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Genoa used to be a significant player in European politics. The Republic of Genoa was known the Republica Superba, or Proud Republic. What's ironic is the fact that Genoa's favorite boy, Christopher Columbus, was created here, however it was mainly because of his discovery of alternate trade channels that his hometown's influence and energy started to diminish. This lesser known port is content in its anonymity, and thrives on it’s predominantly port status. 
Today, Genoa remains Italy's primary port city for commerce and industry. Most of the 820,000 citizens from the city make their livelihood in the ocean, mainly through shipping. However the Genovese economy has broadened, with busy banking, electronics, and communications companies finding houses here.
Genoa has experienced recently, with little to draw in an growing Italian tourism business. Most vacationers bypass Genoa in support of Florence, Rome, and Venice, or simply use Genoa like a transfer point for outings towards the Italian or French Rivieras. The city's efforts to carry a celebration in recognition of Columbus in 1992, including a face-lift from the harbor area, fell apart among political infighting and delays. Today, crime and pollution are bigger problems here compared to other Italian metropolitan areas.
Nonetheless, there's plenty to do and see during Genoa. The little roads twist and switch with the city, with a lot of hidden restaurants and shops to please the adventurous traveler.
Docking & Local Transportation
Luxury cruise ships pier in the Stazioni Marittime Health spa, Ponte dei Mille, in Genoa. There's easy accessibility relaxation from the city, and also the country for your matter, in the port.
Taxis are one of the easiest ways to circumvent Genoa. Local buses visiting most sights, along with a ticket provides you with limitless bus travel. Funiculars are extremely popular, as Genoa is really a city which has broadened just as much up and down because it has flat.
Local Interests
Azienda di Promozione Turistica is Genoa's tourist information center. You will find all the maps and guides you'll need here. A terrific way to get an introduction to the town is as simple as going for a harbor cruise. Contact the Cooperativa Battellieri dei Porto di Genova for information and tickets.
Right next door from one another are a set of palaces that deserve a glance. The Social Gallery from the Red-colored Structure goes back towards the 1600s. Its assortment of works of art includes Guercino's Nefertiti and Veronese's Giuditta. There's also an exhibit featuring ceramics and sculptures. Right next door in the Red-colored Structure is its older brother or sister, the Social Museum from the Whitened Structure. Dating back the 1500s, the structure was contributed through the Duchess of Gallier. It's been remodeled in recent occasions, and the majority of the artwork here originates from foreign artists. David's Polittico della Cervara plus some outstanding work by Peter Paul Rubens would be the highlights here.
Cathedral enthusiasts will not wish to miss the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo & Campanile. The cathedral has ended 400 years of age, as the dome and bell tower are relatively recent, getting been created by Alessi within the 1500s. The Chapel of John the Baptist is stated to carry its namesake's remains. One of the other items listed here are a blue platter which the mind of John the Baptist was allegedly given to Salome along with a very dish stated to possess been area of the Last Supper.
Things to see
Mention Genoa and most people think Columbus, Paganini and pesto. At a stretch, they might know that the capital of Liguria also boasts Italy’s oldest football club, has St George as its patron saint and was home to Europe’s – arguably the world’s – first bank. But the city that the scholar Petrarch described as ‘La Superba’ has plenty more to recommend it...
Step back in time
Genoa has the largest medieval centre in Europe, thanks to its success, alongside Venice, Amalfi and Pisa, as a Maritime Republic, during the Middle Ages. Unlike the others, Genoa is still a working and thriving port. For a sense of its history wander the caruggi, the atmospheric medieval alleyways that lead from the port up to Piazza de Ferrari, the city’s main square. The narrow cobblestoned passageways are quite claustrophobic but then you’ll emerge in a light-filled piazza with an ancient church, or a street lined with quirky bars, botteghe and boutiques. Piazza Banchi at the end of via San Luca, takes its name from the ‘banchi’ (singular ‘banco’ or bench) where it’s thought the first money exchanges took place. Today there’s a little flower market along with stalls selling books and music.
