The Historic City of Genoa, Italy

Natasha Blair is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers and where possible travels with her passport carrying dog, Trixie. Not a beach worshippper, she is always on the lookout for new and interesting places to visit, preferably in comfort.

The historic center of Genoa has been well preserved, and a stroll along its streets is like a tour through an outdoor museum. The city captivates with its architecture, some of which remains as it was in the 1300s when Genoa was one of the world’s biggest cities. And it is no surprise that its 42 palaces, dating as far back as the 1500s, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Genoa also has the added advantage of being a port that sits on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea.

Everything is centralized, and it is only a short walk from the train station to the main shopping street. Stop here for an espresso, a very strong coffee or a frothy cappuccino. Or wander into the covered food market, which is on your right as you walk toward the main Piazza (square). Besides vegetables, you will find stalls selling cold meats, salamis, olives and cheeses.

Since the nineteenth century, the Piazza has been the focal point of Genoa with a fountain at its center. Facing onto it is the Ducal (Duke’s) Palace, an impressive building now used for art exhibitions. Its bell tower houses the remains of what was once a prison, and can also be visited.

Similarly the opera house is also in the square, and tickets can often be bought at the last minute. The tourist office is next door.


Piazza De Ferrari (Natasha Blair)

This entire area is part of the historical city. Many of the buildings have ornate exteriors, some with colorful frescoes on their façade. The architecture, much of which dates back to the Renaissance period, has been preserved.

While the main street is wide, be sure to investigate the many side streets, some of which are so narrow that you can hardly see the sky. Here you will discover hidden-away restaurants and shops. Stop for a bowl of pasta covered with a variety of different sauces or a Genoese dish such as salted fish.

Half the enjoyment is looking through windows and open doorways to see grand interiors and courtyards. Look up as often as you can to see ceilings painted with frescoes.

The Rolli Palaces – UNESCO World Heritage Sites

In the Middle Ages, the ruling noble families lived in elegant palaces, which were also used to entertain important state visitors. Several of these are located on Via Garibaldi where a ticket allows you to visit three of them. These particular palaces unfortunately are devoid of furniture, but contain a vast collection of paintings, mostly religious, from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In the Red Palace, an elevator whisks you to the roof where you have a 360-degree view of the city.

Stroll down to the docks where, on the water, there is an authentic-looking floating galleon called the Neptune; built for the Polanski film “Pirates.”

Nearby at the Aquarium Village you can see hundreds of different fish, learn about the history of the sea, and take a tour of a submarine.


The Neptune (Natasha Blair)

Guided Tours

The information point by the Aquarium is also the meeting place for English-speaking guided tours. These feature the Historical Centre and Palaces and depart every Saturday at 10 a.m.

Useful Information

In Italy virtually everything except the restaurants closes for lunch, from 12:30-3 p.m. Some museums remain open, but it is advisable to check in advance. On Monday, many public buildings are also closed.

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Featured Image: Genoa, Italy ( Expert Tips

How To Get There: Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport (GOA) is approximately 5 miles to the city centre, and is serviced by 13 airlines, including Alitalia, British Airways, and Ryanair. However, if you’re flying from the U.S., you’re going to have to change planes in cities such as Milan, Madrid, or Paris. Our suggestion is to fly to Milan Malpensa Airport, and take the train from Milano Centrale to Genova Piazza Principe. The train ride is just under 2 hours, and one-way tickets start at 9 €. More information is available Tranitalia’s Website.
Best Time To Visit: Genoa’s peak season, like most of Italy, is the summer with its long days and pleasantly comfortable evenings, and their summers typically stretches into September. To avoid crowds, spring is the best time, especially May, when temperatures tend to peak in the low 70s and the water can be warm enough to take a dip.

Sample Fares: Fares displayed are the lowest roundtrip fares found in the last 48 hours to Milan from:
Boston — $780 Travel Nov. 29-Dec. 8
Houston — $761 Travel Nov. 8-18
New York — $592 Travel Nov. 20-Dec. 2
San Francisco — $961 Travel Dec. 6-8
Washington, D.C. — $735 Travel Nov. 13-19
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* All fares are roundtrip including all taxes and are accurate at time of publication. For updated pricing, conduct a new search on


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