Sometimes overshadowed by the popularity of world famous cities like Rome and Venice, Genoa nevertheless is one of Italy’s true hidden gems. As the capital city of the Liguria region on the northwest coast of Italy, Genoa is most associated as the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. However, this old-world city should also be noted for boasting Europe’s largest historic center and largest aquarium.
Genoa is a classic Italian city incorporated amid rolling hills with houses of pastel colors and terra cotta roofs all mixed in with stunning churches, hanging gardens, Baroque palaces and crumbling Roman ruins. The city’s shining crown is its historic center, which features narrow, winding streets that reveal surprising gems at every turn like marvelous architecture and artistic treasures. Charming boutiques offer exciting shopping choices while cafes and restaurants entice passersby to come in and savor Genoa’s distinct flavorful dishes of pesto and focaccia.
At the base of the city center is the historic seaport, which dates back centuries as an important trade hub. Docked with cruise liners, yachts, ferries and fishing boats, Genoa’s seaport today sports a trendy renovation of new features such as a bustling marina, waterfront bars, luxurious seaside villas, a maritime museum, movie complex and the Aquarium of Genoa.
A few must-do activities in Genoa include browsing the lively Mercato Orientale market held inside the stone walls of an old monastery,and viewing the Mediterranean Sea from the La Lanterna lighthouse.
Genoa is easily reached by train from Rome, Milan, Tuscany and Turin as well as buses and ferries. Driving is not recommended as parking places are nearly impossible to find in the city.