Meet the Masters
The Renaissance and Baroque palaces on the Strade Nuove (‘New Streets’), built between the 16th and 17th centuries, were listed on the ‘Palazzi dei Rolli  – a register of dwellings offering hospitality to kings on state visits. Peter Paul Rubens was so impressed by them that, in 1550, he published a collection of detailed designs that would come in handy after the palaces were badly damaged during the Second World War. A staggering 46 (of 163) are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and three are now galleries: Palazzo Bianco has paintings by Luca Cambiaso, Rubens and Caravaggio, while Palazzo Rosso (reopening in October following renovation) has a wonderful collection including works by Van Dyck and Veronese. Palazzo Tursi, now the City Hall, holds one of Paganini’s violins as well as, reputedly, Christopher Columbus’ bones. A museum card offering discounts and free bus travel starts from €13.50.
Flash the cash
Your first port of call for designer shopping should be Via Roma, where you’ll find Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton and Mario Forni, while the arcaded via XX Settembre is good for mid-range shops, one-off boutiques and the fabulous Mercato Orientale for cheeses, fresh fruit and veg, pastas, olives, meats and fish. The little streets running perpendicular are home to some lovely independent shops selling gentlemen’s hats and canes, exquisite pastries and fresh pasta. Wandering the caruggi you’ll find antique shops within old palazzi, tiny art galleries, even high-end retailers such as Hermès. Those inspired by the palazzi on via Garibaldi must visit the wonderful interiors emporium at Via Garibaldi 12.
Join the culture club
Palazzo Ducale, once home to the Doges who ruled Genoa during the Middle Ages, is now an arts complex containing bookshops, restaurants, bars, shops and art galleries, hosting regular photography and art exhibitions. Coming up are ‘Stanley Kubrick: Photographer’ and ‘Geisha & Samurai’. It’s also the venue where, in 2014, the fifth Pesto World Championships will be held. A food market can often be found in Piazza Matteotti, which faces the palace.
Get high
You’ll get great views of Genoa from Renzo Piano’s Il Bigo structure, its lift resembling a ship’s crane that will whizz you 130 feet above the port. Alternatively, head up to the 6th floor of Palazzo Rosso for views over Genoa’s rooftops. Genoa also has several funiculars and the one to Belvedere Montaldo at Castelleto affords a spectacular panorama of the whole city, port and all.
Taste the seasons
There’s a phrase in Genoese dialect meaning ‘He who tastes minestrone will never leave Genoa’. Trattorie all too happy to oblige include L'Atelier dei Sapori (Via di Porta Soprana 55R), a stone’s throw from where Columbus was reputedly born, and Sa Pesta (Via del Giustiniani 16R in the caruggi) but there’s plenty besides soup to tickle your tastebuds. Try farinata – a delicious chickpea pancake – at Zena Zuena. In the season, ‘con bianchetti’ (with whitebait) is a speciality. Focaccia, typically eaten on the move, is delicious col formaggio (with cheese). And when artichokes are in season (October through May) try delicious pasqualina, a traditional pie of artichokes, eggs and Parmesan.
See the city, ports and all
The once-gritty port area was spruced up for Genoa’s City of Culture status back in 2004 and is now a destination in its own right, boasting bars, gelaterie and restaurants, as well as a world-class aquarium with shark and dolphin tanks. There’s also a maritime museum, the Galata Museo del Mare, celebrating Genoa’s prodigious seafaring history with a café and great views. Every year, one of the ancient Maritime Republics hosts a regatta with a rowing competition preceded by a spectacular parade, with each city recreating some important historical event.
With a little help from Renzo Piano, native son and star architect, the wharfs along Genoa’s old port, known as the Porto Antico, have been transformed into bustling, palm-lined promenades full of cafes, restaurants and a biosphere suspended over the water. There’s also an aquarium that bills itself as one of Europe’s largest, but it can get mobbed. Instead, head to the Galata Museo del Mare (Calata De Mari 1; 39-010-23-45-655; www.galatamuseodelmare.it), a maritime museum with strategic views. Grab an espresso at the Galata Cafe and head to the roof, which overlooks the waterfront and the city. Small viewfinders identify the city’s major attractions, helping you plot out your day.
