It's good pickings when it comes to interesting places to visit in this part of Europe. In a few hours drive you can be either at the French Cote d'Azur, in the Dolomites, Turin, Milan, Pisa, Florence, practically all of Tuscany or Liguria... so why spend your precious vacation days visiting Genoa instead? Even though in our mind it's crystal clear that Genoa (Genova in Italian) is a great place to visit, we still find that question slightly hard to answer. But we shall try.
At first sight Genoa is not an easy city to like. Nestled in between the Apennine Mountains and Ligurian Sea, it is home to one of the busiest ports in Europe, and that port occupies much of the city's sea front space. Where you would hope to see a city with thousands of years of glorious history showing off precious historical buildings lining a seaside promenade, you instead get industrial scenery featuring cranes and containers.
But there is an entirely different and more charming side to Genoa, which becomes obvious when you head east to its historic center. If you take the Piazza De Ferrari as your starting point and randomly head in any direction, you enter a maze of the famous caruggi (narrow alleys) spread out across what is the largest historical center of Europe.
Sights like the Cristoforo Colombo (natal house of Columbus), San Lorenzo Cathedral, artistocratic residences like the Palazzo Spinola and National Gallery are just some of the historical attractions to check out, while on the more modern front the Acquario di Genova (in the Old Harbour) is Europe's largest aquarium and well worth a visit. Head to the eastern outskirts of town for one of the attractions we personally found the most interesting, the Passeggiate Anita Garibaldi, a narrow path along the rocky coast.
So why visit Genoa? Because, although it may have a more gritty side to it than the obvious Italian hotspots, it is a real Italian city minus the mass tourism. That means good food, good sights, good shopping, no queues and more affordable than average. Plus from here you can take the ferry to Sicily, or explore Cinque Terre. What's not to like? [Review by travelindicator]
You can find the best hotel deals in Genoa here.
- Genoa is a city in Italy's region of Liguria. It has a population of 594,904, is situated at an altitude of 36ft and the best airport to fly into is GOA (Cristoforo Colombo, Genova)
- The main spoken language here is Italian, and the average English skill is intermediate
- Note: Genoa is a good point of entry for trips to Italy as it is well internationally connected (by air)
- The currency used in Italy is the Euro (EUR)
Other cities in the region (Liguria, Italy)
Historical average maximum temperature per month (℉):
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More Genoa travel resources
At Lonely Planet you can get another (similar?) view on the city. Read on at Wikitravel, Planetware, So..why Morocco (?) or Slow Italy. Let's throw in About.com for good order. The theme of these reviews all seems to be similar to ours: Genoa is not an obvious place to go, but is well worth visiting.
Genoa Attractions (Foursquare)
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