When I heard of TBE conference that took place in Genoa in October 2012, I said yes straight away. Not only because I could see some of my blogging friends there again, meet new ones and learn something, but also because I had not visited the city ever before.
I quickly found out that Genoa was more than just a port and capital in Liguria. Genoa is both the sixth biggest city in Italy and the biggest seaport in Italy.
From my Italian friend I heard that he didn’t really like Genoa as it is a dirty city in comparison with some other Italian cities. I didn’t notice that much rubbish on the streets or maybe I am just used to visit ports pretty often and big ports always bring a bit of smell and dirtiness.
To be honest with you I didn’t have big expectations and I even didn’t check online nor asked anyone about the unmissable sposts of Genoa like I usually do. Only once I got to my B&B, the owner took a map and showed me what to visit. And for my huge surprise, a day running around Genoa was not enough to see everything i would like to.
things to do in Genoa:
1. palaces – simply said, Genoa is the city of palaces. They are just everywhere you look. Imposant colourful buildings mostly from Renaissance are here in abundance. Via Garibaldi, being UNESCO World Heritage site since 2006, is the street with the majority of them, such as Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco or Palazzo Reale. Some of them are museums now, some administrative buildings, in some you could find even apartments. Palazzo della Meridiana, Palazzo Ducale, Palazzo del Principe or the Palace of St. George in the port are worth a visit too. Of palaces offer their visitors as well gardens and parks.
The Palace of St. George in Genoa port
2. churches – as in any other Italian city, a big amount of beautiful churches is scatered around. Definitely the most stunning one is San Lorenzo cathedral built in the Romanesque-Renaissance style in the 17th century. Its walls are difficult to describe by words. San Donato church or Santo Stefano church and a few basilicas are in Genoa too. Be prepared to see a little church in many tiny streets.
San Lorenzo cathedral
inside San Lorenzo cathedral
3. squares – Piazza de Ferrari is the biggest one of them and forms part of one of the widest European historic centres. Opera, a modern fountain, Christopher Columbus born place (it is said he was born in one of the houses at the square) and Palazzo Ducale are the main icons of the square. San Matteo square is also very nice to visit.
Piazza de Ferrari
4. Acquario di Genova – is home to around 15,000 animals. My favorite parts of the aquarium were seals, dolphins, sharks, sweet penguins (reminded me of my day with Magellanic penguins in Punta Tombo in Argentina) and jellyfish. The pecularity of the Genoa Aquarium is Antarctic fish which cannot be found in any other European city. The aquarium was also one of top 10 most appreciated attractions in Europe in 2011 according to Tripadvisor and no doubt! You can watch dolphins, seals and manatees to get fed or examined by doctors.
sharks in the Acquario di Genova
Magellanic penguins in the aquarium
a dolphin playing
5. Il Bigo elevator – one of the most known landmarks of Genoa. That ”odd” white construction in the port just next to hundreds of little boats and yachts is the elevator Il Bigo. It will take you a bit higher for a few minutes to get the views of the port,carrugi (Genovese alleys) and Genoa city including palace roofs, all from a different perspective. The cabin of the panoramic lift rotates and the panels inside will explain you the names of all the important attractions and buildings in Genoa in 4 languages.
Il Bigo elevator
view from Il Bigo
6. Biosfera – just outside of the Acquario. Yes, that huge glass and steel ball in the port is Biosfera – a humid tropical garden with tropical plans and animals. I did not expect to see red eye-catching Scarlet Ibis birds that live in the South America and the Caribbean flying above my head in Genoa.
Biosfera in Genoa
Scarlet Ibis bird in Biosfera
7. Galata Museo del Mare – if you love museums and sea, then this is the place for you! Four levels make the biggest maritime museum in the Mediterranean. This museum was so much fun! You can hop onboard a ”real” Nazario Sauro submarine and see how the life was in there or even get a ”false passport” of an Italian migrant and do what they tell you in the different rooms of the museum to find out in the end if you would be admitted into one of the migrating countries (the USA, Argentina or Brazil). You can even ride a submarine in Galata Museum.
in Galata Museo del Mare
in the Nazario Sauro submarine
8. Old Harbour – porto antico is the ancient port of Genoa that now attracts millions of visitors. All the landmarks of Genoa, such as Acquarium, Galata Museum, Il Bigo or Biosfera make it interesting along the port. Add boats, a huge replica of an old ship and seagulls and you have a perfect place for a walk on a sunny day.
old ship replica in Genoa old harbour
9. Piazza Castelletto – a quartier of Genoa. If you liked Il Bigo views and you still have time, then take a lift dating back from 1909 that goes from Piazza Portello to Piazza Castelletto. Castelletto is situated on one of many hills of Genoa which gives you the opportunity to see the whole city after just a 2-minute lift.
10. Nervi – I didn’t have time to visit the former fishing village 33 km from Genoa but heard that it offers monumental coast views when taking a walk along Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi. Nine hectares of gardens and parks add to its beauty. It is easy to get there by bus.
Have you visited Genoa? What do you think should be the main things to do in Genoa?