What to see in Genoa
A day in a city with a dual soul

Parts of Genoa seem to be painted by Gustav Klimt, others written by Charles Baudelaire. Liberty-style elegance, sumptuous palaces and all the charm of a lively port city.

Whether you’re exploring the caruggi (the narrow streets of the historic centre) or looking down from a mirador at one of the highest points of the city (accessible by lift or funicular), everything here is astonishing, brimming with enjoyable contrasts, including the food. So after a typical Genoese breakfast of fugassa (focaccia) dipped in cappuccino (try it to believe it!), we’ll start our tour at Piazza della Vittoria and its magnificent triumphal arch. From here, we cross the main shopping street Via XX Settembre and, passing underneath the famous Monumental Bridge, we come to Piazza De Ferrari, Genoa’s iconic central square, flanked by the Doge’s Palace, once home to rulers and now the venue for superb exhibitions, and the Teatro Carlo Felice. Not far away stands the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, built between the year 1100 and the late 14th century.

After a delicious lunch in one of the inviting sciamadda (traditional restaurants) or a quick stop for fried fish, we head for the port, where we find a mix of historical and contemporary architecture, including the Aquarium designed by Renzo Piano, the largest in Europe and the second-largest in the world.

A ten-minute walk, perhaps dropping in at the Antica Confetteria Romanengo, brings us to Via Garibaldi, a UNESCO heritage site and home to the most important of the Rolli, the noble palaces that line the street and the surrounding area. Don’t miss Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco, Palazzo Tursi and Palazzo Reale in Via Balbi, near the colourful Salita di Santa Brigida.

To complete the day with breathtaking views at sunset, we’ll return to Via Garibaldi and take the Ascensore Castelletto Levante, Genoa’s most elegant lift, topped by Liberty-style glass panels. From the top we can admire the city’s dual soul: to the left, a roofscape that could be Parisian and, to the right, the impressive cranes of the port.

(cover photo: Folco Masi – photo 2: Maxence Werp)

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