Very Old Town
Parts of Genoa’s old city still look and feel like the Middle Ages. The cobblestone alleyways are so narrow that you can stretch out your arms and touch buildings on either side of the street. Spend some time getting lost — it’s easy to do — though you don’t want to miss theSan Lorenzo Cathedral (Piazza San Lorenzo; 39-010-246-8869), which dates back to the ninth century, in the heart of the old city. Its distinctive zebra-striped facade is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, repeated on buildings throughout the city. San Lorenzo’s smaller architectural twin, the Church of San Matteo (Piazza San Matteo), is a short walk away and has an ornate marble crypt, where the explorer Andrea Doria is entombed.
Cattedrale di San Lorenzo
The Cattedrale di San Lorenzo is Genoa's cathedral, located in a little square uphill from the Porto Antico. The imposing building was begun in a Romanesque style and subsequently given a Gothic make-over, followed by several more centuries of restorations and alterations, and the wide range of styles on display makes it a memorable sight. The exterior is striped and ornamented with columns in many decorative coloured marbles and the steps to the church are guarded by two photogenic stone lions. Just inside the main portal is a fourteenth-century Byzantine-style fresco. The ashes of John the Baptist (source of a miraculous quantity of relics) were worshipped in the Cappella di San Giovanni Battista, a lovely Renaissance side-chapel lined with elegant statues (take coins for illumination).
St. Laurence, to whom the cathedral is dedicated, is just one of Genoa's patron saints. Fittingly for a Republic run by bankers, Genoa maximised its chances by appointing four powerful patrons: St. Laurence, St. George, John the Baptist and St. Sebastian. St. Laurence and the grill on which he was martyred can be seen in a sculptural depiction over the main door.
Once you have viewed the cathedral you should visit its underground treasury, the Museo del Tesoro di San Lorenzo. Among the treasures on display are a bowl claimed to be the Holy Grail, a lovely Byzantine cross, a highly decorated coffer used to to carry the prized saintly ashes in procession around Genoa and a platter said to have been the one used to present John the Baptist's head.
Galleria Nazionale di Palazzo Spinola
As you pick your way through crowds, the old centre can appear run-down and shabby, but when you lift up your eyes and look around, it's clear that many of the buildings here are actually - or were once - very grand indeed. Palazzo Spinola is one of these elegant palazzi, right in the heart of the maze of lanes. The building dates to 1593, and passed through the hands of some of Genoa's leading aristocratic families. Nowadays it houses an art gallery with paintings, frescoes, ceramics and furniture.
The palace is interesting for the illustration it gives into patrician life in Genoa; the opulent style of living and art-collecting of the city's noble families. Especially on the upper floors, where there were living quarters and a kitchen (safer than the ground floor, given the risk of fire), and where you can glimpse the windows of other neighbouring buildings, you can get a sense of how the most privileged of Genoa's population would have lived. This is given added piquancy by the gloomy alleys, bustling lanes, trading and prostitution going on nearby as it presumably has done throughout the palace's history.
Waterfront - Porto Antico
Down by the rejuvenated Porto Antico (Old Port) are a number of attractions for all the family, including the Aquarium, which, along with the UNESCO listing, is Genoa's proudest attraction, and where visitors can admire sharks and dolphins up close. Nearby is the Bigo, a panoramic lift on a crane, designed by local star architect Renzo Piano. Most of the newer attractions here are expensive, but you can buy combined 'Acquario Village' tickets; expensive but worth doing if you want to visit several sights. The ticket also offers discounts in shops and cafes and a free ride on a mini-train which links the Aquarium-operated attractions. There's a useful tourist information kiosk by the Porto Antico where you can pick up information and book guided tours of the city centre; this is a good way of getting to know Genoa.

