As I wrote in a previous article which *alas!* came out before the “official” one, I’m taking part in the iniative by the site Trippando.it, “Giochiamo agli Insiders“. As you probably already know, this is not a travel blog, but a blog about traveling, since I live between two countries; anyway, Trippando’s idea is pretty interesting: when I talk about places, I end choosing the further ones…but my city? Genoa is beautiful, but I rarely write about it. That’s why I liked their idea: for once, let’s put some effort in talking about our very own places.
The first topic they introduced is: “Top Ten: the 10 main things to see and do in our city“.
Since I almost never talked about Genoa yet, I start from the base: I created a list of the ten main things to see in my city.
1) Piazza De Ferrari and Palazzo Ducale:
If I’d have to choose a place to represent the centre of Genoa, this would be Piazza De Ferrari for sure, the limit between the modern city and the ancient alleys, with its fountain that from time to time is coloured with different tints, and Palazzo Ducale, important heart of Genoese culture. Palazzo Ducale is the place in which are held the most prestigious exhibitions, like the one on Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera I visited some days ago.
Also: around Piazza De Ferrari you can find other historical places, as Palazzo della Borsa, Accademia Ligustica and the famous Carlo Felice Theatre.
2) Galleria Mazzini
Galleria Mazzini is an example of iron architecture: created around 1870, it was designed following the inspiration of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. One of the reasons I like it so much, other than for the obvious historical significance of the place, is that from 1926 here, during Easter and Christmas periods, is held the Book Fair. Also, if it happens that you pass around here the fourth wednesday and thursday of the month, you’ll find the Antiques Fair (exactly the one you can see in the photos).
3) Via Garibaldi:
To talk about Via Garibaldi, I could directly quote a sentance that made me and my sister agree while having a walk here and taking some photos: “to understand what this place is, you have to see it at least once”. Speakers spread soft and retrò music while you have a walk between historical buildings. Here you will see Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Rosso and some of the Rolli, the buildings which were part of the list of the most prestigious residences of the ancient Genoa. This is a UNESCO Human Heritage Site.
4) San Lorenzo Cathedral:
Incredibly ancient, dating back in its first construction at 1100 (followed by later interventions), San Lorenzo Cathedral is the most important cult place in Genoa. The facade is characterized by gothic gates and white and black stripes decoration, typical of genoese architecture. There are two bell towers, but one is incomplete because of the architect’s death. I hope to write soon an article about this place, one of my favourite in absolute because of it’s beauty and the stories tied to it.
5) The caruggi:
Genoa is a city made of contrasts: the sea and the mountains, the modern and the ancient, the open horizon and the narrow streets…
I vicoli (the alleys) are the true heart of Genoa: they are an ancient city inside the city, full of narrow paths, where the sun sometimes never arrives and thousands smells continously mix in the air. A visit to Genoa can’t miss Caruggi, these typical narrow streets, that represent the most true part of it.
Suggestion: Caruggi are beautiful, but if you go around without knowing the place, pay attention; I’m sure you’d not like to get lost in the middle of them, and some areas are dangerous, especially at night.
Sottoripa is the old porticoed street which divides caruggi from the port area. Here tyou not just meet Genoa’s past, but a piece of Italy’s history: this is actually one of the most ancient public colonnades known in the entire country.
Today, under these arcades, there’s an alternance of old small shops, among which many typical fry-shops, and ethnic food and products places.
7) Porto Antico:
Porto Antico (the “ancient port”) is another of the most important spots in the city. Once in a dangerous and semi-deserted port zone, during the Nineties it had been recovered and made a public event and entertainment area. Here you can find the famous Genoa’s Aquarium, the biggest in Italy and the second one in Europe, and also Renzo Piano’s Biosfera and the original galleon from the movie “Pirates” by Polanski.
And, last but not least, it’s beautiful at sunset:
8) La Lanterna:
Visible from Porto Antico, as well as from many other parts of Genoa and of course from the sea, la Lanterna is the symbol of the city: other than to guide mariners to the port, it’s also a piece of history for the city and the country; even in this case, Genoa has a record: Lanterna is the higher lighthouse in the Mediterranean Sea, and also the third most ancient lighthouse in the entire world still working, with its building dating back at 1543.
9) Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini:
This Villa, characterized by one of the most important european historical gardens, is not in the centre of the city, but in Pegli quarter. Anyway, if you paid attention during the last period, of course you didn’t miss my article on how to reach Pegli directly from Porto Antico with the boat 😉
My choice, between the many things I could list, went to this place because I think it’s one of the most beautiful attractions in my city. The villa is the location of the Archaeological Museum, and the wide historical park has been restored and opened to the public (unluckily a part is still missing because it’s been destroyed by vandals and it’s waiting for funds). The entrance to the park costs a little price; I’d like you to pay a visit to help the requalification and the restoration of a place that will remain for sure in your hearts.
10) Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno:
Here we are to the last place you can’t miss in Genoa. Staglieno Cemetery is, like Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini, out of the city centre; it is in Staglieno quarter, in Val Bisagno, at 15-20 minutes with the bus from Brignole Train Station. Eccoci arrivati all’ultimo luogo che vi consiglio di visitare nella mia città. Why you should visit it? Because it’s one of the most important monumental cemeteries in Europe and it has a concentration and importance of monuments and burials so high to be considered an open air museum. To help you get an idea: its size is so wide that inside there’s even a bus service. Here are buried many famous personalities, among which Giuseppe Mazzini, Edoardo Sanguineti, Fernanda Pivano e Constance Loyd (Oscar Wilde’s wife).
Some of the photos in this article are by Alessandra Agrini: we had a lot of fun going around the city with cameras, for once feeling tourists in our own places 😉