Day 1,558 of Traveling the World | Genoa, Italy | May 9, 2022

All we knew about Genoa (or, in Italian, Genova) before we arrived was that it was the hometown of Christopher Columbus and that it was a port on the Ligurian Sea, a branch of the Mediterranean north of Corsica and Sardinia. But we have discovered its charms. We are staying in the city’s Old Town, directly across from the Old Port. We arrived by train from Bologna on Sunday morning, and as we walked the 15 minutes to our hotel, we were unimpressed by what we saw. Genoa looked rough, and grim. But when we got to the street our hotel was on, there were more people, cafes, and traffic. The city was coming to life. And when we wandered through the old town and into the newer area, it was like we had crossed from several centuries earlier into more modern times. Once outside the old town, prices rose! Everything was more upscale, with the prices rising accordingly.

We did try to tour the Christopher Columbus house today (Monday), but it was closed. We found that half of all businesses were closed on Sunday, and the other half are closed on Monday! His childhood home is just at the dividing line between the old and new cities. It is just a little downhill from the famous Porta Soprana, the highest (“soprano” – get it?) gate/fortification in the city.

We walked the Via Garibaldi, a noted street in the Old Town, which has more than 100 palaces. A few are now art museums, but the exteriors are magnificent. Visiting the Genoa Cathedral, we found it to be absolutely glorious inside. We walked along the harbor for a while, where a lot of people were going to the largest aquarium in Europe, or just having some cappuccino. Local dishes were on our agenda while here, as we leave for France tomorrow – lasagna with pesto (a Genoese specialty) and pansoti (a Genoese triangular-shaped ravioli stuffed with herbs and cheese) with its traditional hazelnut sauce – very rich and unusual. We enjoyed them greatly.

On the Via XX Settembre, a wide shopping and dining street, there is a beautiful inlaid sidewalk (photo below), and for several blocks, there is a fun and gorgeous portico that runs along both sides of the street. Innocently and unknowingly, we walked up one street called the Magdalen (Maddalena) – can you guess what we saw there? See below! All in all, Genoa was a fun city in which to end our time in Italy. We would happily return to this country anytime at all. You know the old wisdom…you will never have a bad meal in Italy! It’s the truth. But you will also, always, see beautiful old buildings and churches and meet the nicest people ever. Grazie, Italia!

The famous fountain on Ferrari Square. Unlike most others, which flow from the center OUT, the water shoots into the center from the edges.
This is the Biosfera (Biosphere) in Genoa’s Old Port, designed by the acclaimed architect Renzo Piano. It has gorgeous bright orange ibises walking around inside, along with butterflies and amphibians. The interior is very cramped, though.
The Sottoripa Portico, across from Genoa’s Old Port, began to be constructed in 1133 AD. It is Italy’s oldest portico (think about it: it was a little over 350 years old when Columbus walked through it!). Our hotel is just behind where we took this photo, overlooking the harbor.
Palazzo Ducale, the magnificent Doge’s Palace, was built in 1298, and is now a gathering/hanging out spot.
…going inside, the palace is now a mall, with a few different businesses. The cafe portion, an atrium, is open to the sky above.
Palaces (palazzos) along the Via Garibaldi.
This palazzo was highly ornamented.
…and here is a detail of the facade. We truly don’t know if this is male or female, but it doesn’t really matter…it is nicely done.
…and just down the block was this building, with men lowering their heads. We don’t know if they are supposed to be expressing pain, holding the building up, or something else.
This street is the Magdalen. Several women were hanging out on the doorsteps, eyeing us up and down, and then the woman with the purple umbrella walked around the corner in stilettos and the tightest clothing ever. We realized we were in the Red Light District!
The next palazzo was adorned with these faces! We LOVED their various expressions!
As usual, everyone else was window shopping, and we were looking DOWN at this beautiful sidewalk, installed in 1909.
The ceiling of the arcade on Via XX Settembre – every business trying to advertise their own – it was like Las Vegas!
…and more – notice the signs, the ceiling, the sidewalk, the pillars of the portico – a very rich experience!
A fun whale – again, notice the sidewalk, too!
Across the street, the portico has picked up Genoa’s favorite theme of black and white stripes, now faded to gray and cream.
We liked the ornamentation on these buildings above the portico- more stripes!
Do you need gladness? Step right up, as walking shoes are sold here. With our increased level of walking, good shoes sure make us glad – and pain-free.
Unsure as to what this business was, we looked inside and found ATMs. But that is only the first-floor business. Wall Street English is a language school for native Italian speakers…maybe for those who want to go work on Wall Street.
The Christopher Columbus House, with a plaque at the top announcing his name and accomplishments. Adjacent is a sign announcing Mocktail Week. What??!! You can only make money if alcohol is involved!
The Chiostro di Sant’Andrea (Cloister of St. Andrew) is a beautiful ruin of what once was. It is adjacent to the Columbus home and a few steps away from the Porta Soprana.
The Porta Soprana (not Tony or Carmela!). It was constructed in 1158 to defend against attacks by Frederick Barbarossa. Notice that the crenellations at the top are still intact!
As in Bologna, we have loved seeing these little storefronts from the early 1900s. This is an engraving shop.
Yes, the entrance to this tiny shop is just the width of one person. What you see is all there is!
The Old Town was decorated with butterflies throughout.
A view into the Old Town from the Porta Soprana. As we wandered around, thinking we were on small pedestrian paths, there would be honks from a motorcycle, car, OR truck, wanting to get by. We saw some pretty tight squeezing-through moments, as these streets are only meant for people!
The striped building is the Genoa Cathedral.
Genoa Cathedral of San Lorenzomagnificent! The black and white stripes are ubiquitous in Genoa and, as you saw, also adorn the exterior of this beautiful cathedral.
The glorious dome!
The magnificent organ pipes, with frescoes on either side looking like a book opening up.
A sarcophagus with clawed feet!
The front and back of the boat, the Vascello Neptune, a tourist attraction in Genoa’s harbor.
The artist, left, had just finished this sand sculpture and was cleaning up the excess sand. Quite a large group was watching, and everybody (including us) threw coins into his box. As we walked up, we thought this was a real dog. Since it is on a blanket, does he just destroy his artwork each day and start anew the next time? Hmmmm…we don’t know, but that is our guess!
Red. Juicy. Strawberries. We bought a carton.
How does anyone know which vehicle is their own???
Anyone with an infant would certainly want to visit Bebibaboo!
Mickey was visiting the Old Port – but they didn’t get his face quite right, did they? He looks like he is just a member of this family.
A sundae on a cone – gelato, whipped cream, nuts, and chocolate, at Gelateria Artigianale. She was eating ice cream with her mom, and we asked if we could take a photo before she dug in. Is that a beautiful, inviting cone of gelato for a beautiful woman, or what? We may have to indulge in one tonight! A gelato, not a woman. We have no plans to return to the Magdalen this evening.