Genoa in a Few Hours

Unable to travel, unable to dance, but still happy and grateful for being safe and healthy at home, with my family…

When your main goal in life is to live as intensely and healthily as possible, to travel as much as you can and dance all day long, and to avoid wasting a second of it in front of TV or playing games, and then suddenly, you are forced to change everything overnight and to adjust to completely new circumstances, you realize how tiny you actually are in this huge Universe that never gives anything for granted. For a millionth time you realize that the only thing you can do is to make your own choices and to do your best at every moment.

Extremely happy and grateful to have transformed my business activities into working online long before this situation, now I could only choose to commit myself to further education and personal growth.

Via Garibaldi, Genova
Via Garibaldi , Genova

That’s also why, during this period when we all have to stay at our homes, I’ve decided to write about towns I visited last year, but due to their quantity I haven’t manage to process so far.

The choice of an Italian town, the town of the country that I adore and endlessly admire, and that was hit by this disaster in the most terrible way, seemed so logical.

Genoa (Genova) is the sixth-largest city in Italy, its largest port, and the capital of the Italian region of Liguria. If you have just a few hours to visit this beautiful city, this itinerary of mine may help you see the most of its best attractions without making unnecessary steps.

The Old Port (Porto Antico)
The Old Port (Il Porto Antico)


  1. The Old Port (Porto Antico)
  2. The Aquarium of Genoa (Acquario di Genova)
  3. The Galata (Museo del mare)
  4. The Neptune (Galeone Neptune)
  5. The Biosphere (Biosfera)
  6. The Bigo
  7. The Palace of St. George (Palazzo San Giorgio)
  8. The Cathedral of Saint Lawrence (Duomo di Genova, Cattedrale di San Lorenzo)
  9. The Doge’s Palace (Il Palazzo Ducale)
  10. The Church of Jesus and the Saints Ambrogio and Andrea (La Chiesa dei Santi Ambrogio e Andrea detta del Gesù)
  11. The Porta Soprana
  12. The House of Christopher Columbus
  13. The St. Andrew’s Cloister
  14. Piazza De Ferrari
  15. The Teatro Carlo Felice
  16. The Ligurian Academy of Fine Arts  (L’Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti)
  17. Il Palazzo della Nuova Borsa (new stock exchange) 
  18. The Teatro Carlo Felice
  19. Via Garibaldi (The palazzo Doria-Tursi, The Palazzo Rosso, The Palazzo Bianco, The Palazzo Giò Carlo Brignole …)
  20. The Basilica of St Syrus (La Chiesa di San Siro)
  21. The Porta dei Vacca
  22. The Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato
  23. The Palazzo Balbi Senarega
  24. The Royal Palace (Il Palazzo Reale)
  25. The Church Santi Vittore e Carlo
  26. The Christopher Columbus Monument
  27. The Lighthouse (La Lanterna di Genova)

We will start our tour from the Old Port (Porto Antico), a beautiful area to enjoy the sunshine and take pictures. This popular place offers a nice view of the city, of the yachts and cruise ships, has a lot of little cafes and restaurants for everyone’s taste, benches to sit on and watch the people pass by.

The Aquarium of Genoa (Acquario di Genova)
The Aquarium of Genoa

If your time allows you, I would highly recommend a visit to the Aquarium of Genova. Prepare for a long day of walking, but the reward will be priceless!

The Aquarium of Genoa (Acquario di Genova) is the largest aquarium in Italy, of 3,100m² that welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors each year.

It was originally built for Genoa Expo ’92 to celebrate 500 years since Christopher Columbus, the famous Genoese sailor, discovered the new world.

The aquarium includes 70 tanks which host 12,000 animals of 400 different species, including dolphins, sharks, seals, jellyfishes, penguins and many others.

The Neptune (Galeone Neptune)
The Neptune (Galeone Neptune)

Here, you will also find the largest maritime museum in the Mediterranean Sea, the Galata (Museo del mare), opened in 2004; a huge pirate ship the Neptune (Galeone Neptune), which is a replica of a 17th-century Spanish galleon, built in 1985 for Roman Polanski’s film Pirates. It is currently a tourist attraction and its interior can be visited.

