Travel, Sights, and History of Genova

What to See, What to Know, What to Do, in Genoa

Monument to Christopher Columbus



Most people know the aquarium of Genoa, but this is not the only attraction of the city. Truly the symbol of the city is the Lanterna, the lighthouse, but it is not the only one. The city with the largest historical center in Europe is for sure important, big, and complicated, and with these characteristics, you cannot have only one symbol. The celebrations for Christopher Columbus in 1992 were the occasion to add more interesting emblems, in particular a lift in the old port, a lift that allows tourists to have a panoramic view of the town from the seaside, and this has become one of the most famous spots in Genova.

The De Ferrari fountain is also well known by tourists. Even if Genoa technically has no center (because of a hill near the sea that didn't permit a uniform development of the city), De Ferrari square is commonly known as the center of the city and the fountain in the middle of the square is its symbol.


Piazza De Ferrari and Fountain de Ferrari, Genoa


No one can forget Garibaldi's Monument in the Quarto Zone, from where Garibaldi started his mission with 1,000 men to unite Italy in 1860. We would also like to mention a culinary symbol, the pesto alla genovese, renowned worldwide.



Who discovered America? Probably Christopher Columbus, even if someone asserts that America was already discovered before 1492. And where was he born? Probably in Genoa or near there, but Spanish people say that he was Spanish. We sincerely are not sure where he was born, but what we do know is that he, when he was young, lived in Genoa with his parents and his brother and that his uncle was the guardian of the Lanterna. Other important people from Genoa are Napoleon, that was born in Corsica just one month after Genoa gave the island to France, Giuseppe Mazzini, who organized the project to unite Italy, and the great Genovese singer Fabrizio De Andrè, whose songs were translated in many languages.

In Genoa was also born the Pope Benedict XV who in Genoa studied law. And in Genoa was Archbishop the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Genoa has also had a great dialect actor: Gilberto Govi. He is not so famous in Italy and abroad as Antonio De Curtis (Toto, from Naples), but probably he was even better than Toto. With his capacity to make you smile with simple but very moving words.

Genoa is also a city that gave to the history and to the Catholicism many saints. We can mention Santa Caterina da Genoa, Santa Virgina Centurione Bracelli, San Tommaso Reggio, and Sant'Agostino Roscelli. For Jewish history was very important Riccardo Pacifici. During the Second World War Genoa had one of the largest Jewish communities in Italy and this community had Riccardo Pacifici as Rabbi. Riccardo Pacifici accepted bravely his destiny in Auschwitz, and sadly he never came back from there, back to his community.

Going around in the most important cemetery of the city you can also meet another important person who was not Genovese but who spent a long time in Genoa: the wife of Oscar Wilde.



When you move to Genoa you should visit the building where the Major works: Palazzo Doria Tursi in Via Garibaldi. In this building you can see stones with the name of many zones of Genoa. Why is this? Because until 1929 these zones of Genoa were different towns and they became one city in 1929.

This is also the reason why in Genoa there are two monuments to Giuseppe Garibaldi: one in the "town" of Quarto where he started his mission and one in the center of the city.



Genoa has great traditions. First of all the tradition of celebrating San Giovanni Battista on June 24th when the archbishop blesses the sea during a procession with people that carry a very big Christ crucified with a weight of more or less 150kg. A similar procession can be found also in other times of the year (for example during the celebration at Acquasanta church or at Nostra Signora della Guardia).

But this is not the only tradition. Genoa has many markets especially during catholic celebrations: Santa Zita, San Pietro and Sant'Agata are the most famous markets.

Apart from these traditions, Genoa hosts every year the Salone Nautico Internazionale that calls to Genoa many people from all over the world for a great exposition of ships as, every 5 years, many people from all over the world come to see one of the greatest expositions of flowers and plants: Euroflora.

A tradition not so well known is the Confuoco: the president of the "A Compagna" association meets publicly the major as in the middle age happened every year between the bishop and the doge (the president of the genovese republic). In this occasion the major and the president of "A Compagna" set in fire some pieces of Laurus Nobilis to foretell if the new year will be good or not.



To reach Genoa you have different possibilities. Most people come to Genoa by car or by train, but there is obviously the possibility to come by ship and you can also come to Genoa by plane.

By car you can reach Genoa from France using the A10, from North using the A26, from Milan using the most ancient highway called A7 and from Rome using the A12. From Rome you can also reach Genoa by car using the SS (National Road without pay tolls) 1, a road that has a very long history. It is called Via Aurelia from the name of the Roman Emperor Aurelio and its history starts from Romans even if its track it is not exactly the same of the beginning.

But if you come to Genoa by train you can also witness some history: Genoa Principe Railway Station is one of the most ancient railway stations in Italy and it was created in the 19th century with the first track in the northern part of Italy: the track from Turin to Genoa. Genoa Principe is one of the two biggest and most important stations in Genoa (the other is Genoa Brignole, but there are more or less 20 railways stations in Genoa), and it is very well connected: France is a quick train ride, with French TGV, and there are frequent connections with Turin, Milan, Rome and trains that can take you directly from and to the southern part of Italy and in Sicily.

But for a city like Genoa, for the city of Christopher Columbus, the most important door is obviously the port. Even if nowadays it is no longer the most important port of the Mediterranean, Genoa continues to be a very important port. From there you can go to Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, but also to Turkey or take a ship to a long visit to the Mediterranean.

By plane the most important International Airport near Genoa is Milano Malpensa. But you don't need to go to Milan to arrive in Genoa by plane. The Christopher Columbus Airport of Genoa has lots of flights ready for you, both low budget (for example Ryanair has many connections to London) and first class airfare (Alitalia, Airfrance, Lufthansa). It has frequent flights, for example, to Paris, Milan, Rome and Munich.

By Francesco Ristori

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