Famed for its art, culture, food and fashion it is hardly surprising that over 47 million tourists picked Italy as their destination of choice last year. With stunning shorelines, verdant forests, delectable cuisine and more World Heritage sites than you can shake a stick at the only question is where to start your exploration of this captivating country. One strong option which scores points in all these categories is the impressive province of Genoa. Here we take a closer look at the delights of this lovely part of the Liguria region.
Photo by Diana Meier via Trover.com
Easily accessible by air, road, high speed train and a particular favourite of cruise liners, Genoa city, or Genova as the locals call it, is a well established port city. Its cobbled streets lay claim to being the original home of legendary explorer Christopher Columbus and celebrated composer and performer Niccolo Paganini. Nicknamed la Superba (‘the Proud one’) due its historic past and spectacular landmarks, Genoa is readily explored through its network of squares and alleys, which are considered to be the largest among its European contemporaries. With an ongoing commitment to the restoration of the city’s architectural heritage the fruits of these labours are clear to see. On foot it seems like around every corner lurks yet another historic palace, each one more stunning than the last.
The ideal way to experience Genoa is to immerse yourself in its culture. This will provide a real feel for the city, its attributes and inhabitants. As the city has so much variety on offer there are a number of ways to achieve this objective. The most obvious choice is to participate in one of the many guided walking tours on offer. Securing an experienced guide is crucial to this activity – seeing the city through the eyes of an enthusiast can make a huge difference in terms of the quality of your day. If you want to cover more ground a segway based tour is another option. Getting around the city this way is lighter work than exploring by foot especially in the Italian heat. These tours will give a real insight into the history of the city, its architecture and the people who made it famous.
Italian film director Federico Fellini once argued that, “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”
To get under the skin of real Italian life and experience their magic get up close and personal with their pasta. Genoa has a proud foodie heritage and one of the top local delicacies is Genovese pesto. A number of cooking schools run by Genovese enthusiasts offer the opportunity to create an authentic local meal and learn about the city at the same time. One such organisation – Creattivando- runs a variety of cooking and baking workshops for children and adults. Home-made pasta, sweet biscuits and real Ligurian pesto are among the treats participants have the opportunity to create. These are then complemented by other items prepared by the expert team to make up a locally based smorgasbord of delights.
Genoa- beyond the city boundaries
If you choose to spread your wings beyond the city limits of Genoa itself, nearby Portofino provides an entirely different perspective on Italian life. This enchanting fishing village famed for its picturesque harbour graces many an artist’s canvas and regularly attracts the famous (and infamous) to its shores. Located approximately 45km east of Genoa, Portofino is the jewel in the crown of this part of the Italian Riviera. Many companies provide escorted tours from Genoa to Portofino – other options include taxi or train (though it will only take you as far as neighbouring Santa Margherita Ligure) so an additional bus journey or taxi ride will still be required. Some visitors choose to rent a car to make the trip but as Portofino is a car free zone this can be a more complicated option than it initially appears
Photo by Crazy Travelista via Trover.com
Portofino is also a top pick for those whose favoured mode of transport is boat. Considered to be one of the most desirable and charming ports in the Mediterranean, small fishing vessels are moored happily alongside luxury yachts. During the height of the summer season, some of the most expensive yachts are anchored here as the small village plays host to the boating jetset.
Relax with a stroll around the pleasant harbour or follow the winding path to the Chiesa San Giorgio with its breathtaking views. Drink in the sights and sounds of this bubbling village with its vibrant coloured houses, trompe l’oeil effect facades and smell the well roasted coffee emanating from the pretty cafes and restaurants. It is a hard heart that fails to engage with the life and soul of this enchanting environment.
English literary giant Samuel Johnson once advised,
“A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority.”
Start your Italian adventure in Genoa and Portofino and dodge any such potential deficiency!
This article was written by guest writer, Sally Frazer.