Such is Genoa (from the Latin Ianua), a portal between land and sea. A crossroads of cultures and people since ancient times, Genoa has always been a land that lives and breathes the sea air. Its history speaks grandly of this magnificent city, displaying its richness and beauty in every corner of the old town. The narrow and characteristic carruggi snake between the tall buildings along the medieval street plan, apparently inhomogeneous yet well-defined by the main streets that meander towards both the sea and inland.
Beautiful buildings, gorgeous churches, façades decorated by stuccoes and frescoes, invaluable art collections – all bring the “Century of the Genovesi” to mind, the most important moment in the city’s cultural development.
A walk through the streets, squares and alleys of Genoa is a constant surprise. Behind every corner is a treasure waiting to be discovered.
The hinterland tells its story through this prodigious work of Man.
A sequence of varying landscapes rapidly transition from sheer cliffs to smooth hills that eventually rise toward the sky in the Apennine and Alpine ranges. A wild nature that only the determination and love of its people has managed to tame, finding the right balance between environmental conservation and the needs of the people. Terraced olive groves and vineyards break up the thick inland vegetation, with vast expanses of chestnuts bordering green valleys and fields.
An especially mild climate, an impervious terrain and the passion of the people of Genoa: these are the three key elements, ingredients for the excellent local products that distinguish this land (above all – the extra virgin olive oil). Steep and rocky, interspersed with graceful coves and bays, covered with pines, Holm oak, palm trees and agave, painted with a rainbow of flowers, caressed by a sea that absorbs its magic, dotted with picturesque villages to brighten up a landscape so gorgeous it seems unreal. A land of contrasts that are so harmoniously linked to one another, the coast of Genoa is a marvel with which few places in the world can compete.
De Ferrari Square
Genoa’s main square, a meeting and gathering place for important city events, is dedicated to Raffaele De Ferrari, the Duke of Galliera, a generous benefactor who donated a considerable sum of money in 1875 towards projects to expand the port.
In the centre is a monumental bronze fountain, crafted by the architect Cesare Crosa of Vergagni in 1936. The Teatro Carlo Felice and the building of the Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti (Ligurian Academy of Fine Arts) that look onto the square were both designed by Carlo Barabino. Piazza De Ferrari is also bordered by the side façade of Palazzo Ducale (the main entrance of which is on the adjacent Piazza Matteotti), Palazzo della Regione Liguria (the offices of the Liguria region, built in 1920), and Palazzo della Nuova Borsa (the new stock exchange), one of the finest examples of Genoese Art Nouveau (1912).
The Doges’ residence since 1339, this building is today an exceptional venue for important events and prestigious activities.
Genoa’s Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace) is one of the city’s most prestigious symbols. Its construction began in 1298, when Genoa was asserting its economic power throughout the Mediterranean. The adjoining Palazzo Fieschi was incorporated into the new building, having been purchased by the Republic in 1294; part of the mediaeval building, to which the “Torre del Popolo”, or Grimaldina, belongs is still visible today.
Today it has become the beating heart of cultural life in the city, offering a splendid venue for major events and quality exhibitions, as well as housing retail and entertainment facilities.
San Lorenzo Cathedral
Beginning in the 9th century, San Lorenzo first supported then replaced the basilica of the Twelve Apostles as the city’s cathedral, dedicated to San Siro, a bishop of Genoa, since the 6th century. San Siro was (and indeed is to this day) located outside the ancient heart of the city, towards the West.
The relocation of the cathedral gave a boost to urban development in the area, with city walls built in 1155 and Genoa’s three ancient urban nuclei (the castrum, civitas and burgus) combining to become the heart of the city.
The consecration of the cathedral by Pope Gelasius II in 1118 marked the start of its reconstruction in Romanesque style; funds for the work arrived from the Crusades, other military ventures and city taxes.
Lighthouse of Genoa
The very symbol of Genoa: rebuilt in 1543, it stands on a 40-metre-high rock, bringing the total height to 117 meters above sea level. The 172 stairs can be climbed up to the first observation terrace for superb views of the harbour and historic centre.
At the foot is a multimedia museum, where visitors can choose their own itinerary depending on the video material that interests them most. There are about 150 videos to choose from, illustrating the history, art, material culture and traditions of life in the city and province of Genoa through the words of ordinary people.
The walk that leads to the Lighthouse is a pedestrian path of about 800 metres, starting out near the Ferry Terminal.
The Aquarium of Genoa is the largest aquarium in Italy and among the largest in Europe. Located in the old harbor area of Genoa, Italy, the 33,000-square-foot (3,100 m2) aquarium is a member organization of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), and welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors each year.
The aquarium was originally built for Genoa Expo ’92 (International Exhibition Genoa ’92 Colombo ’92), celebrating 500 years since the Genoan sailor Christopher Columbus discovered the new world. The building, which some say looks like a ship ready to head out to sea, was designed by the Genoese architect Renzo Piano of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. The interior design and initial exhibits for the opening in 1992 were designed by Peter Chermayeff leading a design team at Cambridge Seven Associates. In 1998 the aquarium was expanded with the addition of a 100-metre (330 ft) ship connected by walkway to the original building.