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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Places

Things to do in and around Genoa

Genoa, the capital of Ligura, is more than the sum of its best-known parts – il porto, Italy’s most important commercial port from 1861 until after World War II, pesto (the basil-based sauce that is famous worldwide) and Piano (as in Renzo Piano, the Pritzker-winning architect who was born here and has left his mark on the city). The Genoa Boat Show held every autumn is the biggest in the Mediterranean, while other attractions include food, culture and the largest medieval center in Europe.

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Acquario di Genova (the Genova Aquarium)

This waterside wonderland is Italy’s largest aquarium and the second-largest in Europe. Allow plenty of time to enjoy the displays of 15,000 marine creatures, varied interactive experiences, special tours and a dolphin spectacle that some animal lovers may find counter-intuitive. Buying tickets online saves time at the entrance and money in your pocket.

Acquario di Genova

Area Porto Antico, Ponte Spinola

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Porto Antico

The city’s old port was renovated by Pritzker architect Renzo Piano in the 1990s so it isn’t really “antico” anymore. In addition to the Aquarium, the waterfront plaza includes the Bigo (viewing platform), the Biosfera (a botanical garden), the Galata Sea Museum (focusing on the relationship between people and oceans, with a visit to a submarine and a depiction of migration by sea), a science museum for children, a museum dedicated to illustrator and animator Emanuele Luzzati and a museum about Genoa, the oldest football club in Italy. Foodie shoppers can lose themselves in Eataly at the port.

Porto Antico

16124 Genoa

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Medieval city center

Genoa claims the largest medieval center in Europe with more than 20km of serpentine carrugi (narrow medieval alleyways) bursting with atmosphere and happily lacking in tourist crowds. Christopher Columbus was supposedly born here and some tours will take you by his restored childhood “home.” Other tours will lead you to the Cathedral, the Palazzo Ducale, and the Opera House, as well as shopping streets and museum complexes.

Medieval city center

Via al Porto Antico 2, Palazzina Santa Maria

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Saturdays and Sundays in English/Italian

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Palazzi dei Rolli (the Rolli Palaces)

A jewel of the medieval center is a group of 42 merchants’ homes dating from the 16th to18th centuries, collectively recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 2006. The name “rolli” comes from the fact that these mansions were listed on city rolls (rolli), and one was chosen at random each time a VIP came to town and needed hosting. Twice a year during “Rolli Days,” the palazzi open their doors to the public for free. Many are located on Via Garibaldi, but visitors are advised to tour them with a knowledgeable guide who can bring the past alive.

Palazzi dei Rolli

Via Garibaldi, 12r, 16124 Genova

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Botteghe Storiche (historic shops)

You can tour 32 of the historic shops of medieval Genoa in a series of five tours offered by the city’s Chamber of Commerce. The themes are food, sweets, design, artisans and pharmacies/drugstores. The food itinerary includes visits to historic butchers and purveyors of tripe, while the sweets parcours encompasses pastry makers and chocolatiers and design lovers will discover clothing, shoes and textiles. Artisans include makers of books, bottle stoppers and glass and the oldest pharmacy dates back to 1650.

Botteghe Storiche

Contact Visit Genoa in advance to arrange a tour.

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Parco di Villa Durazzo Pallavicini a Pegli

This 19th century eight-hectare park was named the most beautiful in Italy in 2017. It is organized as a theatrical experience of three “acts,” each divided into four “scenes” covering 3sq km.

Parco di Villa Durazzo Pallavicini a Pegli

Via Ignazio Pallavicini 13

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Last edited: April 11, 2018

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