This Italian port city, sprawling on the shores of the Bay of Genoa, although attracts attention, but not as much as it deserves, being overshadowed by the more famous neighboring cities in the south, there is, however, something to see in Genoa.
In addition to being the home of Italy’s oldest football team, and perhaps the first bank in Europe, the city has a medieval charm that creates magnificent cathedrals, narrow streets and small squares hidden from the eyes of tourists.
The city is located in the heart of the Riviera, which allows you to go from the marina to a journey through charming fishing villages and discover a series of magical coves. The city that Italy’s greatest poet and humanist Petrarch named La Superba has much to offer…
Piazza Ferrari is Genoa’s main and largest square, separating the historic district from the modern city center. In the middle of it, there is a round fountain that attracts tourists and locals like a magnet.
The square was named after the duke and generous patron Raffael de Ferrari, who donated a lot of his money to the expansion of the port of Genoa in the 1800s.
Ferrari Square is a fairly lively area with many interesting sights, among them the Doge’s Palace, which today is used as a cultural center, built in neoclassical style, an opera house named after the Genoese ruler Carlo Felice, and the building of Italy’s oldest stock exchanges.
Address: Piazza De Ferrari, Piazza Raffaele de Ferrari, Genoa, Italy.
Royal Palace Museum
The Royal Museum, called by the Italians the Palazzo Reale, built by the Genoese aristocracy during the heyday of Genoa, is one of the most magnificent city residences. Experience baroque opulence with opulent interiors and the site’s richest art gallery.
At first glance, it seems that this grandiose palace was intended specifically for the royal house, but this is not so, in fact, it was built at the beginning of the 17th century for the noble Italian family of Balbi, who a few decades later sold it to the no less rich and influential family of Durazzo . Originally named after the original owners, Palazzo Balbi, it was only in the 19th century that it began to be called a royal palace, when it became the main residence of the ruling Savoy dynasty.
Currently, the Palazzo Reale is a museum, with a collection of exquisite antique furniture and rooms decorated with beautiful frescoes, stucco and paintings by famous artists, among which are the creations of Tintoretto and Van Dyck.
Address: Royal Palace Museum, Via Balbi, Genoa, Italy.
For obvious reasons, Genoa is associated primarily with the sea. This is the largest port city in Italy, and it is here that you can see the Genoese aquarium – the largest in Italy and one of the largest in Europe.
The aquarium is located in the old port of the city. In the early 1990s, the area was redesigned to be less industrial and more touristy, and the aquarium became part of this massive renovation project. The work was entrusted to the famous architect Renzo Piano, who, by the way, was himself a native of Genoa. The Aquarium opened its doors to guests in 1992, and today more than 1.2 million people visit it.
The aquarium has 70 tanks, which together contain over 1.6 million gallons of water and 12,000 marine life. This aquarium is the only one in Europe where you can see some of the unique species of Antarctic fish. In 1998, the aquarium was expanded to include a wing reserved exclusively for marine mammals, with enough space for 10 dolphins.
Address: Acquario di Genova, Ponte Spinola, Genoa, Italy.
Maritime Museum Galata
Genoa has been a major maritime power for centuries, so it’s no surprise that today one of the city’s most fascinating sites, the Galata Museum, is located here. The four floors of the Maritime Museum are occupied by numerous exhibits related to sailing ships and maritime exploration, including an entire hall dedicated to the famous Genoese navigator Christopher Columbus and his transatlantic voyage.
The Galata Museum is located in the oldest building in Darsen, the area of the old city port, and its name is a kind of tribute to the old Genoese quarter in Istanbul, which was part of the Republic of Genoa from the 13th to the 15th centuries.
In addition to the 28 museum rooms, there is an observation deck, as well as the docked S518 Nazario Sauro submarine, which curious tourists can explore from the inside.
Address: Galata Museo del Mare, Calata Ansaldo De Mari, Genoa, Italy.
Genoa is the oldest seaside city, and one of the most picturesque views of the Mediterranean Sea opens from its embankment. Corso is a 2.4 kilometer street curving along the coastline, neatly paved with paving slabs. There is enough space for leisurely walks, jogging and even sunbathing on the beaches along the way.
The main promenade of Genoa connects the Foce area with the old fishing village of Boccadasse. There are many restaurants and beach clubs along the route, as well as the city’s main attractions, such as the church of San Pietro, the abbey, San Giuliano and small art deco mansions overlooking the sea. Walk down to the promenade and enjoy a pleasant walk along this atmospheric esplanade.
Address: Corso Italia, Genoa, Italy.
