Genoa (Italian: Genova, approx. 800,000 inhabitants) is the capital of the Liguria region in northwestern Italy. The city is located on the Ligurian Sea and has an important seaport and the industry settled through it. In the back of the city the mountains of the Apennines directly adjoin. Genoa has been an important trading and port city since ancient times and the boulevard in the old town has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Many Baroque and Renaissance houses with magnificent facades can be found here. Even today, fortified fortifications bear witness to the eventful history of the city, which was once a powerful sea power. Today, on the other hand, it is quite modern at the “Porto Antico”. This old harbor has been transformed into a modern port and numerous private boats and yachts are anchored here.
Tip 1: Piazza de Ferrari
Piazza de Ferrari in the heart of Genoa is both a meeting place for locals and a venue for events. Numerous historic buildings frame the large piazza and several important streets flow into the central square. It was named after Raffaele de Ferrari, who held the title of Duke of Galleria and was one of Genoa’s wealthiest residents in the 19th century. On one side of Piazza de Ferrari rises the Palazzo del Duca di Galliera. The palatial building served as the residence of its namesake. The square is dominated by a circular fountain designed by Italian architect Cesare Crosa di Vergagni and built according to his plans in 1936.
A historic ensemble of buildings with some striking structures frames Piazza de Ferrari in the heart of Genoa. With an ornate facade, the Palazzo Ducale borders the central square on one side. The building was once the residence of the Genoese Doge and was rebuilt in the 16th century in the style of the Italian Renaissance. Today, the structure is used as a cultural center as well as an exhibition and event venue. The Palazzo of the New Stock Exchange was built in 1912 in Art Nouveau style and in 1920 the Palazzo della Regione Liguria was inaugurated. The Palazzo dell’ Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti houses the Ligurian Academy of Fine Arts.
One side of Piazza de Ferrari is bordered by the Teatro Carlo Felice opera house. It is the most important opera house in the port city and was opened in 1828. In front of the main entrance, with its columned portal reminiscent of the architecture of a Greek temple, there is a bronze equestrian statue.
Tip 2: Palazzi dei Rolli
The Palazzi dei Rolli ensemble of buildings is located in the old town district of La Strade Nuove in the heart of Genoa. More than 40 noble palaces and patrician houses are part of the complex, which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2006. The palaces were built between the 16th and 18th centuries and represented the power and wealth of the noble families and merchants in the former Maritime Republic. The construction of the La Strade Nuove district began in 1551. The aim was to give the aristocracy of the port city their own residential quarter. The Palazzi dei Rolli served as residences and were used to receive foreign heads of state. With their magnificent Renaissance and Baroque facades, the aristocratic palaces are among the most important sights in Liguria.
From the 16th century onwards, the Palazzi dei Rolli were classified into categories and summarized on a list (Rolli). This was done in order to record the ranking of the buildings during state visits. The first category includes, among others, Palazzo Rosso with its red facade. The palace dates from the 17th century and today houses a valuable art collection. In addition to numerous works by Flemish artists, paintings by Albrecht Dürer and several Italian Renaissance painters are also on display. In the neighborhood rises the Palazzo Bianco, a noble palace from the 16th century. It was built by Luca Grimaldi, a scion of a widespread noble family. To this day, representatives of the noble family rule the principality of Monaco.
The most imposing building in Via Garibaldi is Palazzo Doria Tursi, built in the second half of the 16th century. With its striking Renaissance façade, the noble palace is one of the most impressive buildings in the Palazzi dei Rolli ensemble.
Tip 3: Porto Antico
In 1992, the former industrial port of Porto Antico (old harbour) was completely redesigned by Italian architect Renzo Piano, turning it into a tourist center in Genoa. Visitors can expect a mixture of harbor atmosphere and recreational fun. You can stroll along the palm-lined promenade and enjoy a cappuccino at an ice cream parlor. In the marina, the white hulls of motor and sailing yachts bob on the water. A magnificent view of the lighthouse at the entrance to the harbor can be seen from the end of the piers. Not far from the Porto Antico is the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, one of Genoa’s most famous personalities. At Porto Antico rise the former cotton warehouses called Magazzini del Cotone, which have been transformed into a leisure and congress center during the remodeling works.
The main attraction at Porto Antico is the Acquario di Genova with its 70 show tanks and the Whale Pavilion. Huge aquariums house animals and plants from all the world’s oceans. The spectrum ranges from colorful underwater landscapes of the tropics to the underwater world of the ice seas. A highlight of the second largest aquarium in Europe is the whale pavilion with a 15-meter-long glass tunnel. Right next to the Acquario di Genova is the huge glass dome of the Biosphere. Behind the protective glass is a tropical rainforest populated by colorful butterflies and birds
Tip 4: Cathedral of San Lorenzo
Genoa Cathedral was consecrated as a Romanesque church in 1118 by Pope Gelasius II. Construction began in the late 11th century. The construction period for the Cathedral of San Lorenzo stretched over several centuries. For this reason, the facade and interior have both Romanesque and Gothic architectural elements. Extensive extensions were added in the 14th and 15th centuries. Several altars and chapels were added at that time. A loggia on the northeastern tower of the church dates from the middle of the 15th century. Construction work on the Genoa Cathedral was finally completed only in the 17th century.
A distinctive feature of Genoa Cathedral is the black and white striped marble facade. It was completed at the beginning of the 14th century and has elaborate reliefs. The statues and frescoes inside the cathedral are considered important testimonies of contemporary history.
In the rooms below the Cathedral of San Lorenzo there is a museum where valuable religious relics and artistic gold and silver work are exhibited. Among the exhibits is the Arca delle Ceneri, a 15th century shrine said to contain the ashes of John the Baptist.
Tip 5: Palazzo Reale
Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) is a historic palace in the Italian city of Genoa.
Its premises are now used as an art gallery and with its adjacent park it is considered one of the most impressive museums in the city.
The building is located in Via Balbi, not far from the university headquarters and the Genova Principe train station. The architecture of the palace dates back to the 16th-17th centuries and has preserved its historical treasures, starting from the frescoes and the stuccoes, to the paintings and the furniture of that period.
The Palazzo Reale has largely preserved the original furniture of its long history. In the halls you can see Genoese, Piedmontese and French furniture from the 17th to the 20th century. Among the frescoes are works by Valerio Castello and Andrea Sighizzi, Angelo Michele Colonna and Agostino Mitelli and Giovanni Battista Carlone.
On the two floors there are more than 200 paintings, by artists ranging from the Genoese, such as Bernardo Strozzi, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, Giovanni Battista Gaulli and Domenico Fiasella, to the masters Bassano, Tintoretto, Luca Giordano, Anthonis van Dyck, Ferdinand Voet and Guercino.
Finally, a collection of sculptures is open to the visitor. Among the pieces, both ancient and modern, there are also sculptures by the Baroque artist Filippo Parodi.