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Genoa - Centro Storico

Genoa Harbor

Genoa - Piazza de Ferrari

Click on any image for a larger view

The God Janus

Genoa Cathedral

Genoa - Porto Antica

Teatro Felici, Genoa

For more information about tourist attractions in Genoa visit the
Genoa Tourist Bureau

History of Genoa and
World Fact Book

Genoa - reclining nude in the sun

Welcome to the City of Genoa
from Jesse's journeys in Italy

620,316 (2004)
Official website:
Wikipedia: Genoa
Maps: MapQuest

Genoa, with a present day population of about 650,000, is allegedly named after a mythical two-headed Greek God, Janus, protector of ships, befitting its historic and continuing role as an important maritime center.  Alternatively, presumably because of the city's location, the name derives from a Ligurian tribal word, for "knee" (genu), or the Latin name for gate, "janua".

The city rests at the foot of mountains in the Gulf of Genoa at the most northerly end of the Tyrrhenian Sea, where at one time it ruled the maritime world, ahead of Venice and Amalfi, it's two closest rivals.  Genoa reached its zenith in the late 13th Century, but it remains a principal Italian port and center of industry and commerce.

The city was destroyed in 205 BC by Carthage, but was rebuilt by the Romans.  At one time or another it has been controlled by France, Milan, Austria, and Sardinia.  It was merged, as part of Liguria, into the country of Italy in 1861.

Christopher Columbus (born 1447),whose "discovery" of America was financed by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, learned his shipping basics here, as did many lesser fishermen, naval commanders, explorers, and crusaders.

Genoa, as evidenced by its historical and modern day cultural facilities, was also the most important political and cultural center on the Italian Riviera.  One of its most famous sons is  Nicoḷ Paganini, born 1782, the renowned  composer, violinist and guitarist.

The Old Quarter of Genoa, is especially enthralling for those who like to explore. It is best to travel on foot through the narrow streets (called carruggi) which are meticulously kept, as are the expansive palazzi (mansions) of medieval merchants which line them.  Around the Palazzo Reale, many shops sell Turkish carpets and the best of silk - an eloquent testimony of Genoa's past links with Asia.

Genoa has fine examples of Roman and Baroque Church architecture. The Palazzo Ducale is another regal structure, now used for exhibitions, and if you are lucky to arrive at the right time, the occasional concert as well.

The Via Garibaldi, also known as the Strada Nuova, will leave you exhausted as you encounter and absorb its many art treasures.  You might spend the rest of your life scouring museums across the world, and yet not see the quality and numbers of paintings by Rubens, Memling, Van Dyck and others, that adorn the interiors of the Galleria di Palazzo Bianco.

The original waterfront or Porto Antico is also full of atmosphere and they are many bars and restaurants where one can watch the world go by. The 16th century lighthouse, the Lanterna, which rises over 120 meters (325 steps!) above the sea, can be seen 50 kilometers away, and has guided mariners to the port for 100s of years.

The waterfront is a good place to sample local cuisine at affordable prices. Ample portions of vegetables and a predilection for fresh fish (low in cholesterol!) make the fare a delicious but nutritionally wise choice.  Some might find the liberal use of olive oil is somewhat overstated!  Try any of the local pastas, but do not leave town without having at least one dish made with a pesto sauce - from fresh basil - a tangy sauce that originates in the city, and was once consumed by sailors to prevent scurvy.

The Genoa Aquarium is renowned for both its collection and for its use of multi-media technology to give visitors a real-life expose of life beneath the sea. Aquatic life from both off the Italian coast as well as from distant waters graces this institution with their hallowed presence. One gets a feeling for the enormous diversity of life and biological forms that swim and live below the placid waters to which we are accustomed. The building is itself a magnificent and modern structure and the lay-out designed for unrushed hours of viewing pleasure.

The county-side surrounding Genoa is just as rich in natural, agricultural, and scenic splendor as Genoa is in  man-made works. If you have a car you can easily find secondary roads to lead you in and out of the city, but the countryside  is also well-connected by an efficient rail and bus system if you don't have wheels.

The Portofino National Nature Park is just 10 miles away and there are scores of quality villages around to be explored. There is plenty of scenic if rugged hiking around and wildlife-spotting opportunities.

You can find many good (and many not so good) hotels in Genoa, some offering stunning views from their mountain top redoubts.  You will remain in easy distance of the major attractions and amenities of the city.

Or, you can find accommodation outside the city, at a smaller inn or hotel, or at an Agriturismo - small farm hotels where, on a seasonal basis, you can even participate in real old fashioned farm work: picking grapes or olives, or hoeing a row or two of vines.

Whether your stay in Genoa, or in the countryside nearby, if you remain open to the experience of an ancient city that has slowly transformed itself into a modern maritime and industrial center, you will enjoy the city.  A guarantee from VisitsItaly!

By Dr. Satya Banerji edited by Vian Andrews, Dec 30, 2005

Liguria Region

44°24′39″N, 08°55′56″E


Savona - 49 km
Levanto - 85 km
Monterosso Al Mare - 94 km
Lerici - 111 km
San Remo - 146 km
Milano - 146 km
Lucca - 162 km
Pisa - 170 km
Torino - 170 km
Monaco - 181 km
Nice - 193 km


Genoa itself has no dearth of accommodation and can suit most preferences and almost all budgets.

Columbus Monument, Genoa