Cathedral of San Lorenzo
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo (Duomo), located in the heart of ancient Genoa, is the main religious building of the city. It is a soaring masterpiece, created in the Gothic-Romanesque style and faced alternately with strips of black and white marble, whose monumental art and architecture serve as a constant reminder of the historical wealth and power of the former maritime power.
The construction of the Genoese cathedral began at the beginning of the 11th century, although its facade and interiors were completed centuries later under the direction of the Perugian architect Galeazzo Alessi. As a result, the architecture of the cathedral harmoniously combines elements of the Romanesque, Gothic and Mannerist styles. Its interior halls are decorated with luxurious frescoes of the 14th century, and it also houses the very Holy Grail, which, according to legend, was used by Christ during the Last Supper.
Address: Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, Genoa, Italy.
One of the most prominent features of the huge port of Genoa is an unusual structure sticking out of the water, strongly resembling a space probe. This multi-faceted white structure, similar to a multi-armed crane, is called “Bigo”, and it is nothing more than a panoramic elevator.
The Bigo was designed by renowned Genoese architect Renzo Piano, the same man who designed the aquarium in Genoa in 1992 for the anniversary of Columbus’ voyage to the New World.
With one of Bigo’s “arms” you can climb into the elevator cabin, which, turning 360 degrees, opens up a wide view of the city. The cabin is specially equipped with an audio guide for foreign guests of the city.
Not surprisingly, Bigo’s design was influenced by the many huge cranes that seem to be working non-stop, lifting and unloading goods from huge cargo ships moored in the harbour.
Address: Bigo, Calata Cattaneo, Genoa, Italy.
Palazzi dei Rolli
Many people believe that the entire historic center of Genoa is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, but in fact this is not the case, only some of the city’s sites were taken under its protection.
First of all, these are the city street Strade Nuove and the Palazzi dei Rolli quarter, which is a complex of 42 palaces built in the 16th-18th centuries, which were entered in the city register as rolls or rolli, which later gave the name to the palace system. Every time a dignitary made a state visit to Genoa, he needed a place corresponding to his high status. The palace for him was chosen randomly from the rolli.
In fact, the Palacio dei Rolli is one of the first projects of centralized urban development. The palaces are unique, but their design, nevertheless, is sustained in the same style. Palazzi dei Rolli were added to the UNESCO list in 2006.
Address: The New Streets and the System of Palazzi dei Rolli ”Unesco“, Via Garibaldi, Генуя, Италия.
One of the most famous historical streets in the center of Genoa is Via Garibaldi. Over the centuries, its name has changed several times. What we know today as Via Garibaldi was known as the Strada Maggiore, or “Great Street”, when it was built in the mid-1500s.
Later it became known as Strada Nuova, which meant “New Street”. It was finally renamed in 1882 in honor of the great revolutionary leader of Italy, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and in 2006 the street and the complex of historic palaces were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Initially, Garibaldi Street was designed and built to accommodate the houses of wealthy Genoese dynasties. Soon it was dotted with luxurious palaces, each of which was occupied by a noble family, and many of them were passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years. Today, some of these palaces, once owned by Italian aristocrats, are state museums and galleries, and the whole street is a feast for the eyes, especially for architecture lovers.
Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco, Palazzo Doria Tursi – these are just some of the palaces of Via Garibaldi, open to visitors to the city. Unfortunately, a small part of the mansions is closed to the public. However, those houses that you still manage to get into will surprise visitors with beautiful old frescoes in the interior.
Address: Via Garibaldi, Via Garibaldi, Genoa, Italy.
From the 14th to the 18th century, the rulers of Genoa were called doges, and he ruled from the Doge’s Palace – Palazzo Ducale, which is located in the historical part of the city. Nowadays, the palace functions as a museum, so everyone can walk through its magnificent halls.
The Doge’s Palace was built starting from the 1250s, and the finishing touches to the building were made only in the 1530s. In the past, the palace served as the seat of the government of the Genoese Republic. Over the years it has been expanded and partially rebuilt twice, once after a fire in the 1770s.
You can get to the Doge’s Palace through the main entrance, from the side of Piazza Matteori, as well as through the secondary entrance from the side facade of the building, which overlooks the famous Piazza de Ferrari. Today, the palace performs various civil functions. Exhibitions are regularly organized in its halls, including expositions of contemporary art. It also has a couple of large halls that are often used for various events. They are decorated with historical frescoes, making the venue a highlight of any celebration held there.
Address: Palazzo Ducale, Piazza Giacomo Matteotti.
Piazza Caricamento is one of the city’s main squares, located along the famous waterfront. Whether you’re in Genoa because you’re on a cruise, or you’re just visiting this historic city on your own, you’ll undoubtedly spend much of your time on the picturesque waterfront. The largest port in Italy is always busy, so Piazza Caricamento is the right place for those who like to observe the daily life of people.