The Biosphere (Biosfera)
The Biosphere (La Biosfera)

Right next to the Aquarium, there is the Biosphere, known as Renzo Piano’s Bolla, a glass and steel spherical structure built in 2001. It is suspended over the sea, offering an exhibition area of ​​about 200m² of a tropical rain forest with over 150 species. A computerized conditioning system guarantees the maintenance of an adequate level of temperature and humidity inside the sphere.

The Bigo
The Bigo

You can also have fun and amazing views from the Bigo, an architectural structure designed by Renzo Piano in 1992, inspired by the bigo, the crane used for loading and unloading in the naval environment.

It has a panoramic lift which leaves the ground every 10 minutes, rises up to 40m in height and rotates 360 degrees to afford wonderful panoramic views of the harbor, city and beyond, with background music, written panels and voice guidance in different languages, indicating the buildings and structures worth visiting.

The Palace of St. George (Palazzo San Giorgio)
The Palace of St. George (Il Palazzo San Giorgio)

You will definitely notice here the Palace of St. George (Palazzo San Giorgio), built in 1260, a colorful building with lovely frescoes on its exterior. For a while it was used as a prison with Marco Polo as one of its most famous residents. In the 15th century, it became home to the Bank of Saint George.

From here, we will take Via St.Lorenzo to get to the most important church in Genoa, the Cathedral of Saint Lawrence (Duomo di Genova, Cattedrale di San Lorenzo), a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Lawrence.

The Cathedral of Saint Lawrence (Duomo di Genova)
The Cathedral of Saint Lawrence (Il Duomo di Genova)

This, over thousand years old, cathedral went through relocation, expansion, fire, reconstruction and restoration. In 1133 it became the seat of the archbishop of Genoa. It has a magnificent white and black striped marble and stone front façade.

The Doge's Palace (Il Palazzo Ducale)
The Doge’s Palace (Il Palazzo Ducale)

Following Via di Porta Soprana we will go past the Doge’s Palace (Il Palazzo Ducale).

It was built between 1251 and 1275, during the flourishing period of the Republican history of Genoa, when the local government decided to purchase two buildings belonging to the Doria and Fieschi families, between San Matteo and San Lorenzo churches in the center of the mediaeval city, and in 1339 it became the seat of the doge. The Torre Grimaldina or the Torre del Popolo (Tower of the People) was added in 1539, when the palace was restored.

 In 1777 it was devastated by a fire, and later rebuilt in Neoclassicist style by Simone Cantoni.

In July 2001 it hosted the G8 Summit.

It is now a museum and a center for cultural events and art exhibitions.

The Church of Jesus and the Saints Ambrogio and Andrea (La Chiesa dei Santi Ambrogio e Andrea detta del Gesù)
The Church of Jesus and the Saints Ambrogio and Andrea (La Chiesa dei Santi Ambrogio e Andrea detta del Gesù)

Right next to this palace, there is the Church of Jesus and the Saints Ambrogio and Andrea (La Chiesa dei Santi Ambrogio e Andrea detta del Gesù). It is a Baroque church, belonging to the Jesuits, erected between 1580 and 1606. It hosts two valuable paintings by the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens: The Circumcision on the main altar and Saint Ignatius heals an obsess.

The Porta Soprana
La Porta Soprana

The same street will take us to the Porta Soprana, the best-known gate of the ancient walls of Genoa, famous Barbarossa Walls. Although it dates back to the 9th century, it has been rebuilt numerous times, and stands impressively right next to the House of Christopher Columbus.

Columbus was born in 1451 and lived there between 1455 and 1470. It was destroyed in the French Bombardment of Genoa in 1684, and rebuilt in the early 18th century on the basis of the original ruins. It currently operates as a museum.

The St. Andrew's Cloister
The St. Andrew’s Cloister

There can also be found the St. Andrew’s Cloister, the remains of the ancient monastery of St. Andrew, probably founded in the early 11th century. It was a Benedictine monastery inhabited by nuns from to the most illustrious families of the city.

