Genoa is an extraordinarily wonderful city, offering a variety of pleasures and discoveries: Genoa boasts the largest medieval city centre still in use in Europe, which makes it a UNESCO World Heritage Site; home to a vast cultural and artistic patrimony, traditions of excellence initiated here and used the world over; there are plenty of other unexpected innovations around every corner of this magical city. Obviously the best way to unlock the secrets, unveil the city and really experience its delights are by utilising the knowledge of native expertise, get carried away by the imparted intimacy and authenticity. Feel the very soul of the city.
One of the largest in Europe, Genoa’s historic centre unwinds in an intricate maze of alleyways (caruggi) and small squares; the soul of the city lives here in these alleyways, where smells, tastes, and cultures have combined throughout history.
In these narrow spaces, tucked away between the hills and the sea, the pride of wealthy Genoese merchants, had beautiful mansions built, in which works of art have been collected and preserved for centuries and are visible to this day in several house-museums.
In this dense urban landscape, where the windows are so close they almost touch, architectural styles are layered over one another, this is a place where the past forms the foundations of the present.
In the centre, where time seems to have stood still, noble palaces and splendid churches alternate with historic shops that have been in operation for over 100 years, where local specialities are still prepared according to ancient recipes and handmade objects are crafted with timeless skill.
IL PORTO ANTICO
Redesigned by Renzo Piano in 1992, Genoa’s Old Port area has now become a mecca for tourists, who come here to enjoy an “aperitivo”, dine, shop, take a trip to the cinema, ice skate, or go for a swim at the pool.
At the end of the pier, home to the Magazzini del Cotone, with the city’s Lanterna (lighthouse) rising up nearby, you can admire Genoa and its Gulf in all their beauty. The hills form a backdrop to this impressive panorama, brightly coloured by day and lit up at night.
In addition to the Aquarium, the area offers a host of attractions, such as the scenic Bigo lift (reminiscent – in both shape and name – of the port’s old loading cranes), the Biosphere, The Galata Museo del mare and the Museo Luzzati, housed within the ancient Porta Siberia defensive bulwark and dedicated to the famous Genoese set designer and the renovated Museo Nazionale dell’Antartide, which tells the story of Italy’s expeditions to Antarctica, the world’s most distant, mysterious continent.
The very symbol of Genoa: rebuilt in 1543, it stands on a 40-metre-high rock, bringing the total height to 117 meters above sea level.
The 172 stairs can be climbed up to the first observation terrace for superb views of the harbour and historic centre.
At the foot is a multimedia museum, where visitors can choose their own itinerary depending on the video material that interests them most. There are about 150 videos to choose from, illustrating the history, art, material culture and traditions of life in the city and province of Genoa through the words of ordinary people.
The walk that leads to the Lighthouse is a pedestrian path of about 800 metres, starting out near the Ferry Terminal.
CASTELLETTO E RIGHI
Another way up to the high grounds are the funiculars: one is S. Anna’s, which runs since 1891 and the other one covers the distance between Largo della Zecca and Righi, launched in 1897 and leads to the highest areas.
Righi is a district placed 302 a.s.l.; it is a traditional destination for Genoese people and tourists for Sunday hikes, with routes leading to forts – sixteen forts, 870 hectares of land, 85 bastions – popular for wide views on the city, on the port, Val Bisagno and the coasts. Here you will find restaurants, an astronomical observatory, an adventure park. Close to the fort, you will also find an athletic park spread on the Peralto area and an archery training field.
ALBARO E BOCCADASSE
The hill descends toward the sea reaching Corso Italia with its prestigious residences and the old maritime village of Boccadasse.
Boccadasse, with its pastel shaded houses, all placed one on top of another and facing a small bay, has been preserved almost untouched, becoming one of the most popular places of interest in Genoa.
It is a lively and buzzing village, where some fishermen still carry on their old craft. Now, next to them, there are ice cream shops, restaurants and small art galleries.
The proximity to the city centre and to the other places on the East coast provides a strategic location, combining the elegant features of the residential area to the most society events of the coast.
In a almost only pedestrian area, away from the cars, it is possible to leave from the characteristic little port and, walking through the Anita Garibaldi promenade with its wonderful cliffs, reach the parks where, going through the rose garden, you can access the patrician villas that now host the Frugone and Luxoro Modern Art Gallery and the Wolfsoniana Museum.
Leaving the parks behind and moving toward the village you can start walking up the alleys that lead to the panoramic S. Ilario, home to many relevant Ligurian characters.