After Turin, I went to Genoa on the Italian Riviera; this is another city that isn’t mentioned in Rick Steves’ “Italy” book, I don’t know how influential Steves is, but Genoa seems to be a city tourists forgot. It sprawls up the hills and down to the beach. It has museums, an aquarium, many, many churches and breathtaking views.
The fountain below is in the main piazza leading to a huge modern art museum I didn’t visit and the two churches I did visit. Genoa is a far more serious city than Turin, people rush about focused on their destination and don’t take the time to stand on sidewalks or piazzas to gossip, I didn’t see the children running about, it was a much quieter atmosphere. I stayed at the Hotel Metropoli, just around the corner from this piazza and the two big churches. It was the best staff and courteous hotel I’ve visited. All have been very good, but Hotel Metropoli was exceptional.
“Before 1100, Genoa emerged as an independent city-state, one of a number of Italian city-states during this period. Nominally, the Holy Roman Emperor was sovereign and the Bishop of Genoa was head of state; however, actual power was wielded by a number of consuls annually elected by popular assembly. Genoa was one of the so-called Repubbliche Marinare along with Venice, Pisa, and Amalfi. Trade, shipbuilding, and banking helped support one of the largest and most powerful navies in the Mediterranean. There is an old saying that says: Genuensis ergo mercator which means “Genoese therefore merchants” but the Genoese were skilled sailors and ferocious warriors as well. In 1098, it is said the ashes of John the Baptist, now the patron saint of the city, arrived in Genoa.
“With the shift in world economy and trade routes to the New World and away from the Mediterranean, Genoa’s political and economic power went into steady decline. Genoa collapsed during the Raid on Genoa in 1793 and the Battle of Genoa in 1795 where they fought the French fleet and the English. In 1797, under pressure from Napoleon, the Republic of Genoa became a French protectorate called the Ligurian Republic which was annexed by France in 1805.”
We see that sharp and sudden decline in several lovely Italian towns, because of it, the towns seem to be frozen in time so visiting them is like going back to a time of faith and of a simpler life. Genoa is a mixture, there is preserved antiquity but also very modern industry.
This is the inside of the remains of a castle parapet, the opening is for a weapon that can be aimed at anyone attempting to attack the castle. From the other side, it’s a barely visible slit in the wall.
We see Roman ruins everywhere we turn, from bits of remaining fortifying walls, tall towers like these to narrow, twisting streets.
In America, Genoa is probably best known as the home of Christopher Columbus, the castle parapets above still stand next to Columbus’ childhood home, pictured below.
A little fireplace, I believe it was used for cooking.
The house is very tiny and essentially vertical so you must climb steep narrow stairs to go from room to room.
These examples of 15th Century clothing were in the dark at the top of the stairs, I almost fell down the steps, they startled me so much.
Columbus sailed out of the Port of Genoa when he began his adventure that eventually led him to the North American continent.
A sign at the Port of Genoa
Genoa also has beautiful beaches and sweeping panoramas.
The bubble near the center is a ride that will take you up above the city, then the bubble slowly rotates 365 degrees so you get a sweeping view of the entire region.
Pont Reale at the Pier, I believe this might be the customs office.
They still honor Christopher Columbus; these aren’t statues, they’re paintings.
Outside the Duomo, or the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, I took this picture of a statue sitting on the piazza, I thought it was interesting modern art. Then a group of school kids ran up to it and started talking to it; it spoke back and posed in different poses for the children!! A man painted himself this way and then sat perfectly still for hours with a matching collection basket sitting in front of him. What a refreshing and clever way to ask for money, far better than the roaming hawkers following you and asking you to buy an umbrella, a spinner or souvenir.
They have a famers’ market one day each week
I’ve never seen such young artichokes and never presented this way. Genoese love artichokes.
They were eagerly awaiting a visit from Pope Francis, I was grateful I missed it, Genoa would not have been the same with the hordes of crowds Papa Francesco draws to himself. It says he’ll be there Sunday, May 27 at 5:30 PM
Yes, Italians still have telephone booths; they pop up everywhere although I never saw one being used, it seems that every other person has a cell phone to his/her ear or is staring at it intently.
This life size statue of Elvis is situated just below the two ancient Roman towers pictured above; Genoa is a blend of the very old and the modern.
Genoa is beautiful and interesting, and it’s delightfully almost tourist free, but there are probably better places to visit in Italy.