Genoa’s Beautiful Ancient City

It’s difficult not to be envious of the Italians: they’ve got beautiful cities and great food in every corner of their country. It’s frustrating, and what’s worse is you can’t be particularly angry at them for not appreciating their country – they do; the Italians are immensely proud of their cultural heritage and their cuisine. Bastards.

Genoa’s just another one of those beautiful, ancient, well-preserved, great-to-visit cities that appear to be around every corner in Italy, and, like all of the others, any traveller should visit at the first opportunity. Again, with most of these cities, half of the attraction is not the sights in themselves, but the entire city in itself: the whole place is an attraction, and everybody knows it. The site of Genoa probably originated as a trade base for the Phoenicians in about 1000BC, but came into prominence 500-or-so years later when the harbour encouraged an ancient Greek city to spring up under the name of Stalia.

what to see in genoa

After the fall of Rome, Genoa became a city-state republic and the excellent harbour encouraged trade and commerce, making Genoa one of the richest cities of the Middle Ages. This is reflected in the enormous construction projects that occurred at the time. Genoa battled its major rival, Venice, throughout the middle ages; but steadily lost it’s place in the world after the Black Death was imported into Europe in 1347. After being conquered and claimed by various other countries, Genoa finally found its place in the modern world with the formation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. Before that, though, Genoa had a hero, and we all love hero stories, don’t we? Here it is.

3 days in genoa

Sights in Genoa, apart from, well, the entirety of the old city, include various Cathedrals and the must-sees Piazza de Ferrari and the Galleria Nazionale. The Gallaria was once the home of one of Genoa’s most powerful families, the Spinolas. It’s packed full of Renaissance art and is a stunningly beautiful building. They just don’t make family dynasties like they used to, do they? Other sights include The Museo delle Culture del Mondo, which houses various curiosities that the Italian traveller Capitano Enrico D’Albertis brought back from his expeditions, including a stuffed platypus and a piece of the Great Wall of China. I’m always very admirable of these first travellers – it was a lot harder to get around then than it is now, and I always wonder what adventures they got up to.

what to eat in genoa

What else is there? Oh, yes, of course, the food. Italian food’s always good, wherever you go, but Genoa has a few quirks that makes it special. Unlike the south of the country, where pizza rules the roof, here pasta’s a favourite, and they make fresh pasta here perfectly. Other dishes that everyone should try are the stockfish soups and pastas that are common here. The walnut sauce that’s popular in the region is delicious, too, and it doesn’t get any better than when it’s using Italian walnuts.

genoa best place to visit

Whatever you do in Genoa, make sure to visit the Teatro della Tosse, where Casanova once stood. It’s a lovely building, but then again, you’re in Italy. Every building’s lovely. I’ve tried, and I can’t stop being jealous of the Italians, even if I can’t justify it into something else. So now they’ve made me feel bad, too. Double bastards.

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