New Town'
Via Garibaldi from above
Rather confusingly, Genoa's 'New Town' is no longer new at all. During the 16th and 17th centuries, town-planners built spacious elegant streets just above the crowded old town. Subsequently Genoa has expanded up the steep slopes and along the coast around the original harbour area. The 16th and 17th-century areas are a calm contrast to the narrow lanes of the old town and commerce of the Porto Antico. Via Garibaldi (originally called Strada Nuova) is the highlight of the New Town and is a sedate tourist thoroughfare. The other streets of the centre have the disadvantage of traffic but the advantages of public transport and a more familiar city centre feel, with high street shops, a theatre and museums.
Genoa's prized UNESCO World Heritage listing is for this early example of town-planning, and for the 'Palazzi dei Rolli'. These buildings were part of a scheme where the resident noble families, would be responsible for hosting visiting foreign dignitaries. Most of these palaces can only be viewed from the outside, though three on the narrow, palace-lined Via Garibaldi, are now art galleries.
Musei di Strada Nuova
The Aquarium is the big catch-all tourist attraction of Genoa, but the most important destination for art-lovers is the string of three palaces on Via Garibaldi grouped together as the Musei di Strada Nuova. In Italy the word palazzo is not quite equivalent to palace: it can refer to any large building. The Genoa palazzi, though, are grand enough to lay claim to the English translation.
Musei di Strada Nuova, Genoa
There's a shop and ticket office on Via Garibaldi where you buy a combined ticket for the three palaces. Palazzo Rosso is the first, with a collection of art including family portraits by Van Dyck. Like many of Genoa's historic buildings, the Palazzo Rosso was damaged by bombing in the Second World War, and rebuilt to its original plan. Don't miss the top floor 'flat' (which makes you want to live there) and the lift up to a tiny roof terrace with an amazing view - and try not to be distracted by the plentiful staff, who seem bossy and very keen that visitors should follow the 'correct' (though not clearly indicated) route around the museums. Palazzo Bianco is a serious art gallery with some fine works including a Crucifixion by Filippino Lippi and paintings by Rubens, Caravaggio, Veronese and Ligurian artists. Visitors will find their own favourites among the excellently displayed paintings; mine were some lovely female saints by Spaniard Francisco Zurburán, who seems to have been primarily interested in the fabrics of their gowns. If you are interested in textiles, ask the way to the DVJ (Damasco Velluto Jeans) exhibition and study centre, a collection of historic fabrics. A garden terrace connects Palazzo Bianco with Palazzo Tursi, now the town hall. Here you can see Paganini's violin 'il Cannone' and collections of ceramics and coins.
You'll probably want refreshments after all the art-concentration. There's a good choice of cafes on Via Garibaldi, some with tables outside. I ate in the Caffe dei Musei, a modern-design cafe offering cheap light lunches (I enjoyed pennette alla Norma for €4.50).
Palazzo Ducale
