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Harbor at Savona

Interior of the Sistine Chapel at Savona

The castle at Savona

Welcome to Savona
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 62,000 (2003)
Official site:

When it comes to first impressions Savona may not win any prizes. However don’t allow the sprawling port and the somewhat drab outskirts to put you off. For if you are brave enough to take the plunge then you will be rewarded with an appealing city rich in history and well worth taking time out to visit.

Savona has a long and fairly brutal past, in part due to its proximity to Genoa which has ensured a continual rivalry between the two cities.  It also suffered heavy bombing in World War II and today’s Savona is the result of significant rebuilding. However despite all of this, the city is now one of Italy’s largest ports and exports many products to both the UK and the US, including amongst other things, Italian cars. 

If you move away from the port you will find much of the medieval centre still remains.  The main focus is on the impressive Priamŕr fortress. This vast stronghold overlooks the sea and was built in the 16th century by the Genoese. Today you will find that it is also home to a number of museums, an art gallery and even a hostel.

As you stroll around the narrow streets of Savona you cannot fail to notice a number of towers lining the skyline.  Perhaps the most impressive is the 14th century La Torretta. The tower is thought of by the locals as the symbol of Savona and enjoys a strategic position at the entrance to the harbour.  Equally noticeable are the towers of le Torri del Brandale, in the heart of the old town.

Savona has also achieved fame due to the fact that it has provided Italy with two popes. In 1471 Francesco Della Rovere became Pope Sixtus IV and in 1503 Giuliano, his nephew became Pope Julius II. Interestingly it was Pope Sixtus who commissioned the Sistine Chapel to be built (and which was named after him, as its founder) and Pope Julius who commissioned Michaelangelo to paint the Chapel’s famous ceiling.

Evidence of Pope Sixtus IV remains in Savona today as the city possess its very own Sistine Chapel (Cappellas Sistina) which is part of the cathedral. Pope Sixtus ordered it to be built as a memorial to his parents and it was finished in 1605.

History aside, Savona is also a modern and practical city with a good selection of shops, restaurants and bars. Of course for those looking for a more laid back pastime there are plenty of fine beaches in and around the city if you fancy taking things a little easier.

Although Savona may lack some of the charm of the smaller towns along this stretch of coastline, it does provide a good stop and an interesting alternative to Genoa. Savona has a rich and varied history in which to immerse oneself as well as some interesting museums. Alongside this is a modern and comfortable city where you should find it no problem to relax.

Article by Gill Clark, Dec 13/05

Liguria Region

Cinque Terre

44°18′N 8°29′E



By Car:  From Genoa head west on the A10 or the  S1 coast road approximately 48 km  Train/Bus: Trains and buses run along the coast to Savona from Genoa.  By Air: Genoa airport


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The Torretta clock tower in Savona