I guess that you do not find Genoa as a very recommended tourist destination nor online nor on tourist guide, it is often left out and not considered as the same level as Florence or Venice from a cultural point of view. This is also because Genoa, unlike other tourist italian cities, after the Second World War, when the economy growth in Italy was at its peak, became an industrial center and a factory city along with Turin and Milan. Italians just came here for the sake of working and, still, nowadays people from all the nearby towns, if not even further, come here to work for factories, firms or companies. After the war, it was part of the so-called “industrial triangle” and very well known for its extreme communist spirit but Genoa is much more than just communism and factories.
How To Reach Genoa:
- It can be easily reached by train from every italian big cities such as Florence, Rome or Turin. All kinds of trains run through Genoa: from intercity to italo.
- Genoa is also provided with an aiport where the low-cost company Ryanair operates and other airlines too. It is not a very important airport so you won’t find many flights but still an option. Alternatively, you can choose Pisa and reach Genoa by train.
- There is also the chance of booking a coach; the coach company Flixbus stops in Genoa on its way to Milan/Rome.
Genoa, The Superb One
Why Genoa “The Superb One” you are all wondering now…well, I will try to sum up as best as I can its history to make you understand why Genoa earned this name. The first settlements were, of course, celtic as the north-west part of Italy was inhabitated by this people. It was founded as a fluvial port and throughout the time the power of the city grew so much that made the whole area become one of the most important harbours during the middle-age and afterwards as well. The story of the city is interwined with the stories of its proud inhabitants that were surnamed “the sea lords”. They were known for their great skill as merchants and their ferocity. In the 11th century Genoa, along with Amalfi, Pisa and Venice, were the four Maritime Republics that could rise again after pirates attacks and during one of the darkest period, that is to say the Middle-Age. They worked hard on creating their powerful fleet that even amazed the English. In the 12th century England, as well as other European countries, used to display Genoa flag whenever entering Mediterreanian sea to benefit from their protection. Thanks to its countless commecial ties, Genoa grew and colonized many territories: Canaries, England, Palestine, Iraq, etc Genoans could even face three empires, among them the Hasburgs, whose economy was controlled by Genoan banks. All of these achievements earned Genoa the surname of “La Superba” (the superb one). The worldwide-known Colombus, the one that discovered the “New World” was, indeed, from Genoa and, always from Genoa, was a group of one thousand guys that left for Sicily in order to unify Italy under one crown.
The origins of the word are hard to track down, it is said it came from a french word that came from a Spanish word that originated from an Arab word…well, I guess we cannot trust this explanation very much. Anyway Carugio comes from the ligurian dialect (and this is sure) meaning alleyway in english. There is another kind of this alleyway that is called Creuza. What is the difference? The Creuza is a narrow alleyways that ends at the sea. Carugi are omnipresent in every Ligurian villages, towns or cities but the ones in Genoa have something more special and mysterious than any others. The real city centre is, indeed, made up of these narrow alleyways full of different kinds of shops – from hairdressers to trippa sellers – and houses. There is no way to know where you are going once you have entered the intricate labyrinth of Genoa’s centre but just follow your instict. Every corner hides something: beautiful sculptures of Madonna, churches and restaurants. Another omnipresent landmark, often found on the walls of Carugi, are the anti-police and anti-capitalism writings because, as I tried to explain before, since the city was very industrial after the war, it developed a strong communist spirit. Morover in 2008 the G8 took place here and many people protested drawing the attention of the police that killed one of them.
San Lorenzo Cathedral
San Lorenzo is the main church of the city and a place to absolutely remember if you are going to lose the way in its alleyways; everytime you will try to get out, you will find yourself here. According to a legend, the nowadays San Lorenzo Cathedral was built after that Saint Lawrence stopped in Genoa on his way to Spain and was hosted in a house near where now the Cathedral is built. It was, later, enlarged thanks to the money of the Crusades. In the 13th century the building was renewed implementing the gothic style and throughout the time more and more details were added like the imposing lions placed at the entrance of the cathedral.
- Very easy to find, just near Palazzo Ducale
- Once you have reached the cathedral, you can start exploring Carugi and the real city centre
Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato
This is a real hidden gem that can only be found in this weird city. I was told about this church by my friend that discovered it after a while she started attending the university. The university, indeed, is quite near this church. She always described it “as made of gold” and “stunning” and when this summer she managed to show it to me, I must say that I totally agreed with her. The outside is rather ugly and plain but as we always say, we should never judge a book by its cover, don’t you think?! Don’t let it disappoint you and step inside, you will not regret it! The inside is truly beautiful, the pictures are rich in details and beautified with gold stuccos and marble. The frescoes even seem to be something like tridimensional. If you really are planning to visit Genoa or just passing by, please have a look here because it is really worth it!
- No entrance fee
- The church is located in Genova Principe, near the university
- If you get off at Genova Brignole, I advice you to have a stroll in the city centre and then head here passing through Genoa harbour.
Chiesa di San Donato
Another church that I found by chance wandering aimlessly in the labyrinthic streets of this city, if you ask me where the church is located, I could not even reply you because I stumbled upon it by chance xD Why did you decide to visit such a normal and plain church? Well, a sign outside caught our attention: flemish picture displayed here. Since I love flemish painters (Van Eyck for example) I definitely wanted to have a look inside and check this picture out. Surpisingly the church inside was very beautiful: there were just some rays of light created by the candles and the atmosphere was just like going back to the middle-age. A church was already here in the XI century, but the building that resembles the most the one we find nowadays was built in the XII century. The church did not go through many modifications but some parts were destroyed during the bombardments of the second wold war. And if you all are wondering if inside there was really this flemish paiting, I can honestly reply with yes and it was also very beautiful.