Genova, La Superba
Genova is one of those incredible cities that gets underskin and makes you ask yourself why you never visited before. Capital of a glorious maritime empire, Genovesi set sail from this busy port city to discover the world, but it’s reputation as “la Superba”, the proud, means the city and her residents will never brag. Instead, they’ll leave it up to its victorious maritime history and impressive landmarks to let you know how truly great it is…
What to do and see
Start from the Centro Storico, approximately a 280 acre spread that is one the most extensive medieval historic centres in Europe. A maze of caruggi (alleys and sidestreets) that surprisingly arrive at piazze lavish with churches and palazzi, this once-upon-a-time maritime capital’s historical centre is a jewel to discover. Admire sites including Piazza de Ferrari and Palazzo della Borsa (the original Stock Exchange) and the iconic Teatro Carlo Felice.
Via Garibaldi, la “Strada Nuova”– UNESCO heritage site, step back in time when wealthy merchants made Genova shimmer in style and visit the historic museum, Musei di Strada Nuova, which features three distinct palaces, Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Doria Tursi, all of which contain important art collections and masterpieces spanning the centuries including Niccolò Paganini’s violin and a couple of Caravaggio’s Ecce Homo, for good measure.
Lantern Rising 77 metres high, the historic Lanterna di Genova is one of the most important lighthouses in Italy. Since the late 13th century, the Lantern has been a symbol of welcome home for sea traders, and more recently those arriving by air to the maritime city.
Cattedrale di San Lorenzo Once the epicentre for all political and religious happenings in the Genovese Republic, the Cathedral of San Lorenzo is also home to a treasure trove of the city’s most spiritual artifacts including the Sacro Catino, the Cassa Processionale di St. John the Baptist and the Cross of the Zacharia.
Ascensore del Castello Ride the lift up to what was once the Fortress of Castelleto and take in the seafaring city’s medieval towers, Baroque domes and lush parks from this suspended balcony offering panoramic views of the historic port.
Porto Antico Soak up the heart and soul of Genova in the Porto Antico waterfront piazza, where all the city’s action takes place, from dining outlets to special events to shows to sporting activities.
Cimitero di Staglieno An open air museum, the city’s Staglieno cemetery is home to the Cappella dei Suffragi monument (a Pantheon look and feel, if you will) and is the final resting place for many of Italy’s Risorgimento heroes, in addition to hosting 19th and 20th century Ligurian artwork and boasting many a gallery and colonnade.
Acquario Located in Genova’s Porto Antico (the Old Port), the Acquario is the largest aquarium in Europe and definitely the most famously designed. Channelling the look of a dramatic ship heading out to sea, the city’s prodigal designing son, Renzo Piano, did the honours.
Galata Museo del Mare A shining star in the seaport, the Galata museum has something for everyone – a vast collection of historical vessels, maritime antiques and all the intel on how the Republic of Genoa built and sailed its own fleet, as well as bits for all those submarine aficionados.
Museo della Storie del Genoa Genoa CFC is the oldest football club in Italy, and if you can’t make it to a game, it’s worth a trip to the Genoa CFC museum at the 16th century Palazzo San Giobatta to explore the club’s 130-year scudetto-winning history.
Where to snack
Cafe Mangini Owned by the Rossignotti family since 1957, the pastry shop’s old world flair has charmed many a guest along with their delicious traditional foccaccia and sweet pastries, including the locally famous Sacripantina cake, made with layers of sponge cake soaked in maraschino and liqueur.
Klainguti Four saccharine Swiss brothers with confectioner talents came to Genova with the goal of heading across the Atlantic. Thankfully they missed the boat and locals have been reaping the sweet rewards ever since. Try the almond paste biscotti, delicate pastries and specialty cakes including Engadina, Zena and Sacripantina.
Mercato Orientale Once the site of the ancient convent of St. Augustine the Hermit, this mercato (market) boasts over 320 years of history and today, anything you might want for a quick bite including breads, cheeses, salumi, olives and other lovely treats.
