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!