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Genoa, Italy

Genoa (Italian: Genova, Ligurian: Zena) is a historical port city in northern Italy, the capital of the Region of Liguria. Genoa today, as a tourist attraction, is often overshadowed by cities such as Rome or Venice, even though it has a long history as a rich and powerful trade center. However, with its multitude of hidden gems behind cozy alleyways, excellent cuisine (notably fish and seafood), renovated old port, beautiful sights (including one of Europe's biggest aquariums), and its position as the European Capital of Culture in 2004 have made the birthplace of explorer Christopher Columbus an enticing place which is gradually becoming more included in the touristic market. With unusual typical slate-roofed houses, artistic churches, lovely seaside villas, and also several luxurious boutiques, Genoa is a must see if you want to experience the "quintessential" Italy.

Venice, Rome, Milan,... Read more

Genoa, Italy


Genoa (Italian: Genova, Ligurian: Zena) is a historical port city in northern Italy, the capital of the Region of Liguria. Genoa today, as a tourist attraction, is often overshadowed by cities such as Rome or Venice, even though it has a long history as a rich and powerful trade center. However, with its multitude of hidden gems behind cozy alleyways, excellent cuisine (notably fish and seafood), renovated old port, beautiful sights (including one of Europe's biggest aquariums), and its position as the European Capital of Culture in 2004 have made the birthplace of explorer Christopher Columbus an enticing place which is gradually becoming more included in the touristic market. With unusual typical slate-roofed houses, artistic churches, lovely seaside villas, and also several luxurious boutiques, Genoa is a must see if you want to experience the "quintessential" Italy.

Venice, Rome, Milan, and Florence are of course the most known and admired towns in Italy. When moving to north-western Italy (Milan, Turin) it is nevertheless absolutely worth visiting Genoa. The city is a good base to explore the Italian Riviera and world famous places like Portofino and the Cinque Terre.

Paolo Coelho wrote: "Among the marvels of Italy, it will take some digging to find the beauties of Genova, but it is worth visiting it. I remember walking there with a friend when she suddenly said: “Let’s stop for a bit. I can’t stand this orange color!”." The fact is the more you stay the more you will enjoy and appreciate the town. A place where you discover daily new surprises, even if you stay for years.

The city may be less known by major tourist operators, but its splendor is often hidden inside the narrow streets of the historical center, called "vicoli."

Genoa is a sort of decayed glorious port town, whose decay, however, is what makes it so interesting and pretty. The façades of grand palaces are hidden in scruffy, yet enticing alleyways, and there are really curious treats for anyone in virtually every alley. The city is your "typical" Italian one - quite sunny (during summer), with Mediterranean-looking houses topped by slate roofs, filled to the brim with outdoor cafes and bars, with lots of tiny and quirky alleyways, elegant designer shops, and restaurants. Today, also, the old port has been renovated, and currently contains some funky avant-garde modern architecture, a delightful marina, and several seaside bars and shops.

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Genoa, Italy: Port Information

Several cruise and ferry lines serve the passenger terminals in the old port.
The quays of the passenger terminals extend over an area of 250,000 square metres (2,700,000 square feet), with 5 equipped berths for cruise vessels and 13 for ferries, for an annual capacity of 4 million ferry passengers, 1.5 million cars and 250,000 trucks.
The historical maritime station of Ponte dei Mille is today a technologically advanced cruise terminal, with facilities designed after the world's most modern airports, to ensure fast embarking and disembarking of latest generation ships carrying thousand passengers. A third cruise terminal is currently under construction in the redesigned area of Ponte Parodi, once a quay used for grain traffic.

Get around Genoa, Italy

Locals will say driving around the city is somewhat faster than public transportation (traffic jams at rush hours notwithstanding), but once you have reached your destination you are faced with the nightmare and frustration of looking for a non-existent parking spot. It is not just chance that most locals switched from cars to scooters - to the extent that even finding a spot for a scooter has become difficult too. All attractions within the center are in walking distance or well served by public transportation, therefore a car is of no use at all. If you still decide to drive into the city, don't bet on available street parking (there are street parking fees anyway) go directly to a parking garage and hope not all of them are full. If you think of driving to the beach on a sunny weekend day within Genoa or in another town along the coast, forget it. Finding a parking spot in walking distance to your beach is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Use public transit instead.