Romanengo Dolcissime (sweet) recipes have been passed down for seven generations in this artisanal sweet shop founded by Pietro Romanengo in 1780. More than 230 years later, the divine confections are still handmade with patience and dedication.
Zuccotti Not exactly a coffee shop, but a historic family-owned chocolate boutique featuring incredible cioccolatini, spreads and other sugary confections
Pesto and more, restaurants not to miss
Pesto is synomous with Genova, which means you’re going to want to explore La Superba’s restaurant scene to get a taste of every variation.
Il Genovese The centurion, tradition is king here where the menu boasts many Genovese mainstays like trofie al pesto, handmade gnocchi di patate and stuffed pansoti pasta with walnut sauce, and secondi like stockfish, tripe, and homemade Cabannina meatballs (a type of Ligurian cattle).
Ristorante Santa Teresa Looking for a little elegance? Santa Teresa boasts a refined atmosphere and delicious fish and seafood, perfectly placed in the centre of the city.
Kapperi Head to the Porto Antico waterfront to enjoy the raw fish specialties of Kapperi, along with the very best catch of the day and even a few sushi bites.
Le Rune With specatcular views of the city, and a seasonal menu, Le Rune never fails to disappoint, nor does its atmosphere – fun, trendy and always a deliciously good time.
Tripperia La Casana Deep in the heart of the medieval quarter lies the intriguing Tripperia La Casana where hot tripe soup is made daily, the perfect remedy for a chilly Ligurian winter’s day.
Genova’s best street food
Farinata, focaccia and fritto are the trimverate of Genova’s street food scene. Walk the city and you’ll eventually inhale the toasty scent of farinata (a kind of pizza made with chickpeas), the salty delight of fritto and the unparalleled aroma of freshly made focaccia.
Antica Sciamadda The cripiy, salty deliciousness of a chickpea farinata cannot be beat and thanks to Antica Sciamadda’s 200 year old wood oven and copper plates, their version is extra croccante (crispy) on the top and super morbido (soft) on the bottom.
Focaccia Crispy golden plain, herbaceous with sage, a little oily with onion or olives, or dotted with cheese, la focaccia comes in all shapes and flavours in these parts. Die hard focaccia lovers know to enjoy first thing in the morning, dunked in a cappuccino. Our favourite spot? Antico Forno della Casana.
Friggitoria di San Giorgio The best fried seafood in the city using the freshest ingredients. Make sure to order a cone of fried fish and panissa while you stroll through the city’s alleyways.
Panino con Pesce For a young, hip vibe and the freshest fish sandwich in town, head to Panino Marino. A haven for fish lovers with a smart, gourmet street food approach.
Where to aperitivo
Il Botteghino Lovely little spot for a stellar glass of vino and a nibble or two just off the magnificent Piazza delle Vigne in the heart of Genova’s historic city centre.
Les Rouges The decadence of a 16th century palazzo- complete with frescoes and a bit of crumble is the perfect setting for Les Rouges, a trio of brothers mixing up creative cocktails made with top-shelf ingredients and an interesting investment in botanicals.
Arduino 1870 The historic boutique’s original decor and signage will draw you in but what will make you stay is Arduino’s insane collection of costume jewelry, antiques and jewelry.
Costa 1939 Bespoke shirt-makers since 1939, Costa’s third generation prides themselves in their refined elegance and skill.
Dallai Antica Libreria For over eight decades, Dallai has been the destination for booklovers (and by that we mean those who love the touch and feel of bindings) and collectors of prints and maps
Drogheria M. Torielli A gem of a spot located at number 32r in via San Bernardo, Torielli’s drogheria boasts more than 500 spices, along with concoctions of every type including wonderful sweets with handwritten notes and jars of herbal teas.
Galleria Mazzini Turn of the century old world charm in this beautiful galleria of a shopping area, an antique fair is on display every Wednesday and Thursday of the month.
Il Salotto di Entrico Indulge in hand-tailored and made-to-measure dress shirts along with whimsical nautical ties at Enrico’s “living room” boutique.