During the 12th and 13th centuries the most powerful port in the world, it has managed to retain its feeling of that glorious history within the walls of the medieval old town, and is the self-declared capital of the Italian Riviera.
How to Get to Genoa
Passenger ships dock at the marine port, a busy industrial area full of traffic. Though it's not far from the Old Port and city center, you might want to get a taxi or shuttle bus for safety's sake. Have it drop you at Porto Antico (Old Port) where the locals come to relax, or up to the Cathedral San Lorenzo, one block away and the heart of the narrow alleys of the old center.
One Day in Genoa
Despite the city's size, it is easy to explore the old center on foot. The Cathedral San Lorenzo is the heart of the area you'll want to explore. The cathedral itself is Romanesque dating from the 12th century and houses the ashes of John the Baptist, Genoa's patron saint. A couple of blocks away is the Piazza de Ferrari which has the 13th-century Palace of Doges and the opera house. The main shopping street, Via XX Settembre, leads off from here.
The streets known as Strade Nuove house art museums in grand palaces. Outside the medieval gates, between the train station and Vittorio Park is a lively weekend flea market. Down at the Old Port is the Genoa Aquarium, the largest in Europe. Also The Bigo, a crane-like ride that gives panoramic views of the city; the Biosfera, a mini ecosystem in a dome; and a 17th-century pirate ship which kids love. Genoa is the embarkation or disembarkation point for many cruises so a day ashore is often not factored in; perhaps plan to add it yourself.
The language in Genoa is Italian and despite its port status, English is not commonly spoken. The main tourist hubs will be more English-friendly but be prepared to smile, nod and gesture a lot. The currency is euro and if you're embarking here, find the Bancomat as you'll need euro throughout your cruise. Most shops and businesses close in the middle of the day (anytime from 1-4pm) and are closed all day Sunday, except in the tourist hubs.
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