Public transportation will probably be your best bet within the city. The bus network is operated by AMT and services the whole city until 1 AM at night. Be sure to check routes and timetables you need because the system can be somewhat confusing, e.g. some routes only travel at certain times and are replaced by other similar ones with different numbers at those times. There is also an underground line connecting the main square,

Piazza De Ferrari

, with the northwestern neighborhood of Rivarolo, serving the historical center, the Porto Antico touristic area, the Stazione Principe main train station and the ferry terminal at Dinegro along the route. As is common in Italy, tickets are not sold on board (except at night or on Sundays, then at an increased price); you need to buy your ticket before boarding the bus at a newspaper kiosk or a tobacconist's or an underground station, and validate it at a punching machine once you have boarded the bus.

There are also a number of public elevators and cable railways connecting the center with the neighborhoods on the surrounding hills. The upper stations of the Ascensore di Castelletto elevator and of the Funicolare del righi railway offer an astonishing view of the city.

Trenitalia suburban and regional trains travel in an east-west direction along the coast connecting all the coastal neighborhoods/suburbs with the city center. This is the most convenient means of transportation if you plan to see some peripheral districts or towns along the coastline. AMT tickets and passes are valid on Trenitalia trains within the city limits (Voltri and Nervi); single tickets only allow one train ride, and you will need to validate them again at the yellow punching machines at the stations - check for the correct validating space with the name "Trenitalia" on the back side of the ticket. If you are traveling outside the city limits to visit some outer towns, you will have to buy a ticket at a Trenitalia counter or machine. It is advisable to buy return tickets right away because there are usually no ticket counters at minor stations and chances are good that the ticket machines there won't work, turning to buy a ticket (or discussing with the conductor on the return train) into a hassle.

The historic center of Genoa is serviced by bus only around some important squares and streets (Piazza Acquaverde for Stazione di Piazza Principe, Piazza della Nunziata, Largo Zecca, Piazza Corvetto, Piazza Caricamento). Its caruggi alleys are so narrow that no vehicular traffic is physically possible, and they have to be visited on foot - distances are definitely not huge anyway.

AMT also operates a public boat service called Navebus connecting the Porto Antico to Pegli. It is a great and cheap way to have a look at the city from the sea; once in Pegli, you can pay a visit to the Villa Pallavicini public park.

Private boat services start from the Porto Antico and travel along the coast to Camogli, San Fruttuoso,


, Chiavari and the Cinqueterre.


What to see in Genoa, Italy

There is so much to see in Genoa.


  • The


     - The second biggest in Europe!
  • The Sea Museum and the Naval Museum
  • D’Albertis Castle Museum of World Cultures
  • Museum of Modern Art - Wolfson
  • Museum of Modern Art - Villa Croce
  • Museums of Fine Arts - Strada Nuova - Palazzo Bianco (White Palace) 2 and Palazzo Rosso (Red Palace) 3
  • Chiossone Museum of Oriental Art. The biggest European collection of oriental art.
  • Doria Museum of Natural History.
  • The Cathedral Museum.
  • Museum of St. Augustine. A convent displaying various medieval works of art.
  • Ligurian Archeological Museum.
  • Luxoro Museum. A private collection which houses various works of art and furniture.
  • Raccolte Frugone. The Nervi's former private art collection.
  • Wolfsoniana. A museum of modern applied arts.
  • Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace). Owns a historical picture gallery.
  • National Ligurian Gallery at the Spinola Palace.
  • Museum of the Ligurian Art Academy.
  • Museum at the Prince's Palace. Another Genovese historical art collection.
  • Ippolito National Ligurian Museum.
  • The Cathedral of San Lorenzo
  • Palazzi dei rolli. The present on World Heritage List of UNESCO
  • The historical center
  • Santa Maria di Castello. The cloister of the domenican order, the museum and the summer cathedral offer a lot of treasures and exploring them is free during the opening hours of the church

Genoa is known to have Europe’s biggest historical center. This is the heart of the old city. It’s made up of an incredible amount of tiny streets and alleys called Caruggi. Walking through it will plump you right back in ancient times when Genoa was the most important harbor of the Mediterranean sea. The city is generally safe, but caution is to be applied, especially at night time and in the more quiet zones toward Piazza Principe and the old harbor, due to the presence of small criminality.

