Its always a pleasure to leave town and head somewhere new. This time, we decided to go to Genova, located only 90 minutes away from Milan, in the heart of the region of Liguria. Along Milan and Turin, the city forms the Industrial triangle of west-northern Italy, one of the most important economic centers of the country. The city is the sixth biggest in Italy and it has by far, its biggest port.
The nickname of the city is la superba or “the proud one” due to the huge achievements and impressive past they have. When I got there I knew nothing about it, but after 3 days I left absolutely amazed with its rich history. Just FYI, Genova its the home of Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of America and also has been European Capital of Culture (2004).
So, as soon as we got the train in Centrale, we reached Porta Principe -one of the main stations of the city- in just an hour and a half. The good thing about the beautiful flat we got, was how close it is to the station, meaning we could just walk along the harbor enjoying the warm weather.
The first day, we grabbed a few brochures, charged our phones and left to discover every single inch of the city.
I have to tell you something straight away: Genova contains several cities within. You have the beautiful and modern harbor, tiny streets that resemble a maze, huge skyscrapers, old streets that take you back a few centuries and also hills that resemble Valparaiso in Chile. At some point we were really surprised with the landscape. After crossing a single street, it seemed we were somewhere else. Everything looked different, not better or worse, just different. And I loved it.
Génova, Liguria. pic.twitter.com/8nwTxSqOzd— Cristián (@lavozdecristian) March 16, 2014
The first day we went to la Viletta Di Negro, a quiet hill in the heart of the city with a waterfall on top. There, you have a viewing point in which you could spot the downtown and the sea. There, you also have the Oriental Art Museum and lots of kids doing sports and other activities outdoors.
After that, we decided we wanted to visit the UNESCO World Heritage List of palaces. I can't lie; it was HARD to find viale Garibaldi and start the tour. Even though we were there several times there, the city manage to “hide” the street from us.
What is the "Strada Nuova" and why its UNESCO heritage? Just take a glimpse at this extract taken from the official website.
In July 16th 2006 ”Genova: le Strade nuove e il sistema dei palazzi dei Rolli” became inscribed as a World Heritage Site. It preserves a unitary urban framework of the late-Renaissance and Baroque periods of more than 100 palaces of the noble families of Genoa. The grand residences, each one with its own architectural solution and individual character, were part of an official list (the Rolli) and randomly chosen to host visitors of the State. The palazzi, often erected on sloping ground, feature an atrium-courtyard-grand staircase-garden sequence and a wealth of internal decoration. They represent a specific social and economic identity which marked the beginning of the modern era of urban architecture in Europe.
I have to tell you the buildings are beautiful. No wonder why they are World Heritage sites. Every building has a tremendous story and the county makes sure they look clean and graffiti free. It will take you around 30 minutes to see the 42 buildings (if you decided to enter them, you can buy a 24 (€12) or 48 (€16) hours card that will grant you full access)
The next day, we went to the Palazzo Ducale, a huge structure in the heart of the city in which you have museums and cultural activities. Lucky for us, there was a huge Edvard Munch exhibition, the norwegian famous artist. There were also a NatGeo picture exhibit and other several activities. I wish we had time enough, but visiting #MunchGenova was truly awesome (I couldn't help but to think about how miserable artist’s life most of the times are).
Right after that, we headed the replica of Christopher Columbus house. The original one was destroyed during the first world war. The Columbus House is located in downtown Genoa, Vico Dritto di Ponticello, just off the Porta Soprana Medieval Gates and within walking distance from Piazza De Ferrari, Via Dante, and Via XX Settembre.
I have to admit that the house its quite simple. For such a huge person, you could expect something...bigger, but the house looks small and its unnoticed by most tourist, which is a shame. Still, I'm truly glad I was there. A landmark on our history.
The day was ending, but we decided to get lost walking in the harbor. The whole place its truly beautiful. You have several cruises, boats and ships in the docks. The Genova Aquarium is also there; huge and by far one of the highlights of the city.
Right next to it, you can also find the biosphere, a rather huge circle that simulates several types of weathers artificially.
During our final day, we decided to take a boat and view the dolphins and the whole docks surrounding the city. I think this is the first time in my life that I see dolphins. It was quite amazing actually and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.
In the afternoon, we walked in the Porto Antico, a huge structure filled with warehouses that have been recovered and rebuilt into concept stores, restaurants and several attractions that make the harbor come alive specially at night.
At the end of our third day, we were tired but quite happy with the visit to Genova. The city is absolutely eclectic, attractive and interesting. Even though some streets can look really creepy at night, it is a must if you come to Italy. You will feel in several places at the same time, all of them attractive in their own unique way.