9 Ultimate Highlights You Need To Know On Genoa, Italy – Mediterranean Sea 9

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Port of Genoa, Italy

The hub of Italy‘s Riviera and the capital of Genoa province and Liguria region, Port of Genoa is situated on the shores of Ligurian Sea, an arm of Mediterranean Sea. It is about 50 nautical miles northwest of the Port of La Spezia in Italy and 100 nautical miles northeast of the Port of Cannes in France.

Port of Genoa is Italy‘s most important commercial port and which rivals that of Marseille (France) in terms of trading at the Mediterranean area. Its market links extends as far as the ports in the North Sea especially with Switzerland and inland Central Europe. Even when international trade dwindled in the 20th century, said port has enjoyed its flourishing commercial activities to and from Northern Italy.

Shipbuilding is the major industry here at the Port of Genoa. It also handles the export of cotton, silk textiles, extra virgin olive oil and wine. Coal, crude oil and grain on the other hand are the chief imports.

Some Backgrounds On Genoa:

Occupied by the Ligures in 6 B.C., an ancient Italian tribe who called themselves Ambrones or “people of the water” Genoa was later on invaded by the Gauls then the Romans. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, came the Ostrogoths which would eventually toppled over by the Byzantines. In 7 A.D., the Germanic Lombards ruled over Genoa, destroying the city’s Roman walls.

Birth of the Republic of Genoa:

Long before Italy became one, united country, Genoa was a separate republic in the 11th century until 1797. During this time it was regarded as one of the Maritime Republics together with Venice, Pisa and Amalfi. It has been ruled by the oligarchs ( wealthy clans in Medieval Italy) such as the Spinolas, Fieschis, Grimaldis, Dorias, Balbis, among others. Sea trade like spices from Asia, textiles, metals, shipbuilding and banking were the major economic activities. At this point in time, the republic also saw the birth of the world’s greatest explorer, Cristoforo Colombo (Christopher Columbus) who would later endow supreme maritime legacy to Genoa.

Napoleonic Wars & the Kingdom of Italy:

Genoa‘s fortunes declined by the middle of the 18th century and in 1768, under the Treaty of Versailles, this maritime republic was annexed to France. Under the pressure of Napoleon, the state became a French protectorate in 1805 under the House of Savoy. Genoese trade has been revived and it further flourished when it was finally united with the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. Its port became Italy’s largest commercial port that competed with Marseille, France in terms of supremacy over the Mediterranean and North Seas.

Map showing Genoa (Genova in Italian).

I’ve seen Genoa twice, the first one was in 1999 while under contract with the Knock Muir (Fred Olsen Lines) and then in 2009 again aboard the Front Hunter (MRM Philippines). Shaped like a rainbow arch, Genoa has a gentle Mediterranean climate, not so hot in summer and during winter it’s just mild. Usually chosen as a holiday spot of European retirees, jet setters, film stars and the rich it offers both splendor and a pure sense of history. So let us check 9 ultimate highlights you need to know on Genoa, Italy.

1. It is a city of palaces.

Via Garibaldi

Yes indeed, Genoa is a city of palaces and lots of them. An ultimate highlight you need to know on Genoa, Italy. When it was an oligarchic republic the ruling families built palaces to showcase their wealth. Situated along Via Garibaldi (World Heritage Site since 2006), this is a street since the 16th century full of historical palaces that were once served as the residences of Genoa‘s wealthiest clans.

2. Full of stunning Churches.

The black and white striped facade of St. Lorenz Cathedral (Genoa Cathedral).

One of the ultimate highlights you need to know on Genoa, Italy are the stunning Churches scattered everywhere in the city. St. Lorenz Cathedral (or Genoa Cathedral) for one built between the 16th-18th centuries is of Romanesque-Renaissance style. Dedicated to St. Lawrence and the seat of the Archbishop of Genoa, this remarkable Church houses the ashes of St. John The Baptist. You can also find other important Catholic artifacts like gold crucifixes and the Holy Grail (Holy Cup) used in the Last Supper.

3. A place of piazzas.

Piazza di Ferrari

Genoa is a city known for its numerous and beautiful squares (piazzas) like the Piazza di Ferrari, the widest in Europe. An ultimate highlight you need to know on Genoa, Italy. Piazza di Ferrari is the city’s main square set between Genoa‘s old town and its modern new town. A cultural symbol of the city, it is the hub of important events but this square’s most striking element is its grand fountain.

4. Birthplace of Christopher Columbus

The Casa di Colombo found at Piazza Dante.

Genoa gave to the world its greatest explorer, Christopher Columbus. An ultimate highlight you need to know on Genoa, Italy. Born in 1451, Columbus donated a large part of his income earned from his discovery of the New World and the Americas to his beloved hometown. You can visit the house where he grew up at Piazza Dante, not far from the Piazza di Ferrari.

5. It has a unique view deck, the Il Bigo.

The Il Bigo Elevator.

An unusual elevator, Il Bigo lifts you 40 meters up for a unique experience in viewing the whole city of Genoa, its harbor and the Torre della Lanterna (the Lighthouse). Another ultimate highlight you need to know on Genoa, Italy Il Bigo elevator has been modeled after a ship’s crane for that extraordinary 360-degree view of Genoa‘s Porto Antico (old harbor). Designed by famous Italian architect Renzo Piano, don’t miss out this circular cabin which hoists you up equipped with an audio system explaining the history (in Italian, English, French and German) of the Old Port of Genoa and the town itself.

Torre della Lanterna, the lighthouse of Genoa.

6. City equipped with votive aedicules.

A votive aedicule found at a carrugi in Genoa.

There was a time when people in this city were fond of protecting their homes with sacred images placed high up in niches or tabernacles. An ultimate highlight you need to know on Genoa, Italy, when you walk along Genoa‘s carrugi (narrow street) don’t forget to look up for a votive aedicule.

7. It is home of the pesto sauce.

One of Italy‘s most important contributions to world’s food scene is the pesto. An ultimate highlight you need to know on Genoa, Italy it created the pesto sauce we know today. Locals call it “Pesto alla Genovese” which comes from the Genoese word “pesta” meaning “to crush” the ingredients (for the sauce).

8. Famous for its foccacia.

Similar to the pizza, foccacia (fuh-KA-cha) is Genoa‘s flat-bread product flavored with extra-virgin olive oil and topped with herbs and other vegetables. One of the ultimate highlights you need to know on Genoa, Italy while pizza is a thin flat bread with lots of toppings, foccacia is also a thin flat bread but with little toppings. When in Genoa, try not to forget the difference when you see the ubiquitous foccacia sold at cafes and along the carrugis.

9. Exporter of the extra-virgin olive oil.

We all know that virgin olive oil comes from Italy, but when it comes to the extra-virgin olive oil, it has to be from Genoa. The Ligurian coast of the city is abundant with olive trees where the highest quality of the olive oil comes from. An ultimate highlight you need to know on Genoa, Italy within 24 hours when the fruit is harvested, the oil is extracted, pressed right away at a lower temperature and bottled in the same day. A rigorous feat but it is to prevent the oil from losing its vitamin E and anti-oxidant properties so when you visit Genoa, don’t forget to bring home a bottle of its excellent extra-virgin olive oil.

Also hailed as “La Superba” or the “proud one” by poets in the Medieval period, Genoa will always be “popolo della feroche storia” (a city that has never forgotten its glorious past). It is inviting you to visit her and have your own experience as well. Once you are smitten by its charm it stays in your heart and soul forever. Che Dio benedica il tuo viaggo.

References: Wikipedia, Encyclopedia.com