  • The house of Cristoforo Colombo. In piazza Dante you will find the house where Columbus lived as a child;
  • The impressive fortification belt built on the hills surrounding the city, originating in the 16th Century 4;
  • There is a funicular railway servicing Monte Righi, where one can have pleasant walks on the surrounding hills and to the fortifications (see above), or just admire the spectacular view of the city and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Spianata Castelletto is a nice belvedere where one can have a pleasant view of the city and of the seaport. It can be reached by public lift from Piazza della Nunziata or on foot from that very same square.
  • Via Garibaldi (also known as Via Aurea and Strada Nuova, Golden Street and New Street) with very impressive baroque buildings. Some similar buildings are also found in Via Balbi.
  • The Old Harbour (Porto Antico), next to the Aquarium, is an entertainment area with museums, cinemas, cafés and also a beautiful promenade along the sea.
  • Lanterna di Genova, Access through Lanterna pedestrian promenade (800m) starting near the ferry terminal in Via Milano (100m from bus stops; 400m from "Dinegro" subway station; 1.5 km from Principe train station; 1.5 km from "Genova Ovest" highway exit), ☎ +39 349 2809485, e-mail: Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 pm - 6:30 pm (last access: 6:00 pm). The prominent Genovese symbol since 1128: the second tallest traditional lighthouse in the world.
  • Palazzo Ducale - Where the Dukes of Genoa used to live.

What to do in Genoa, Italy

There are plenty of things to do in Genoa, although it is VERY advisable to visit in spring and summer. A lot of young kids spend their time playing with their friends in Parks found within certain antique Villas, some of them are also museums (i.e. Villa di Negro- Oriental Arts museum Edoardo Chiossone). Go for Ice Cream along the beaches and beach promenades. There are a lot of paintings in the town and on the brick floors which a lot of people admire. Fishing for catfish is also a hobby you might enjoy.

Via XX (venti) Settembre - Via San Vincenzo

Genoa's main street Via XX settembre, is filled with cafes and high street fashion shops. Start from Brignole station and head towards Piazza De Ferrari. Via San Vincenzo, another popular shopping destination, runs parallel to Via Venti (as the Genoese call it) from Brignole.

De Ferrari - San Lorenzo/ Centro Storico

De Ferrari square lies in the heart of the city, surrounded by the Carlo Felice theatre, and Palazzo Ducale. Head towards Via San Lorenzo and get lost inside the Centro Storico. A bustling net of alleyways that gains its character from being close to the port and as such is a melting pot of cultures. You can breathe the Sea air and the port of a once strong maritime republic. It is full of bars, shops, antique barbers (va canneto il lungo), butchers and restaurants. Get Lost! (though you might want to take a map because you could get lost)

On Friday and Saturday nights, these alleyways fill up with people, excellent for bar crawling and living the night. Find its many chupiterias, to get specialty shots or find smaller more rustic birrerias. Occasionally you can find live bands on the streets or in many of the bars, especially by Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza Luzzati.

Passeggiata Lungo mare Corso Italia - Boccadasse, santa chiara

Take a walk along Corso Italia on a sunny day, this promenade along the sea is a must for the outdoor season. Suited for runners, roller blades, it also has a skate park, Giardini Govi, along its way. Just head south from Brignole Bus Station, along Viale Bisagno Brigate and then turn left, there the promenade begins. At the end of Corso Italia, there is a church and going down towards the sea you reach Bocadasse, a small beach surrounded by ice cream shops, little boutiques, and restaurants, with terraces over the sea. Adventure yourself along the "creuzäs", (small alley) ways to discover its villas and hidden coves.