Just uphill from the cathedral, this monumental building was the palace of the Doge of Genoa, the city's ruler. Nowadays it houses exhibitions and events; there is usually an interesting choice of things to see, from free photography exhibitions to major art shows. There is a Jazz Museum and even a 'Poetry room'. If you're looking for entertainment or just a place to get out of the rain, you'll probably find something to look at in the Palazzo Ducale. A full list of events is published on the official website (see links panel).
One side of the palazzo opens on Piazza de Ferrari; the main, 18th-century, façade is in Piazza Matteotti, decorated by stone figures in chains which represent the vanquished opponents of mighty Genoa. The origins of the building lie back as far as the 13th and 14th centuries, but it was altered, amplified and added-to up until the twentieth century. Some of the public areas can be visited, and there are organised tours of the building's historic tower and prisons.
Palazzo Reale
The Palazzo Reale ('Royal Palace') is on Via Balbi, one of the straight palazzo-lined streets of the New Town. Running from the railway station Stazione Principe towards the heart of town, this is a useful artery for tourists. From the 1820s the Palazzo Reale was the Genoa residence of the Savoia (Savoy) dynasty, who later became the monarchs of a united Italy. The former Republic of Genoa was by then part of their kingdom.
The building's most famous hall is the Galleria degli Specchi, the hall of mirrors; the building also contains an art collection. The palace doesn't boast paintings quite on a par with the Strada Nuova galleries, but it's a fairly interesting glimpse into the regal pomp and grandeur which Italy's future royal family favoured, perhaps also providing some suggestions as to why Italy's monarchy didn't last
The Bigo is a panoramic lift (elevator) by the old harbour which offers views over Genoa and its waterfront. The lift was designed by Renzo Piano and modelled on a ship's crane. It's a striking touch of modernism and a good novelty activity, offering unaccustomed views of the city. There's an Italian commentary; and the circular glass-sided lift revolves to give everyone a full 360-degree panorama of Genoa. The Bigo doesn't operate every day in winter. The long extending arms of the Bigo structure also reach out to a covered pavilion area where there is a skating rink in winter and other events throughout the year.
Make a splash
Strictly speaking, the only dolphins in Genoa are in the Aquarium, but if you head further out to the Cinque Terre (where there’s also a whale sanctuary) you’re bound to spot a couple. Generally speaking, swimming is a cinch: Genoa has a number of free beaches and, for the best ones, nip on the number 15 bus or take a train to nearby Quarto, Quinto or Nervi. Better still, hop on a boat to San Fruttuoso, a 15-minute boat ride away and visit the 12th-century abbey while you’re there.
Enjoy Sinatra’s pesto
Thirsty? Head for the Piazza delle Erbe where there are several sublime bars to choose from, or seek out a hostelry in the caruggi, such as Taggioü (Vico Superiore del Ferro 8). A leisurely walk along the Corso Italia leads to pretty Boccadasse, a little fishing village where you can watch the sun go down. There’s smart dining to be had at Muà and, of course, Zeffirino’s, where Sinatra reputedly ordered his pesto. Pesto alla Genovese should be eaten with trofie pasta – dense, carby squiggles usually mixed with slices of potato and French beans.
Join the jet set

