pesto. Try that on some local pasta called Trofie and it makes for a delicious meal. You can find it as a basic dish at almost any restaurant. Genoa has a great tradition called Aperitif. This is where you can go to a cafe in the late afternoon before dinner and grab a drink for about 6-7 Euros and get free food! It varies with the cafe, but some places bring you finger food, offer you a buffet, or some places might even bring you an entire pizza! There are some great cafes in particular to check out. Piazza Delle Erbe has a really nice outside atmosphere with good food. Cafe Degli Specchi, which is located on Salita Pollaiuolo, will give you small snacks which could include chips, olives and focaccia. Cafe Douce is located in Piazza Matteotti with plenty of sun and open space to people watch. They will give you a small plate with small amounts of finger food that taste fantastic and make for a good snack. There’s a few options down at the bay alongside the yachts and there’s a nice view of the Ferrari fountain at La Superba. Exultate is known to give you an entire cheese pizza! Even during non aperitif times, this place has some of the best pizza and not a bad atmosphere either as it sometimes has live music from a local group of four men you will see around the city playing traditional Italian music. It adds a great touch to the Italian dining experience. They also frequent the above mentioned Cafe Douce as well. Some places also offer Apericena which is the dinner version. This usually comes with a lot more food and can start around 10 Euros on average.

Throughout the year, you will find several markets or festivals. Food festivals are held every couple of months or so at Porto Antico down at the bay. You can also find markets in Piazza Matteotti usually from Fall to Spring. Sometimes they are filled with olive oils, wines, cheese, sausage and candies. Sometimes its like a flea market where you can find great antiques being sold by locals. Every thursday there is a small market outside of the Opera House across the street from Piazza Ferrari which has a large fountain that sometimes changes color throughout the year.

For a great view of the city, head up to the lookout in Castelletto or check out the waterfall park next to Piazza Corvetto. You can also get some great views of the city from Righi which is a good starting or ending point for a day hike of the forts. You can reach it by car or taking the Funicular ( a neat tram that goes up the hill to the top of Genoa ), then walking up the road. Eventually you will come to a park and your first fort. Behind this are more trails through the hills and mountain tops you can follow. There are quite a few forts like Fratello Minore, Forte Puin, Forte Sperone, Forte Castellaccio, Forte Begato, Forte Tenaglia, Forte Crocetta that you can visit amongst these trails but the most beautiful views are from the peak where you will find Forte Diamante. This so called “Ring of Forts” was the protection for the seaport throughout history. You may even get to see some of the wild horses that have been spotted roaming these areas! If you are into more hiking day trips from Genoa, you have endless options but there are two that really take the cake! First, you can hop on a train for about an hour down to Santa Margherita and walk to Portofino then over to San Fruttuoso and ending the day taking a boat from San Fruttuoso to Camogli and the train back home to Genoa. All of the stops along this trip are amazing! Second, you have the famous Cinque Terre villages less than two hours away by train that you can hike between! These areas are also known for having fantastic beaches and killer views!

Some of the open beaches along this part of the Riviera may charge you up to 14 Euro for day access to the beach and this usually comes with a chair and an umbrella. There are however, some free beaches that you can find a spot to squeeze into or a rock to lay on that can be just as nice.

For a nice half day, take a walk down Corso Italia for about 5 kilometers until you reach the fishing village of Boccadasse. In this tiny adorable seaside town, you can find beautiful water to swim in, delicious gelato to eat and an aperitivo next to the beach with an unbeatable view. This is definitely a Genoa Gem.

You can spend an afternoon roaming the alleyways of Genoa feeling like you have been transported into the past stopping for a gelato, cappuccino or aperol spritz ( an Italian favorite ) in different cafes. There are several museums to learn more about the history of the city. Along Via Garibaldi or San Lorenzo, you will find tourist desks where you can grab a guided tour. One of Genoa’s popular attractions is the aquarium. It’s located in Porto Antico which is the bay. It is one of the largest in Europe and sometimes has dolphin shows.

There are many cathedrals spread throughout Genoa but most notably is the San Lorenzo Cathedral. You have to be covered to enter ( no shorts or tank tops ) but it is free. Most cathedrals require you to be covered but if so, they may have cloths inside to drape over your shoulders. The designs and paintings inside are breathtaking!

Whatever type of day you are looking to have, Genoa is a great starting point as there is something for everyone!


Review by Natalie Snider –