The square is directly opposite the pier where the Genoa Aquarium is located, and extends under the road overpass further from the harbour. At the southern end of the square, you can see the ancient palace of Palazzo San Giorgio, built in the 13th century.
Address: Loading square, Loading square, Генуя, Италия.
San Lorenzo Street
Via San Lorenzo stretches in a southeasterly direction from the port of Genoa to one of the main city squares. Perhaps the biggest attraction on Via San Lorenzo is the church called the Cathedral of Genoa or the Cathedral of San Lorenzo. It was consecrated at the beginning of the 12th century, and the square in front of the cathedral was the only public square in Genoa in the Middle Ages.
Today, one of the most popular squares in Genoa, Piazza Matteotti, is located right across San Lorenzo Street, and leads from it to Palazzo Ducale, where you can also find the Church of Saints Ambrogio and Andrea. It was built at the end of the 16th century, while the Palazzo Ducale dates back to the end of the 13th century. Any sights of Genoa, according to the photo and description, cannot be compared with the real beauty of the city.
Address: Via San Lorenzo, Genoa, Italy.
Cemetery of Staglieno
You may not have intended to go to Genoa to visit the cemetery, but you can change your plans. One of the largest cemeteries in Europe, Staglieno is located near Genoa and is definitely worth a visit.
Staglieno is called the “monumental cemetery”, and indeed, it can be considered not only as a cemetery, but also as a real open-air museum of sculpture. Opened in 1851, it covers an area of about one square kilometer. Today Staglieno is divided into several small cemeteries – English, Protestant and Jewish. In the center stands a statue of Vera, standing in front of a copy of the Pantheon, the original of which is located in Rome.
Oscar Wilde’s wife, Italian singer Fabrizio De Andre, Italian soldiers and politicians were buried in Staglieno. The funeral figures that adorn the tombs were the work of renowned sculptors such as Leonardo Bistolfi, Augusto Rivalto and Giulio Monteverde.
Staglieno were buried Oscar Wilde’s wife, Italian singer Fabrizio De Andre, Italian soldiers and politicians. The funeral figures that adorn the tombs were the work of renowned sculptors such as Leonardo Bistolfi, Augusto Rivalto and Giulio Monteverde.
Address: Staglieno Cemetery, Piazzale Resasco, Genoa, Italy.
Many former private homes in Italy are now museums that were bequeathed to cities because the bankrupt nobility could not afford to keep them any longer. In Genoa, you can see several of these museums, including the Palazzo Bianco in the historic center.
The Palazzo Bianco, or White Palace, was built in the 1530s for the ruling Grimaldi family. In the mid-1600s, the Grimaldi sold it to the De Franchi family, who kept it until the early 1700s. The palace then passed into the possession of the Brignole-Sale family, who also owned the Palazzo Rosso, located nearby, on Via Garibaldi. In the 1880s, the Palazzo Bianco was transferred to Genoa, after which it began to be used as a museum.
Today the palace is known as the Palazzo Bianco Museum and its collection includes paintings from all over Europe dating from the 12th to the 17th century. In the gallery you can see paintings by famous artists, including Caravaggio, Veronese, Filippino Lippi, Rubens, Van Dyck and many others. There is also an extensive collection of paintings by Genoese artists of the 16th-18th centuries.
Address: Palazzo Bianco, Via Garibaldi, Genoa, Italy.
La Lanterna Lighthouse
La Lanterna is Genoa’s tall stone lighthouse that has guided ships to port since the Middle Ages. It stands proudly at 76 meters, making it the second tallest stone lighthouse in the world.
The original lighthouse was built in 1128, but due to intermittent wars over the centuries, it has suffered extensive damage. La Lanterna, which can be seen today, was renovated in 1543, making it one of the oldest such structures in the world. To this day, La Lanterna is an active landmark for ships entering the port.
You can climb 172 steps to the observation deck, which offers a grandiose panorama of Genoa and its picturesque harbor. After that, be sure to head to the nearby Lantern Museum, which covers the history of Genoa and its Old Port.
Address: La Lanterna di Genova, Genoa, Italy.
Basilica della Santissima Annunciata del Vastato
The construction of the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato began in the 16th century, but work on its interior was completed only a century later, which explains the abundance of baroque decor in the interior.
A special feature of the church is its neoclassical façade, built in the mid-1800s. The pure white exterior walls give no hint of the explosion of color and ornament that catches the eye as soon as you step over the threshold of the basilica. The best baroque craftsmen were hired to complete the interior decoration, which was only done in the 17th century.
The breath stops when looking at the golden decor, with huge frescoes scattered across the vault of the nave ceiling. The artist responsible for most of the work on the dome also oversaw the creation of the interior decoration of the basilica, which is why the interior of the room looks well planned, even though various masters and studios worked on it.
