From its multi-faceted historical roots as a Roman settlement and maritime port to its notoriety as the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and Nicolò Pagannini, Genoa is reinventing itself as a major European tourist destination.
Genoa is a city that reveals herself slowly to the traveler. It can’t be rushed or seen in one day. Here you will find over 100 medieval palaces camouflaged among newer homes and businesses. Narrow winding streets and tall vertical buildings form an intricate labyrinth that connects different sections of the city and serves as Genoa’s core. Along these corridors you will find hundreds of small shops including produce stands, bakeries, clothing and jewelry stores, and many small restaurants and bistros.
One resident described Genoa’s food as a “paradise for vegetarians.” Indeed many restaurants and eateries serve healthy Mediterranean cuisine that includes fish, pasta with fresh pesto, mushrooms with olive oil, eggplant, pizza, focaccia, and of course, a variety of fine Italian wines. Be sure to sample what the locals eat and visit some neighborhood restaurants such as Trattoria Al Veliero and Ristaurant Saint Cyr. Take a pleasant side trip to the town of Recco, known as the gastronomic capital of Liguria. The cheese focaccia at Daö Vittorio is fantastic and a must on your trip. The owners are friendly and hospitable and are proud of their long history that dates back to 1896.
If there is one thing that Italians seem to love, it’s gelato. Almost every street has at least one shop with its colorful confections on display. Even if you don’t like ice cream, the soft, creamy flavors are hard to resist: chocolate with nuts, pistachio, chestnut, lemon, and mango are but a few of the flavors that can be enjoyed as you wander the streets on a sunny, lazy afternoon.
While Milan, Venice and Florence are better known as tourist destinations, Genoa is one city that has retained much of its old world charm and is just waiting to be discovered. Here you can stroll down stone-lined medieval streets; witness art through the ages at countless museums; visit the original dwelling of Christopher Columbus; and experience the sights, sounds and flavors that are a daily part of life in Genoa. With the efforts recently undertaken to introduce visitors to this cultural Mecca, this is one destination that should be high on your list if you are planning a trip to Italy.
First published by La Jolla Village News.