Take the boat to delightful and discreetly flashy Santa Margherita – where Wayne and Colleen Rooney got married – or Portofino, one of the most picturesque fishing villages in the Med. If you’ve got deep pockets, stay the night at Hotel Splendido, where Richard Burton first proposed to Elizabeth Taylor. If you’re feeling the pinch, settle for a coffee in one of the chichi cafés along the harbourside and wander up to the Church of St Giorgio for lovely views over the harbour. Bliss.

Genoa may be the one city across the Italian Riviera that does not have quality beaches. If you want to focus on your tan, think about a short side visit to Santa Margherita Ligure or Rapallo, both under twenty miles east of Genoa.

Dining & Night lifeNo matter which restaurant you choose, make sure to order a dish with pesto sauce. The green sauce was born here in Genoa, and most restaurants take pride in their pestos. If you are in a hurry, pick up another Genovese specialty, focaccia bread. Cheese, olives, herbs, and vegetables are all thrown together with delicious flat bread for a real treat! Among the best spots for focaccia isLa Focacceria de Teobaldo (Via Balbi 115, 010/246-2294).

Gran Gotto (Viale Brigata Bisagno 69, 010/564-344) is the place for some of Genoa's finest pesto sauce over fresh pasta dishes. The fish soup is another favorite here. Ristorante Saint Cyr (Piazza Marsala 4, 010/886-897) serves dishes culled from local favorites, with an ever-changing menu and a festive atmosphere. Osteria Con Cucina Luchin (Via Bighetti 51, 010/301-063) is a family-run restaurant that has offered the same menu for over one hundred years. Don't miss the minestrone! Da Giacomo (Corso Italia 1) is usually packed, so call ahead for a reservation. The seafood here is probably the best in Genoa.

Genoa has a vibrant nightlife, but there is a seedier side to the city. Please be careful when walking around Genoa at night, especially women traveling alone. Mako (Corso Italia 28, 010/367-652) has an elegant piano bar, with a dance floor nearby. Caffe Nessundorma (Via Porta d'Archi 74, 010/590-982) rocks to old 70s and 80s standbys. Vanilla (Via Brigata Salerno 4, 010/399-0872) 

For the gourmet, we advise a stroll between Via San Vincenzo and Via Colombo, near Brignole Station, where you can explore a variety of bakeries, pastry shops, and food specialty shops. Not far from here is the Mercato Orientale (Oriental Market) -- enter from via Galata and via XX Settembre. This covered market is a noisy explosion of people, colors, and smells, a fabulous place to stock up on olives, herbs, fruits, and other Ligurian products (open Monday through Saturday, closed Wednesday afternoon).

Gran Gotto is where for many of Genoa's finest pesto sauce over fresh pasta dishes. The seafood soup is yet another favorite here. Ristorante Saint Cyr  serves dishes culled from local faves, by having an ever-altering menu along with a festive atmosphere. Osteria Disadvantage Cucina Luchin is really a family-run restaurant which has offered exactly the same menu for more than a century. Don't miss the minestrone. Da Giacomo (Corso Italia 1) is generally packed, contact ahead for any reservation. The sea food here's most likely the very best in Genoa.Genoa includes a buzzing life post sundown, but there's a murkier side to the port city. Be careful when travelling Genoa during the night, especially women on their own. Mako comes with a stylish piano bar, having a party area nearby. Caffe Nessundorma rocks to old 70s and 80s standby tunes.

Shopping in Genoa is rather easy. There's many top quality merchandise at fairly reasonable prices. If you're searching for leather, whether for garments or add-ons, you might want to try Pescetto. Top quality jewelry is available at Codevilla. The jewelry retailers listed here are experts at mixing gold and silver and gemstones into beautiful and different keepsakes.

In the heart of town, Pecchiolo sells ceramics and silver dishware, perfect for your forthcoming elegant social gathering. Just east from the city center is Genoa's Oriental Market. You shouldn't be misled through the moniker. "Oriental" refers that the marketplace is around the east side of town. Local retailers crowd the marketplace, offering from homemade crafts to freshly baked goods. To grow your library, get some rare first-edition prints along with other rarities at Dallai Libreria Antiquaria. You will find also two departmental stores around. Both Gold coin and La Rinascente will probably have something that you are searching for.

The main shopping corridors of Genoa are the streets that radiate out from Piazza De Ferraris. The best boutiques and fashionable shops are found on via XX Settembre, via Roma, and in the elegant Galleria Mazzini. The system of alleyways offers a huge selection of starting points for every kind of shopping: the porticos of Sottoripa, by the Old Port, have maintained the atmosphere of an old bazaar in the days when ships loaded with every kind of merchandise used to dock here: quaint shops selling spices, dried fruits, and the famous fried fish shops.

Via San Luca and via Orefici feature shops with clothing and shoes available at attractive prices. Making your way to the city center by way of via Orefici and via Luccoli brings you across little shops exemplifying the spirit of old Genoa, with its artisan studios and antique shops.Don't miss the old pastry shop Pietro Romanengo fu Stefano. This area originates from the beginning of the 19th century and has remained intact up until the present day. Here you can find Queen Elena of Savoy's famous confectionary treat, Pistachio Torrone.

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