Monte Righi - Castello Sperone

Genoa is surrounded by hills, which have fortresses built under Napoleonic rule, to defend the city. You can reach this summit of the hill Righi by taking the funicular at Largo Zecca. From then on you may walk along the woods and access a birds-eye view of the city and its port. Its quite a walk, but well worth it.

Parco di Nervi

Nervi is the last neighborhood heading towards levante (east), get here quickly by taking bus number 15 or one of the frequent trains. Here lies an immense park that lies just above cliffs on the sea. It has a sea level promenade and another part of the park which extend towards the hills. There are a few small lakes hidden within the park.

What to eat and drink in Genoa, Italy

The vast majority of places charges service for a fixed amount per person (called coperto), as is a custom in Italy. A trattoria, cafe or bar will not charge this fee for lunch, and this is often a good place to get pasta or a sandwich in the afternoon. Restaurants are open from approximately 12:30 - 3 PM for lunch and 7:30 - 10 PM for dinner.


  • Pasta e Birra Take It Easy, Piazza Ferretto 10 rosso (Close to Magistrato Di Misericordia Church and the Genova Cathedral). Great, fresh pasta on a budget. Try the regional 'trofie with pesto sauce'. No reservation.
  • Trattoria Da Maria, Vico Testadoro 14 (close to Piazza de Ferrari), ☎ +39 010 581080. Traditional regional cuisine and a practical and crowded atmosphere. Possible opening for lunch only, no reservation.
  • Osteria La Lanterna, Via San Siro 12R (close to Via San Luca and Museo del Risorgimento), ☎ +39 010 2461608. This restaurant offers mainly fish dishes.
  • Trattoria Sa Pesta, Via Giustiniani 16r (in the old town), ☎ +39 010 2468336. This restaurant offers traditional regional cuisine.


  • Le Colonne di San Bernardo, Via San Bernardo 59r, ☎ +39 010-2462646. 8 PM - 10 PM. Fish and meat specialties with limited choice, but high quality and a selection of excellent wines. All prepared with great care. Sweets represent a wonderful surprise, not to miss.
  • Ombre Rosse, Vico Indoratori 20-22-24 r, ☎ +39 010 2757608, +39 347 4280698. Lunch, Dinner. Quality Genovese typical food, like pansotti, vegetable cakes, baccala, lepre, brasato.
  • La Berlocca, via ai Macelli di Soziglia 45r, ☎ +39 010 4075555. Lunch, Dinner. Fish & meat of great quality. Excellent choice of wines.
  • Sä Pesta, via dei Giustiniani 16r. Only the best of Genoese food. This antique restaurant has been serving port workers and nobility alike for the past couple of centuries. Great for torte and farinata.


  • Grace Restaurant. the cuisine, linked to the territory, combines the flavors and aromas of Liguria with the pleasures of traditional international cuisine and is entrusted to the expert hands of Chef Salvatore Di Carlo.
  • Ristorante Zeffirino. Allegedly one of Frank Sinatra's favorite restaurants (apparently he had them send him regular supplies of their pesto), Zeffirino is one of Genoa's gems. Hidden up a long flight of steps just off Via XX Settembre in the heart of Genoa, it can a little hard to find but well worth it. Stunning food, truly excellent service and a beautifully appointed dining room make for a memorable lunch or dinner.


  • Pesto sauce originates from the city of Genova. It is used in many dishes, including pastas and pizzas. You can always order from the huge variety of pastas and pizzas available here, but trying the one which is based on Pesto is a must to experience the traditional Genovese cuisine.
  • Another must-try from the Genovese or Ligurian cuisine is the focaccia, which essentially is a flat oven-baked Italian bread, which may be topped with onions, herbs, or other foodstuffs. They are quite tasty and often cheaper than pizzas. There are many 'Focaccerias' scattered throughout Genova and its surroundings. These are basically take away places, and easy on the wallet, too. In many of the focaccerias, you will find improvised varieties of focaccias, but usually, the best tasting ones come with only tomatoes or onions and a bit of olive oil. The original "focaccia" is simply topped with olive oil, salt and a little bit of white wine
  • Don't miss to try the farinata, a thin crusty pie made with chick-peas flour, water, salt, and olive oil.