Address: Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata del Vastato, Piazza della Nunziata, Генуя, Италия.
Red Palace (Palazzo Rosso)
It often seems that some notable Italian buildings have been named arbitrarily. However, with the Palazzo Rosso in Genoa, everything is very clear. As soon as you see it, you will immediately understand why it got its name – this is a palace, and it has a characteristic red color.
Palazzo Rosso was built as a private home in the 1670s for the influential Brignole Sale family. They owned the palace for two hundred, until the moment when one of the family members decided to transfer it to the city. The palace can be found among the many similar houses built for other noble families, on Garibaldi Street in the historic center of Genoa, exactly the part of the city that was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2006.
When the Palazzo Rosso came into the possession of the city in the 1870s, it began to be used as an art museum, the doors of which were open to the general public. Today, the museum’s collection includes magnificent paintings by Van Dyck, Dürer, Veronese, Guercino and many other masters. Some of the paintings in the gallery, including portraits of family members, were in a private collection, but were transferred to Genoa along with the palace itself.
Address: Red Palace, Via Garibaldi, Genoa, Italy.
Museum of Oriental Art Chiossone
Surely you did not expect that while in Italy you can see a large collection of Asian art, but this is exactly why you can come to the Chiossone Museum of Oriental Art in Genoa.
Edoardo Ciossone is a 19th century Italian engraver and painter who spent over two decades in Japan. During this time, he collected an incredible collection of Asian culture items, which, after his death, was donated to the Ligurian Academy of Fine Arts in Genoa, and only in 1905 the Chiossone Museum of Oriental Art was opened, where the entire grandiose collection was transferred.
Due to Chiossone’s long relationship with Japan, most of the museum’s collection refers specifically to Japanese art, but, nevertheless, more than 15,000 exhibits of the museum are objects of Asian culture. It is believed that this is where the largest collection of Asian art in Europe is located.
Address: Edoardo Chiossone Museum of Oriental Art, Piazzale Giuseppe Mazzini, Genoa, Italy.
Church of St. Mary at the Castle (Basilica of Santa Maria di Castello)
The Basilica of Santa Maria di Castello, located on the top of a hill with a beautiful view of the district of Castello, is one of the most important churches in the bustling port city. This Romanesque basilica is only part of a major religious complex, which also includes a monastery and a museum that is home to fine paintings by the most famous Genoese artists.
The original appearance of the Basilica of Santa Maria di Castello, built in the 10th century, has changed significantly, because during the 12th-17th centuries it underwent a number of reconstructions and additions. Its interior was decorated, commissioned by the noble families of Genoa, with magnificent works by Francesco Maria Schiaffino, Lorenzo Fasolo, Alessandro Gherardini and Giuseppe Palmieri.
The church is also famous for the frescoes depicting the “Stories of David” and the 16th century majolica of the Genoese school. The doors of the basilica, museum and monastery are always open for guests of the city.
Address: Church of St. Mary at the Castle, Salita Santa Maria di Castello, Genoa, Italy.
The vast port city of Genoa is made up of several distinct districts, each with its own history and identity. One of them is Boccadasse, located on the waterfront to the east of the city center. Once a tiny fishing village, today it’s a wonderfully colorful and quirky neighborhood best explored on foot.
Wander the narrow streets lined with small restaurants and galleries, grab a bite to eat at a local café, relax on one of the bay’s small pebbly beaches and watch the local fishermen launch their small row boats. Keep in mind the breathtaking views of the Riviera of Liguria, take a walk to Cape Portofino, which offers a picturesque view of the top of Cape Santa Chiara with Zamo Turke.
Address: Via Boccadasse, Genoa, Italy.
The district of Castelletto in Genoa got its name from a small castle that in ancient times stood on a rock. The castle itself, although it was completely destroyed at the end of the 19th century, however, the view from the hill remains excellent, especially if you are in Spianata.
The Spianata Castelletto, also known as Montaldo’s Belvedere, offers a beautiful panorama of Genoa from the Old Port, the iconic Lanterna and the historic city centre. Sit on one of the benches around the hotel and take in the view. Don’t be surprised if you ever see wedding photos taken in this wonderful place.
Address: Castelletto esplanade, Rondinella climb, Генуя, Италия.
Cruise port of Genoa
Not surprisingly, Genoa, the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, has the second largest port in Europe.
Popular as a stopover for cruise ships, the city blends old and new attractions, with historic palazzi and basilicas side by side with modern buildings. Genoa is the best starting point for shore excursions to Ligurian coastal villages.
Address: Palazzo San Giorgio, Via della Mercanzia 2, Genoa, Liguria 16123, Italy.