Best reasons to visit Genoa

Genoa is a city beyond ordinary: there are plenty of reasons to visit ‘La Superba’.

The history of ‘La Superba’ has always been linked to trade and seamanship; Genoa had been the capital of the Republic of Genoa for over 8 centuries and thus named  La Superba and La Dominante.

The abundance of history, art, literature, music — the so—called Scuola Genovese or Genoese Cultural Movement  — and cuisine earned it the designation of European Capital of Culture in 2004, while its Strade Nuove and Palazzi dei Rolli have been a Unesco World Heritage site since 2006.

The Old Town
of Genoa

The legend goes that Genoa exhibits the largest historical centre in Europe; it stretches from the  eastern elegant neighbourhood of Carignano to the eastern Principe Raiway Station on the west.

It features an ever-ending series of cobblestone streets, corners and alleys (the so-called ‘carruggi’) along and beyond the waterfront.

Walking the ‘carruggi’ would mean colliding with breathtaking views, picturesque little squares, ancient gates, portals, votive shrines, old fashioned shops and night clubs for the young and old alike.

It is almost entirely a pedestrian area, with the exclusion of just a few important streets, such as Via San Lorenzo, which is made suitable for Taxis, Police Forces, or authorized vehicles: it is therefore strongly recommendable to visit the Old Town by foot.

The Fortifications
of Genoa

Over different centuries, the Republic of Genoa had developed an extraordinary array of defensive systems from the Middle Ages through to the Napoleonic era, the ‘Risorgimento’ (the 19th-century movement for Italian unification that culminated in the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861) and the two World Wars.

The 17th and 18th centuries fortifications form a semicircle above the city and represent the longest city walls in Europe, only second to the Great Wall of China. Most of them are still visible as well as open to the public.

The Monumental Cemetery
of Staglieno

The Cimitero Monumentale Di Staglieno is located in the Bisagno Valley and it is the largest burial site in Genoa, as well as one of the most impressive and therefore visited cemeteries in Europe. Many Ligurians, as well as illustrious international characters have found their final home on this hill beyong the district of Staglieno.

Thanks  to the grandeur of its tombs and monuments, it is considered as an actual outdoor museum.

Its lifelike marble statues and mourning chapels were ideated and sculpted by local masters belonging to different architectural styles, creating a must-see destination not only for the curious tourist, but also for professional and amateur photographers .

Le botteghe storiche
di Genova

Counting with at least 70 years of activity, these shops must possess a minimum of three —  out of five — of the following elements to be declared as Botteghe Storiche by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities: architecture, decoration/furniture, equipment, documents and historical environment. These places, where time seems to have stopped, are really worth a visit.

The Salone Nautico
Genoa International Boat Show

A world-renowned exhibition of recreational boats, it has been taking place every year in October since 1962, and it is considered as the most important boat exposition in the Mediterranean area.

The Aquarium
of Genoa

No doubt about it: The ‘Acquario di Genova’ is the largest exhibition of biodiversity and ecosystems in Europe; it lies in front of the Old Town and it’s included in its waterfront: what the Genoese call the Porto Antico or, oldfashionedly, Expo. It shows an unbelievable variety of pavilions. Be ready to invest at least 2 and ½ hours to get through all of them : 70 indoor and 4 outdoor tanks, which cover a surface of 27000 m2..

You will discover 15.000 specimens belonging to 400 animal species: not only fish, but also maritime mammals, birds, amphibians, invertebrates living in true-to-original environments.

The four tanks welcome manatees, sharks of different sizes, seals and penguins. What’s inside the Cetacean Pavilion? Get a clear view of dolphins either from above, through a glass wall, or from an underwater point of view, through a 15-meter long  glass tunnel or the 20-meter great acrylic.

Twice a day at prefixed times, gaze in wonder at the staff feeding the dolphins and telling curiosities and anecdotes about the mammals and their daily life at the aquarium!

Two children-targeted scenarios called ‘Avventura Acquario’ and ‘Acquario Segreto’ will allow the kids to discover the behind-the-curtains activities and secret areas of the aquarium.

Once a month, the aquarium allows ‘A night with Sharks’: up to 35 kids aged between 7 and 13 will be allowed to sleep safely in front of the dangerous fish, enjoying the company of sharks all night long.

The cucina tipica
Genoa’s traditional cuisine

Genoese and Ligurian cuisines resemble our soul: strong, generous – somewhat cold –  but always true.

Our meals start off with some little snacks: focaccia or focaccia alle cipolle (‘focaccia’ is a flat, oily bread sometimes flavoured with onions or rosemary) and then, we are already drooling over  some oven-baked wonders such as the farinata (a typical , slightly crispy flatbread made with chickpea flour and flavoured with spring onions, artichokes, sausages or ‘gorgonzola’ blue cheese). As a primo – main course – let’s dive into different nuances and shapes of pasta: mouth-watering meat or veggie ravioli, pansoti with walnut sauce (in Genoese dialect: pansöti co-a sarsa de noxe), mandilli de saea al pesto (hand-made lasagna with pesto).

