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Der Piazza de Ferrari in Genua, Bild: Garsya / shutterstock

Genoa – the proud one

Last year, Genoa made negative headlines due to the collapse of the Morandi Bridge. For many visitors who travel on by ferry, it is considered a noisy, dirty port city. But the capital of Liguria does not deserve this verdict. The inhabitants of Genoa call their hometown “La Superba”, the proud one. And rightly so. The city has a lot to offer.

The second largest old town and aquarium in Europe

Genoa Port
View of the port of Genoa, Image: saiko3p / shutterstock

The narrow coastal strip between the Riviera and the Apennines mountains was already settled in ancient times. The first sailors recognized the value of the natural harbor and settled here. Among other things, a Greek cemetery from the 4th century was found during excavations. Over the centuries, the settlement grew into a city. Today, Genoa stretches 35 kilometers along the coast and stretches up into the hills.

The old town of Genoa is the second largest in Europe after Rome. With its palazzi from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, it bears witness to the former wealth of the powerful seafaring nation when the Republic of Genoa was still an independent city-state. It is worthwhile to simply stroll through the narrow streets and let the buildings from different centuries work their magic on you. Part of the old town has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Birthplace Christopher Columbus
The birthplace of Christopher Columbus, Image: KELENY / shutterstock

One of the most famous seafarers was born in Genoa: Christopher Columbus. It is not historically certain whether he was really born in the house that is now designated as his birthplace. However, a visit to the museum that is housed in it and in which writings and memorabilia of Columbus are exhibited is worthwhile. Not far from the birthplace is the Porta Soprana, a medieval city gate that is now one of Genoa’s most important sights.

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On the hill of San Benigno stands another landmark of the city. The lighthouse received its present form as early as 1543. It has two viewing platforms that offer a magnificent panoramic view of the mountains, sea and the city. At 76 meters, it is one of the highest in Europe.

Over the centuries, over 30 churches have been built in Genoa. The main church of the city is the Cathedral of San Lorenzo. It was consecrated in 1118, but the construction work dragged on until the 14th century. It therefore combines Romanesque and Gothic elements in its architecture.

But Genoa doesn’t just have old buildings to offer. In 1992, the Expo took place in Genoa, and in 2004 it was the European Capital of Culture. In the course of these events, the Old Harbour in particular was transformed into a cultural centre with museums and event rooms.

Genoa Marina
Image: Garsya / shutterstock

Among the museums, the aquarium stands out. 70 tanks and over 400 animal species make it the largest in Europe. In addition to fish and other sea creatures, you can also observe amphibians, manatees and penguins. In another room, the hummingbird room, which was modelled on the South American rainforest, the exotic birds and butterflies live. The Biosphere Department is home to chameleons, butterflies and other exotic plants. The petting zoo is particularly exciting for children, where it is possible to pet fish.

Culinary

Cathedral of Genoa,
The Cathedral of Genoa, Image: Sergey Dzyuba / shutterstock

Like every Italian city, Genoa has its special specialties. And as usual for Italian cuisine, Genoese cuisine also impresses with simple ingredients that are combined to create delicious dishes.

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Made with olive oil, basil, grated cheese, pine nuts and garlic, Pesto alla Genovese is world-famous. The basil grown in Liguria is considered the best in the world. Traditionally, the pesto is eaten with Trofie or Trenette, but it also tastes delicious with other types of pasta.

Focaccia is often referred to as the pizza of Liguria. In Genoa, the tradition of dough cakes made from yeast dough goes back to the 16th century.

Of course, fish and seafood also play an important role in the cuisine of the port city.