As the capital city of an ancient maritime republic, Genoa offers sea views and historic buildings, all in fantastic condition since the city was designated the European Capital of Culture in 2004.
The port of Genoa, like Arles and Saint Remy, is breathtaking. For me, it was a fairyland city, and one I can hardly wait to revisit.
As the capital city of an ancient maritime republic, Genoa offers sea views and historic buildings — one of them said to be the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.
The supposed birthplace of Christopher Columbus.
We started our tour with Costa Pacifica at the Castelletto, one of the most prestigious quarters in Genoa. It is elevated above the city over the downtown district. This means it has views of the old city center and the ocean.
One of the homes on the Castelletto and the view.
The Castelletto is connected to the lower town by an historical lift called Montegalletto's Elevator. The street Via Garibaldi, also known as New Street, awaits at the bottom. This street is described in a city plaque:
“One of the most significant urbanite and architectural expressions of the 16th century is Via Garibaldi. One can visit its beautiful palaces that give a good indication of Genoa’s economic and political power in this period. These palaces now contain the most important of Genoa’s museum, banks and public institutions. The famous painter, Rubens, came to Genoa in 1622, drew the plans and elevations of the most important palaces and published a book to act as a model for new palaces of rich important people in Antwerp.”
At that time, Peter Paul Rubens described Via Garibaldi as “the most beautiful street in Europe.” He surely can’t be far off. There is so much that excites and delights the eyes that it is difficult to walk on this street without wanting to stop at every shop and residence to examine it further.
Though the buildings were constructed in the 16th century, they were magnificently refurbished in 2004 when Genoa was designated the European Capital of Culture along with the French city of Lille.
The entrance to the Via Garibaldi.
We did stop at the Palazzo Rosso. Little did I expect the quality of artwork that was inside. There were masterpieces by Paolo Veronese, Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri), Bernardo Strozzi, Grechetto (Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione), Giovanni Bernardo Carbone, Anthony Van Dyck, Albrecht Dürer and many others.
The building itself, from the 16th century, is opulent and retains much of its original atmosphere. There are also two terraces that offer an excellent view over the medieval city center.
For lack of time, we did not stop at the Palazzo Bianco, also built in the 16th century and a civic museum since 1892. It is just across the street from the Palazzo Rosso and is equally endowed with old masters.
The Palazzo Rosso is named after the red color of the exterior, plus the view inside looking out and the Chinese porcelain found inside the palazzo.
In proceeding to the old port, we passed by the Genoa Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Saint Lawrence. It is thought to have been started in the fifth or sixth century AD. There are walls from Roman times under the pavement in areas surrounding the Cathedral. The funds to build this church came from the successful Genoese navies used in the Crusades.
The Genoa Cathedral and a close up of the detail.
Our last stop was the old port in the lower part of the old town where there is an outdoor shopping area and a replica of a 17th century Spanish galleon, the "Neptune." It was built in 1985 for Roman Polanski's film Pirates.
The port and the ship replica.
Within Genoa there are 121 attractions according to Travel Advisor. In addition, there are day trips outside the city that can be taken, often with easy access on the train. For me, at least a week in Genoa would have been more appropriate than the one day we had available.
Websites of Interest for Genoa: