Genoa, Italy, not to be mistaken for Geneva, Switzerland, is one of Italy’s most underrated cities with a lot to offer intrepid travellers keen to step away from over-trodden stops in Rome, Florence or Milan.
Indeed, Genoa, the home of so many seamen, merchants, bankers, explorers and prostitutes, has gathered many rich layers of history, that is to this day, largely “unsanitised” by tourism. With the unruly maze-like streets found in the Centro Storico (the historic centre), one requirement of discovering this city is to simply get lost in it. Forget time, disable your GPS, and just walk around the tangled alleys to discover the amazing regional food and creative talents scattered about the medieval old city centre. Genoa offers a diverse variety of experiences that makes it a very good base to explore the Italian Riviera. The following parts of this Genoa blog series, I will present to you seven most delectable highlights of Genoa:
- Foodie paradise (The Food)
The Genoese do seafood and street food astonishingly well, and one should not miss out on pesto with trofie (basil and pine nut sauce), focaccia (ligurian flatbread), farinata (chickpea pancake) and fritta mista (mixed seafood fritters), to name just a few examples. Less known but local classics are cappon magro (seafood salad), or fish-filled ravioli. In addition to the traditional regional food, the young Genoese are coming up with new combinations of food that reflect their openness to other cultures.
- Aperitivo hour (The Lifestyle)
Sit back and wind down after a day of hard work or exploration, with a glass of spritz in one hand, and a friend by your side at the Piazza delle Erbe or Boccadasse. The Italians clink their glasses by saying “cin cin!”
Note: The drinks come with food!
- World Heritage Site (The History)
Much of the historic centre of Genoa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which makes Genoa a little like an open-air history museum. The Strada Nuove is a group of streets built by Genoese aristocracy during the 1500s and is lined with the palatial homes of these aristocracies. The Palazzi dei Rolli is a list from the 1500s and 1600s of palatial private palaces and residences in Genoa where notable guests of the Republic would be hosted. Today, many of these buildings can be easily accessed by the public.
- Creative Genoa (The thriving creativity)
Genoa is currently a thriving hotbed of independent artists and artisans. Just walk the streets and one can easily find graphic artists, shoemakers, fashion designers and printmakers. If you like art and design, there are also museums to explore art, photography, history, etc.
- A City for All Seasons
In general, Genoa has mild weather, making it pleasant for exploration all year round. Throughout the year, there is a stream of activity which ensures you get to enjoy seeing the Genoese in their element. Genoa’s tourist website provides up to date information on events for the season. (link: http://www.visitgenoa.it/en/eventi)
- Explore Genoa by bus, boat, bike, funicular, elevators rail and on foot! (The public transport)
There are parts of Genoa that are hilly, and it is most fun to jump on a bus that winds up the hills, affording a good view of the city. Within the city centre, there is a system of funiculars and elevators in which one can climb higher in a convenient and breath-taking way.
- The perfect base to explore the Italian Riviera
Just a short day trip away are scenic Ligurian cities and ports. The famous ones include Portofino and Cinque Terre. I’m letting you in on an open secret: there’s also Sori, Rapallo, San Fruttuoso, Santa Margherita, Sestri Levante on the east of Genoa. On the west of Genoa are Savona, Noli, Varigotti, Finale Ligure. However – this is not an exhaustive list.
On a warm day, it is also highly recommended to spend a day at the beach like any proper Ligurian.
And of course, Genoa (or Genova, as we say in Italian), is so much more than this, but you’ll definitely figure this out when you get here.
About our guest blogger: Kathleen was born and bred in Singapore, but has lived in various countries in Asia, Europe and Oceania (not necessarily in that order) in the last 20 years. Today, she is based in Singapore and shares an Instagram account (@hellokatkin) with her 1-year-old daughter nicknamed Katkin. Together they go on little adventures to discover the world together.