Visiting Genoa - What to See and Do

(Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport GOA, Italy)

Genoa stands as north-western Italy's quintessential tourist destination. Blanketed with terracotta roofs, webbed with historical alleyways and sprinkled with dozens of medieval attractions, Genoa basks in its former glory. It began and still thrives as a port city. However, this ancient trade centre has now become a significant industrial cog in the Italian Riviera.

Sightseeing in the city, in particular around the UNESCO-protected Old Town, shouldn't be rushed. Tourists can get a taste of maritime culture along the old port, or ascend into the ancient arteries of the city's medieval belly to find galleries, artisans and palaces from times of yore. When it comes to medieval marvels and classic Italian showcase, Genoa rivals other more fancied cities like Rome and Venice.

Europe's largest aquarium, which sits beside the Mediterranean, proves that Genoa is not just resting on its laurels. Modern sights and fresh developments have ceremoniously crept into the city, including its recently upgraded seaside promenade, the Corso Italia. Couples, backpackers and families will all find something to do while holidaying in this city.

Ten things you must do in Genoa

  • Probably the city's most renowned, non-historical site is the large aquarium that resides alongside the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Built in the early 1990s, this landmark predominantly caters for families, although adults can have plenty of fun here too. Many exhibitions are on show, from the Caribbean tropics to the depths of the North Sea.
  • Complete with a Chinese pagoda, Roman bridge and flower house, the small botanical gardens of Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini are set in a romantic, comfortable and picturesque park. Even though only half of the garden is open to the public, there is enough space for hundreds of visitors at any one time. This is a great place to escape the chaotic old streets of Genoa.
  • Take a stroll along the city's most famous promenade, the Corso Italia. Relax in a seaside restaurant or café, trudge along the boardwalk, take in the sights of the Punta Vagno Lighthouse or swim during the warmer months. The Corso Italia was renovated in the 1990s, but still withholds a stunning, chic ambience.
  • At the heart of the medieval district, the alleyways (caruggi) have become synonymous with sightseeing. Genoa ultimately displays its pride in the past, with many historic artisans operating within the deep and tangled paths of the caruggi-filled Old Town. Exploring this area can take hours, possibly more if tourists find a traditional restaurant or café to sample.
  • Get ready to be inspired by the grandeur of the Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale). Frescoes created by famous Italian artists like Valerio Castello and Agostino Mitelli dominate the walls and ceilings of the palace, and original furniture still dictates the mood within the edifice's interior. Touring this marvellous, 15th-century attraction is a must, but this goes without saying.
  • With artwork by Van Dyck, Gregorio De Ferrari and Mattia Preti all under one roof, it is not surprising that Rosso Palace (Palazzo Rosso) is among Genoa's most respected landmarks. It has become a major gallery on the Genoan art scene. The building itself is a fine example of classic Baroque architecture, deserving its spot along New Street (Strada Nuova) - a UNESCO Heritage-Listed avenue sporting grand, baroque landmarks.
  • Seen by locals as the downtown heart of the city, the Piazza de Ferrari is a large square encompassed by a variety of fascinating structures. In the middle of it all is a sizeable, historic fountain that is perfect for people watching. From here, tourists can explore several phenomenal landmarks, including the Duke of Galliera Palace, the Carlo Felice Theatre and the Palace of the Doges.
  • Embrace classic, Italian art and architecture at the famed Palace of the Doges. Structurally identical since housing the Doges of Genoa in the Middle Ages, this palace is now a remarkable history museum, boasting breathtaking frescoes, significant medieval relics and an elegant interior. Visitors will be awed by the grace and sophistication still radiating from this well-preserved palace.
  • Without question, the Cathedral of St. Lawrence is one of the most sacred and stunning religious structures in northern Italy. The interior columns lining the cathedral's nave and the fresco artwork make for an intriguing site. A treasury museum is found under the church and includes what is believed to be the final chalice used by Jesus Christ at his last supper.
  • Walk the belt of fortification surrounding the city. For centuries, new walls were added to pre-existing ones, leaving behind fortifications from the 12th, 14th, 16th and 18th centuries. Sites like the Porta Soprana gate and Fort Sperone make up this historical feature of Genoa. No other city in the world boasts a wall that compares with the city's fortification belt.

Genoa Airport GOA

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