  • Piazza delle Erbe: small square in the old town, with nice bars (5 min. walking from Piazza De Ferrari and Palazzo Ducale) open until 1 AM. On Fridays and Saturdays, it is crowded with young people.
  • Riviera hotel Pl

Area of Porto Antico. Down of piazza Caricamento and close to the Bigo there is a float restaurant with the nose of it being a night bar, with sometimes offering live music. Wide wood chairs to relax and see the sea in the summer.

Shopping in Genoa, Italy

Genoa is great for shopping. You have the designer boutiques, department stores, food shops, and antique dealers.

Downtown, for those who want luxury boutique browsing, you can find some world class fashion-related shopping along Via XX Settembre, starting from Piazza Ferrari.

There are a lot of small, picturesque and tourism-related shops in the center. These are mainly in the central squares and the small alleyways. You can find souvenir stalls, kiosks selling books and snacks, sailor-themed stalls, traditional flea markets, modern and antique furniture dealers, little bookstores and tiny art galleries.

There is a large shopping center called Fiumara located near Genova Sampierdarena train station. To reach Fiumara, take a local train to Genova Sampierdarena station and exit the station. Turn left and go under a bridge, near which there is a sign to the left for Fiumara. The shopping center is visible from the other side of the bridge and is about 10 minutes walk. The mall can also be reached by car or bus routes 1, 2, 4 and 22. The mall is open from 9 AM-9 PM Monday - Sunday. Nearby there is a theater and activity center which includes a pool hall, bowling alley, and restaurants.

Safety in Genoa, Italy

Streets in Genoa are usually quite safe, especially in the main tourist areas and residential areas. Downtown, Quarto dei Mille, Quinto del Mare and Nervi are all safe districts during the day as well as the evening.

However, some limited areas in the historical center off the main alleys might be subject to petty crime or just be uncomfortable for the general tourist (e.g. prostitutes waiting for clients in the middle of the day in dark side alleys just a couple of blocks away from a touristic attraction). Especially north of Piazza Caricamento/via Banchi/via Luccoli, around the Via Pré and in the Stazione Principe area, it is advisable to exercise extra caution and follow your common sense, e.g. avoid walking into narrower, darker, deserted alleys off the main paths unless you know where you are going. Pay special attention to your surroundings, avoid displaying flashy items and do not carry large amounts of cash or valuables.

Muggings or violence towards tourists are practically unheard of, however deft pickpockets are not seldom. Be particularly careful in the via San Lorenzo/via San Bernardo/via San Donato area (which is a popular and very crowded nightlife zone for students and young people) and also on city buses.

When walking, you should not expect motorists (especially scooters and bikers) to be particularly disciplined. At unsignalized crosswalks, you might need to insist on your right of way by just starting to cross the road (with caution!), as Italian pedestrians normally do, rather than waiting for motorists to stop. If a car, van or truck has stopped to let you cross, be very careful and always assume there might be a scooter passing that vehicle at high speed without seeing you.

Virtually all beaches in Genoa and surroundings are made of cobbles, rocks, and cliffs. The sea floor is normally very steep and you won't be able to touch the ground just some meters away from the shore, hence beware if your swimming skills are not good. When bathing, be extremely cautious as stones under water are mostly covered with vegetation and very slippery. Avoid bathing at all if the sea is not calm: waves that may seem innocent from the shore might be strong enough to turn getting out of the sea into a quite dangerous and scary undertaking, running the risk of being smashed into the shore or into a rock (that you perhaps don't see because it's under water). There is normally no lifeguard service on free public beaches.

Language spoken in Genoa, Italy

The Genoese dialect (Zeneize) is the most important dialect of the Ligurian language and is commonly spoken in Genoa alongside Italian. Ligurian is listed by Ethnologue as a language in its own right, of the Romance branch, the Ligurian Romance language, and not to be confused with the ancient Ligurian language. Like the languages of Lombardy, Piedmont, and surrounding regions, it is of Gallo-Italic derivation.


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