If you are looking for a European tourist destination, consider the Liguria region of northern Italy, commonly known as the Italian Riviera. This thin strip of land lies on the Ligurian Sea, not far from Monaco and the French Riviera. While Liguria is by no means undiscovered, its crowds are much smaller than those next door. This beautiful region is home to many little towns or villages, and the international port city of Genoa almost smack dab in the center of the coast.
This sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly city of about six hundred thousand calls itself La Superba (the Proud). Read this article and you’ll see why. Be sure to read the other articles in this series: eastern Liguria, western Liguria, and Cinque Terre, five little seaside villages that just might steal your heart.
Over its long history Genoa was often destroyed. It was a major player in the Crusades and perhaps captured the Holy Grail. By the Seventeenth Century Genoa lost its power. In 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi set out from Genoa with over a thousand volunteers to launch his successful campaign for a united Italy.
Caruggi, Genoa’s medieval center, is the largest such district in all Europe. One nearby attraction is the Sixteenth Century Merchants and Bankers Row, site of the first Italian Stock Exchange. The Twelfth Century San Matteo Church just south of Caruggi contains the tomb of Andrea Doria, Genoa’s second most famous sailor.
Twelfth Century twin towers mark where an ancient Roman road entered the city. According to legend Christopher Columbus’s father was a gatekeeper there. His alleged boyhood home is nearby.
Via Garibaldi is just loaded with palaces. The Sixteenth Century Palazzo Doria Tursi is the largest palace. The Sixteenth Century White Palace and the neighboring Seventeenth Century Red Palace are now devoted to the arts.
Be sure to see Genoa’s harbor, the largest in Italy. It’s fairly safe, if you are cautious. It has become a major cultural center. Il Bigo is a distinctive monument built for the 1992 Columbus commemoration.
The Genoa Aquarium is the Europe’s biggest and one of Italy’s most visited museums. Its huge tanks reproduce the environment of the Mediterranean Sea and the oceans and contain over six hundred species.
Liguria is famous for its pesto, claimed to be the world’s best. To make it grab a mortar and pestle and combine basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Val Polcevera DOC is the only DOC wine in the Genoa area. To tell the truth, there are many better reasons for visiting this lovely area.