If you are looking for a relaxed, short vacation this upcoming summer, consider visiting southern Europe. Many parts of Italy, Spain and Portugal offer amazing landscapes, a long coastline, lots of culture and excellent Mediterranean cuisine. Explore the Italian harbour with me in the capital of the Liguria region - Genoa!
The historical street of Via Garibaldi
Start your tour from Via Garibaldi Street, located in the middle of Genoa’s old town. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most important streets in Genoa with various Baroque style buildings lying along it. The street was surrounded by many luxurious palaces and is now the home to a number of outstanding museums and exceptional picture galleries such as Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Spinola. In this area you can find the tourist office, the Town Hall, many banks, clubs and even brothels.
The 42 palaces
Though Genoa is not the home of the Italian Royal Family, is is one of the largest ports in Europe. The city used to be a very important trade centre with various wealthy families and royals. Among the grand 42 palaces spreading all over Genoa, one the most significant ones is the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale). A single ticket to the Palazzo Ducale, as well as other museums and monumental buildings at the Square Piazza Giacomo Matteotti costs 19 EUR (~21 USD).
Numerous churches and cathedrals
There are many medieval churches and cathedrals that are uniquely known for their complex Baroque architecture. One of the most important cathedrals is the Genoa Cathedral that was previously bombed without success by the English. A bomb launched by the British Navy fell here unexploded in 1941. Nowadays, you can still visit, see and even touch the bomb lying inside the cathedral.
The house of Christopher Colombus
When it comes to the story of Christopher Colombus, people tend to be more concerned about his journey to discover America, rather than where he comes from. In Genoa, you can have the chance to see the house he grew up in. The entrance fee is 5 EUR (about 5.5 USD). Here you can climb up the Soprana Gates to get a wonderful view of the old Genoa neighborhood.
The Mediterranean harbour with Europe's biggest aquarium
Genoa’s harbour consists of both an old and modern part, both of which are ideal for a relaxed getaway from the busy city life. The old harbour is the home to Europe’s biggest aquarium and a Neptune statue. There are many local and international restaurants to enjoy great traditional dishes, especially with seafood. One of my favourite places is the Cavour 21 located in Piazza Cavour. Here you can enjoy pasta with pesto sauce with pasta for only 6 EUR (about 6.5 USD). Keep in mind that the restaurant is only open for several hours during lunch (around 12 PM to 2 PM) and dinner (around 7 PM to 10 PM).
The panoramic viewpoint from Spianata Castelletto
Last but not least, the Spianata Castelletto is a perfect spot to view Genoa from high above. From here you will have a 360 degree view of Genoa, including the Lighthouse of Genoa and typical old colourful houses rising along the hills above the seaside. Getting here is free and accessible on foot from Piazza della Nunziata.
Explore Genoa on a budget with a free walking tour
There are plenty of ways to travel cheap in this undiscovered city. One of these is to take a private walking tour with the staff from Manena Hostel. These tours are designed to focus on Genoa’s historical, cultural and political features. Among the many free walking tours I have taken throughout Europe, this is one of the most unique tours I’ve taken as you have a very close interaction with your tour guide. Another advantage of taking a tour is to avoid getting lost! The streets in the old town of Genoa are tiny, narrow and they all look similar to brand new visitors. We went through dozens of hidden corners and historical monuments around the city, which would require years for you to figure out on your own.
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