As a secondo, two plates must be experienced: cappon magro (it is a pyramid-salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, bottarga, and dried tuna dressed with olive oil on a layer of hard tack biscuits  or ‘gallette’ rubbed with garlic and soaked in seawater and vinegar) and cima alla genovese’, a true example of cucina povera – a poor man’s dish. It is a cow’s udder stuffed with ham, eggs, vegetables, pine nuts and cheese.

As a side dish, bite into our grandma’s torte salate or savory pies: onion pie, rice pie, or the most traditional torta pasqualina – an Easter pie filled with spring green such as artichokes or chard leaves.

For dessert, treat yourself to a torta di Dria or Panarellina accompanied by our land’s most famous white wines: Pigato or Vermentino.

And finally, a digestive liquor such as the Amaro Camatti!

Via Garibaldi
or Strada Nuova

Via Garibaldi features an extreme variety of Noble Palaces such as Palazzo Tursi – our Town Hall –  Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco, Palazzo Campanella, Palazzo Cattaneo Adorno, Palazzo Podestà, Palazzo Gio Battista Spinola, Palazzo Angelo Giovanni Spinola, Palazzo Carrega Cataldi, Palazzo Lercari Parodi, Palazzo Pantaleo Spinola, Palazzo Pallavicini Cambiaso. The street itself and the ‘Sistema dei Palazzi dei Rolli’ were declared UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2006.

The Doge’s

This palace, which once hosted the leaders of the city, the dogi, lies on the central Piazza Raffaele De Ferrari for one side and on the Old Town for the others; it is just a few minutes’ walk from our B&B ‘Genova Centro; it hosts significant exhibitions – at times different and simultaneously — and is accessible for Italian and foreigners that wish to explore it; at the present time, what used to be the home office of the Doge della Repubblica is considered as one of the principal landmarks and museums of Genoa.

Il Porto Antico
The Old Harbour Marina

This area, redeveloped in the 90s, offers a wide range of daily opportunities: museums, exhibitions, old buildings to be visited, cultural occasions of many different types. Join cultural events – or get some well-deserved rest – along this authentic harbour.

Besides the amazing Aquarium, the Galata Museo del Mare is another opportunity not to be missed.

Right in front of the ‘largest Maritime Museum in the Mediterranean area’, be ready to board the flabbergasting Nazario Sauro submarine –  an important piece of the Italian naval history turned into a docked attraction for the young and the old.

A few steps away, get enthusiastic about boarding a pirates vessel (erroneously called ‘il galeone’ by the locals):  a truly-deceptive reconstruction used for the filmmaking of ‘Pirates’, directed by Roman Polanski in 1985.

Other alternatives worth visiting on rainy days are ‘la Città dei bambini e dei ragazzi (The city of children and teenagers’) and ‘The Space Cinema’: a mind-blowing, cutting-edge multiplex.

Discover the Biosfera just behind the aquarium a gigantic glass bubble bursting with several hundred examples of tropical fauna and flora and designed by the Genoese archistar Renzo Piano.

Reach for the sky — and get a good view of the city — by taking the Bigo elevator.

Finally, a not-to-be-missed shopping, tasting, drinking experience is Eataly, the most-renowned Italian food hall, market, ice parlour — and much. much more — where you will be granted a discount for being a ‘B&B Genova centro’ guest.

The Palazzi dei Rolli
UNESCO World heritage site

The strade nuove  (Italian for ‘new streets’ ) such as Via Garibaldi, Via Cairoli, Via Bensa and Via Balbi and the Sistema dei Palazzi dei Rolli — have been recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2006. In the wealthy Genoese society between the 16th and the 18th century, numerous noble palaces were obliged to carry out a peculiar ritual of hospitality for distinguished guests such as cardinals, governors and princes. The Rolli were actual rolls of paper listing the mansions and palaces belonging to illustrious Genoese families which complied with the required standards for the accommodation of eminent guests on their state visit.

The Rolli open their doors to visitors twice a year, in May and October, during the so-called ‘Rolli Days’.

The Historical

Not many Genoese have set foot on this stunning work of architecture, located in the Bisagno Valley and stretching from the town of Bargagli through the suburbs of Struppa, Molassana and Staglieno. Over many centuries, it has passed from these outer district to the more central, residential Castelletto to bring water to our municipality and its port.

After reaching the city centre, it fills up a water tank at Piazza Sarzana and then splits up into two different channels ending separately at the Old Harbour Marina and docks.

It is also an easy, outstanding pedestrian walk of about 28 kilometers.