Genoa - Abbey Travel, Ireland



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Welcome to Genoa


Those of us who remember our history books recognise Genoa as the birthplace of famous explorer Christopher Columbus. Always an important port-city in Italy, for decades Genoa languished behind Rome, Venice and Milan as the tourists passed it by.

This changed dramatically after the European Union nominated Genoa as the European Capital of Culture in 2004. Cruise ships docking in the Porto Antico are now bringing visitors by the thousands, and travellers in Italy are making time in their itineraries to spend several days on holiday in Genoa.

This tourism renaissance is well-deserved, as there are many beautiful and fascinating tourist attractions in Genoa. The medieval district is filled with stunning marble churches and stately palaces, grouped around scenic plazas like the Piazza San Matteo and the Piazza Dante. Visitors should be sure to look for the famous frescoes of the Church of Sant'Agostino and the fanciful Gothic carvings of the Cattedrale San Lorenzo. The Via Garibaldi has a number of impressive Baroque buildings.

There are many interesting museums in the city, dedicated to everything from cultural and natural history to the navy, cathedrals, and royalty of the city's past. There are no fewer than five art museums in Genoa as well.

Though it is Italy's largest medieval town, Genoa's present is just as vibrant as its past. The streets are always buzzing with life, and visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to restaurants, shops and entertainment. The Porto Antico on the harbour front has been rebuilt from a utilitarian dock to an entertainment area with museums, cinemas, restaurants, and one of the biggest aquariums in Europe along the pretty promenade.

Genoa makes a good base to explore the other towns along the Italian Riviera, including Portofino, Cinque Terre, Rapallo and La Spezia.

Information & Facts

Eating Out

Among the many delights that Italian cuisine has brought to the world, Genoa can claim two as its own: the city was the birthplace of pesto sauce, traditionally made from herbs, olive oil and pine nuts. It is used in abundance on pizzas and pastas in Genoa, so there are plenty of opportunities to sample Genovese varieties.

The other invention now known worldwide is foccaccia, a kind of flat oven-baked bread topped with olive oil and white wine (or whatever you want to pile on). Foccaccia is staple fast-food in Genoa - a relatively filling and cheap snack to grab on the run.

There are many excellent restaurants in Genoa. Many charge a fixed rate per person, and are open from 12:30 to 3pm for lunch and 7:30 to 10pm for dinner; however, you'll find many cafes and trattorias that stay open in the afternoon. The Old Town area of the city has many good restaurants (like Trattoria Sa Pesta), and there's also a good selection in Porto Antico, down by the harbour.

The official language of Italy is Italian. English is understood in the larger cities but not in the more remote parts of the country.

The Euro (EUR) is the official currency, which is divided into 100 cents. Those arriving in Italy with foreign currency can obtain Euros through any bank, ATM or bureaux de change. ATMs are widespread. Travellers cheques can be exchanged with ease in the large cities, not so in the smaller towns. Credit cards are accepted in upmarket establishments and shops around the cities. Banks are closed on weekends, but tend to have better rates than casas de cambios.


Shopping in Genoa is as elegant an experience as in any other city in Italy. Bargain-hunters will have their choice of luxury boutiques, antique stores, gourmet food shops and department stores - in addition to a plethora of souvenir and gift shops.

For those looking for high-end purchases, the best fashion shops in Genoa can be found along the Via Settembre, Via Luccoli and Via San Luca. Souvenir-hunters will love the handmade lace and carved olive wood in the shops lining the medieval-style Via Soziglia. There is a large shopping centre near the Genova Sampierdarena train station called Fiumara, which has a variety of shops and is near restaurants and entertainment venues like bowling alleys and pool halls.

Popular Genoa souvenirs include the intricate silver and gold jewellery made in the area, as well as Ligurian ceramic pottery.

Genoa is home to the Acquario di Genova, which is the second-largest aquarium in Europe. Built in 1992, it welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors each year. The ship-like building on the promenade houses no fewer than 50 habitats, ranging from the Amazon basin and Red Sea coral reefs to Antarctic penguin pools. Hundreds of species that call the aquarium home include seals, dolphins, caiman, piranhas, jellyfish, sea turtles, penguins and sharks. The aquarium has good English-language facilities and is a fantastic family attraction in Genoa.

The 13th-century church and monastery of Sant'Agostino, once a place of retirement and seclusion, is now open for visitors to view the amazing collections within. The church itself was built by the Augustinians in 1260, and is one of the few Gothic buildings remaining in Genoa. Today, the cloisters are a museum housing more than 4,000 works, including metal and stone sculptures, frescoes, and many architectural artefacts and fragments. One of the most popular attractions in Genoa, the museum is a must-see for visitors to the region.

Formerly Genoa's City Hall, the Palazzo Tursi is the largest and most majestic of all the magnificent buildings on the Via Garibaldi. Built in 1565, the building is now a museum and houses unique artefacts like the violin of Nicolo Paganini, and ashes that are said to be the remains of Christopher Colombus. The museum also contains numerous decorative artworks, like tapestries, furniture and Ligurian ceramics, as well as historical artefacts like ancient coins and medical devices. On sunny days, you can break from the museum's collections and just enjoy the beauty of the building's many-columned interior courtyard.

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