Genoa is a city worth tasting. Its culinary tradition has ancient roots and reveals the character of the territory and the cleverness of its people who have been able to invent genuine, tasty and attractive cuisine, using simple ingredients.
Walking through the historic centre it’s impossible to resist the temptation of a piece of Genoese focaccia, a real delight for the palate, ideal for a snack at any time of the day!
At lunchtime nothing like stopping in one of the ancient sciamadde (the term comes from “flame” and identifies the ancient street chip shop with wood oven), where you can taste delicious specialties such as farinata, made with chickpea flour and baked in a wood oven, stuffed anchovies, frisceu (tasty salty fritters made with batter) and numerous vegetable pies.
At dinner time, there are many restaurants where you can spend the evening and enjoy the specialties of Genoese cuisine, first of all the pesto, the undisputed king of local food, which here has a unique flavour, also thanks to the Genoese D.O.P. (denomination of controlled origin) basil.
And if after tasting it, you will not be able to do without it, there are many opportunities to attend courses and cooking lessons to learn all the secrets to prepare a pesto like a real Genoese!
Typical Genoese cuisine is also rich in fish dishes, such as cappon magro, a scenic and appetizing fish salad; the stockfish is excellent both “accomodato” (stewed with potatoes, olives and pine nuts) and like a salad, called brandacujun. And then the anchovies, prepared in a thousand different ways!
To end on a sweet note, not to be missed the pànera, a typical coffe-flavored parfait and the Genoese pandolce, a typical Christmas dessert that can be found in the pastry shops all year round!
Genoa is a city to discover which offers many ideas for visits and itineraries between art, culture, traditions, sea and nature. Here is a “top ten” of the places not to be missed for those who visit the city!
The historic centre of Genoa is a maze of narrow alleys, the caruggi, where it is amazing to get lost with the nose up, among ancient palaces, romanesque and baroque churches, art galleries, charming squares and artisan shops that still preserve the jobs of the past.
To enjoy a 360° view of the historic centre do not miss the liberty lift that leads from the city centre to Spianata Casteletto, a wonderful panoramic terrace where the gaze can space among slate roofs, terraces, towers, domes of the churches until plunging into the blue of the sea.
I Palazzi dei Rolli
In 1576 the Senate of the Republic of Genoa created the lists, the “Rolli degli alloggiamenti pubblici” which include the most prestigious noble palaces of the city. Since it wasn’t possible to host state visits at Palazzo Ducale, both for political and logistical reasons, the owners of the palaces included in the lists were obliged to host state visits in rotation and take charge of all representatives’expenses
The model of public hospitality created in Genoa is unique: thanks to its international guests, such as the famous flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, who celebrated these palaces in his successful book, published in Antwerp, Genoa became famous all over Europe for the quality of its architectures and for its refined and high level lifestyle. In 2006, the 42 Rolli palaces were included in the UNESCO listings.
Twice a year Genoa celebrates its Palazzi dei Rolli with the Rolli Days, a weekend where some of the 42 palaces open their doors to the public
Genoa offers a rich and wide-ranging variety of museums, as well as a cultural heritage of the highest quality. Archaeological finds, naturalistic models, extraordinary historical documents and art masterpieces evoke glorious eras and famous historical figures – Colombo, Rubens, Van Dyck, Paganini – which link the events of the modern and contemporary eras.
In Via Garibaldi, you can find the Strada Nuova Museums. All united in a single itinerary, they are part of the historic centre, a UNESCO heritage site: Palazzo Bianco, Palazzo Rosso (currently closed for restaurarion works) and Palazzo Tursi. The grandeur and refinement of the Genoese Baroque residences is also reflected in the Royal Palace Museum (Museo di Palazzo Reale) and the National Gallery of Palazzo Spinola di Pellicceria, where one can admire rich painting collections with portraits of the Genoese aristocracy made by Rubens and Van Dyck among period furniture, silverware, furnishings and tapestries.
Not to be missed a visit to Castello d’Albertis, museum of the culture of the world, which keeps rich etnographic collections in a suggestive neo-gothic castle with a wonderful view on the city; at Galata Sea Museum, the greatest and most innovative maritime museum of the Mediterranean, visitors can discover the deep relation between Genoa and the sea, through interactive settings and reconstructions.
One of the most charming surprises of the historic centre are the historic shops: these are shops and artisans workshops that have been active for at least seventy years. which include pastry shops, clothing shops, butchers, antique shops, grocery stores, trattorias, chocolate shops, wine shops, pharmacies, stationers and much more. Inside these boutiques you can admire frescoed ceilings, stuccoes, shelvings, adorned counters, antique machinery and work tools, and surprising architectural elements.
Parks and Villas
An unexpected Genoa awaits those who decide to leave the coast to venture into the green, among villas and gardens. One of the recommended stops in the western part of the city is Pegli, which can be easily reached by train or by the Navebus service, a boat that operates a regular service from the Porto Antico. In this village you can find the Villa Durazzo Pallavicini: the villa houses the Museum of Ligurian Archaeology. Surrounding it is a perfect example of a romantic garden designed as a theatrical scenic route, with a spectacular avenue of camellias, especially during the flowering period between February and April. Even further west, the beautiful park of Villa Duchessa di Galliera is an equally remarkable location to visit.
On the opposite side, towards the East, you will find Nervi with its villas immersed in parks, among Mediterranean and exotic essences. Here you can admire the Modern Art Gallery in Villa Saluzzo Serra, with 19th and 20th century works, part of art collections donated by the Frugone brothers and kept at Villa Grimaldi Fassio, and the Wolfsoniana, a gallery dedicated to 20th century decorative arts, from Art Nouveau to Deco, from the 20th century to Rationalism.
Villages on the sea
The ancient fishing village of Boccadasse is located not far to the city centre. Here the time seems to have stopped, among the pastel-colored houses and the fishermen boats on the beach.
Moving to the East, you’ll find Nervi, fishing village with its suggestive Anita Garibaldi Promenade, dug into the rocks, that offers breathtaking views among the deep blue of the sea and the bright green of the historic parks.
Acquario di Genova
27.000 square meters, 70 tanks and over 12.000 animals belonging to 600 different species: the Aquarium of Genoa is the largest exhibition of aquatic biodiversity in Europe.
It’s a journey to discover underwater life, among dolphins and sharks, penguins and manatees, jellyfish and seals, tropical fish and Antarctic animals, which will surprise both adults and kids
The Lighthouse is the symbol of the city; with itsi 77 meters high, it is the highest lighthouse in the Mediterranean and second in Europe. Inside the monument, you can find the Museum of the Lighthouse, where you can learn the history of this monument. Then, there are 172 steps to climb to get to the first terrace and enjoy a breathtaking view of the city.
Redesigned by Renzo Piano in 1992 the Porto Antico, the ancient portual area of the city, is nowadays a beautiful square on the sea both for Genoese and tourists.
The area offers many entertaining and leisure occasions, from cinema to restaurants, from ice skating ring to a pleasant aperitif overlooking the sea
Inside the area, in addition to the Aquarium, visitors can find the Bigo, the panoramic lift, whose shape and name recall to the ancient manual loading cranes and the Biosphere, a scenographic sphere of glass and steel, where you can learn about the plant and animal life in tropical forests
The forts and the Parco Urbano delle Mura (Park of the City Walls)
For trekking lovers, Genoa offers many different hikes to discover the ancient genoese fortifications, built between the Eighteenth and the Nineteenth centuries and the Parco Urbano delle Mura, a protected natural area which from 2008 protects 617 hectares of hills between the Bisagno and Polcevera valleys, the two main valleys of Genoa.