Compared to Rome or Florence, Genoa may seem like a secondary city, often overlooked on excursions to Italy. But this former maritime powerhouse has a rich history on par with the aforementioned cities, with its own impressive palazzi and frescoed churches. Many ocean liners dock at the port here, and this is the closest cruisers can get to Milan.
What We Love
Well-Priced Restaurants: You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg for lunch or dinner (even with vino); try the trenette, a worm-shaped pasta served with pesto, a Ligurian specialty.
Acquario di Genova: This aquarium (with an open-air pavilion designed by architect Renzo Piano) is among the largest in Europe. Its interactive exhibits enlighten, and tanks teem with fish and other marine animals.
Best Known For
Via Garibaldi: The palaces on this UNESCO World Heritage-recognized street are nothing short of dazzling. Many of them are private, but you can still admire the facades and meander into the courtyards for a peek.
Cattedrale di San Lorenzo: This striped-façade church, in the Gothic-Romanesque style, holds some ornate paintings and precious relics. And unlike a wander in, say, Notre Dame or St. Peter’s, you’ll rarely have to experience the jostle of the crowds.
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Who It's Best For
Architecture Lovers: A walk through Genoa is a time-lapse through history, with fine examples of art from every century (medieval, Renaissance, Baroque).
Foodies: Dishes here go well beyond the pizza and pasta. Chickpea tarts, walnut pastries, and cappon magro (a seafood and vegetable salad with herbs) are just a few of the delicacies you should try while in port.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
The Layout Can Be Confusing: Off the main axis, it’s easy to get lost in Genoa. Alleyways twist into a maze, and maps are hard to follow.
It’s a Little Gritty: Not everything is sparkling, shiny, and new here, and parts of the centro historico can be seedy.
Lisa Cheng is a New York-based writer for ShermansCruise who also writes for Travel + Leisure.