A Guide to Genoa (Genova, Italy)

 Piazza de Ferrari, the main piazza with ancient palaces and a fountain, in Genoa, Italy. 

Piazza de Ferrari, the main piazza with ancient palaces and a fountain, in Genoa, Italy. 

Genova

A juxtaposition of the old and the new: ancient stone palaces, shooting up as far as the eye can see, intermingle with brutalist architecture, both tainted by rebellious graffiti. The compact city centre, busy and noisy, morphs into quaint seaside neighbourhoods, where life seems to stand still. Life does, indeed, slow down in the middle of each day, coffee is drunk short while standing, and late afternoons are always marked by drips of gelato and the clinking of glasses. 

A medley of bridges and steps, which lead to nowhere and everywhere. People in the later years of life slowly walk up while carrying grocery bags, one in each hand; the younger ones sit and chat on the cold stone and sometimes kiss, too. The streets soar both overhead and below, the rumble of scooters and the stench of exhaust become commonplace. The roads, with their nausea-inducing curves and eerie tunnels, wind along the coastline, drawing a thick line between the mountains and the sea. An array of colourful abodes, cacti, and stunted trees sprinkle the hillside, caressed softly by the sparkling, turquoise waters. 

 A colourful seaside neighbourhood in Genova, Italy. The sea and the mountains, mare e monti. 

A colourful seaside neighbourhood in Genova, Italy. The sea and the mountains, mare e monti. 

A Guide to Genoa

I lived in Genova and I walked everywhere I had to go, no matter how long that walk might have been. I seldomly took the metro or bus, not even on rainy days (because those are the absolute worst days to stand in a bus). I did take the train, every once in awhile, to travel to further parts of the city (yes, Genoa is really that big).

I am equal parts curious and hesitant, which allows me to try new things, yet choose indulgences mindfully. That being said, this is a guide to Genoa written by someone who walks everywhere, and observes everything. It is only an introduction -- a brief outline of my favourite spots and notable places to go. I hope to go into more detail in further posts, and possibly include a "one day in Genoa" travel plan. I think that would be a lot of fun.

 The dark vicoli (narrow alleys/streets) of Genoa open up to bright piazze and open spaces. 

The dark vicoli (narrow alleys/streets) of Genoa open up to bright piazze and open spaces. 

 Boats and yachts parked at the Porto Antico (old port) of Genoa.

Boats and yachts parked at the Porto Antico (old port) of Genoa.

Notable Spots

  • Castello D'Albertis (museum and café, interesting elevator, panoramic view of Genova) 
  • Corso Italia and Boccadasse (long walk or run by the sea, beaches, and a trendy, yet old, fishing village)
  • Nervi (last neighbourhood of Genoa with a unique seaside walk and a park with pretty flowers)
  • Piazza Corvetto (piazza at the end of a fancy shopping street and a cute park with a waterfall)
  • Piazza de Ferrari (main piazza with a fountain and palace, often holding events and performances)
  • Porto Antico (old port, lots of yachts and cranes, fresh fish market)
  • Parco delle Mura (large natural park in the hills of Genova with ancient forts)
  • Via Garibaldi and the Spianata di Castelletto (street lined with palaces, and an impressive lookout)
  • Via San Lorenzo and the Centro Storico (main street leading to the old port and the historical centre)
 The passeggiata (seaside walk) in Nervi. 

The passeggiata (seaside walk) in Nervi. 

 Via Garibaldi in Genoa at sunset. 

Via Garibaldi in Genoa at sunset. 

Foods to Try

  • acciughe (anchovies) in any form
  • farinata (chickpea pancake)
  • focaccia (look for a crisp crust with a soft interior, glistening with extra-virgin olive oil) 
  • focaccia al formaggio (thin pastry filled with stracchino, a creamy fresh cheese)
  • pansoti (a type of filled pasta)
  • pesce (fish) in any form
  • pesto (basil, garlic, pine nut, parmesan)
  • polpettone (a vegetarian dish made with potatoes and green beans)
  • torta di bietole (savoury pie with bitter greens and prescinsêua, a fermented fresh cheese) 
  • sugo di noci (walnut sauce)
 Traditional Genovese food from Sà Pesta: (clockwise from top left) polpettone, acciughe ripiene, farinata, torta di bietole. 

Traditional Genovese food from Sà Pesta: (clockwise from top left) polpettone, acciughe ripiene, farinata, torta di bietole. 

 My daily walk in Genoa, full of colourful buildings and mountain views. 

My daily walk in Genoa, full of colourful buildings and mountain views. 

 The view of Genoa from the Spianata di Castelletto. Ancient rooftops, cranes, and the sea.

The view of Genoa from the Spianata di Castelletto. Ancient rooftops, cranes, and the sea.