Piazza De Ferrari
Piazza De Ferrari

Taking Via Dante now, we will soon get to Piazza De Ferrari, Genoa’s main square, dedicated to Raffaele De Ferrari, who donated a considerable amount of money in 1875 to expand the port.

It is a meeting point for many important city events, and the financial and business center of Genoa.

It has a monumental bronze fountain in the center, crafted in 1936.

Il Teatro Carlo Felice
Il Teatro Carlo Felice

Many amazing buildings look onto this square: The Teatro Carlo Felice and the Ligurian Academy of Fine Arts (L’Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti), the side façade of Palazzo Ducale, and the new stock exchange (Il Palazzo della Nuova Borsa), one of the finest examples of Genoese Art Nouveau, built in 1912.

The Teatro Carlo Felice is Genoa’s opera house, designed and built in 1827, and completely rebuilt after suffering a heavy damage during the WWII bombings.

Il Palazzo Bianco
Il Palazzo Bianco

Following Via XXV Aprile we will get to one of the most beautiful streets of Genoa, to Via Garibaldi. This street is a must-see attraction, 250 m long and pretty narrow, built around 1550’s and originally named Strada Maggiore or Strada Nuova. In 1882 it was dedicated to Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Each building here is a small masterpiece of architecture, many of them listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Charles Dickens gave a beautiful description of it in his travelogue Pictures from Italy.

The Palazzo Doria-Tursi (Il Municipio)
The Palazzo Doria-Tursi (Il Municipio)

The Palazzo Doria-Tursi together with the Palazzo Rosso and the Palazzo Bianco house the Strada Nuova Museums. Since 1848 The Palazzo Doria-Tursi has also housed the city hall of Genoa.

The palaces are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Genoa: Le Strade Nuove and the system of the Palazzi dei Rolli.

Palazzo Gio Carlo Brignole
Palazzo Gio Carlo Brignole

After The Palazzo Giò Carlo Brignole we will enter Via Cairoli, that will take us to Via San Siro and to The Basilica of St Syrus (La Chiesa di San Siro).

The Basilica of St Syrus (La Chiesa di San Siro)
The Basilica of St Syrus (La Chiesa di San Siro)

It is a Roman Catholic basilica and one of the oldest churches in the city, occupying the site of a former church dedicated to the apostles. Later, it was renamed after St Syrus. The inside is full of stunning paintings, statues, and history.

Salita di San Siro will take us to Via del Campo and thus, we will get to the Porta dei Vacca. The Porta dei Vacca, originally called Porta di Santa Fede, after the nearby church, or Porta Sottana, as opposed to the contemporary Porta Soprana, its twin gate, was built as a part of the works of fortification of the Genoese city wall in the XII century.

This gate is located near the port, it is less visible than the twin, and kept worse, but still very important. In the seventeenth century it was incorporated into two neighboring Rolli palaces. 

The Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato
The Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato

Going up Via delle Fontane, we get to the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato, a Catholic cathedral decorated by the major baroque studios and artists of Genoa in the 17th century. Its name “Vastato” refers to the area outside the walls of the city, where houses had been “devastated”.

In a site of the small church of Santa Maria del Prato, the Franciscans started building this church in 1520. In the early 17th century it got its rich Baroque decoration and the current Neoclassicist façade dates from 1830-1840s. The church was severely damaged during the World War II.

This church’s modest exterior hides a truly spectacular interior. Rows of Corinthian columns in red and white marble, lead to the stunning frescoes covering the ceiling and dome. The individual chapels contain extraordinary paintings and sculptures.

Via Balbi will lead us to our final destinations in Genoa.

The Palazzo Balbi Senarega
The Palazzo Balbi Senarega

First of them is the Palazzo Balbi Senarega, with its magnificent stairs, the courtyard and the entrance itself, built as a residential house and now converted into the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Genoa.

The Royal Palace (Il Palazzo Reale), constructed in 1618 for the Balbi family is a major palace in Genoa. From 1919, the palace has belonged to the state. A visit to this museum is a real step back to the golden era of Genoa’s history.

The palace contains countless original items such as paintings, tapestries, furniture, sculptures, etc. The inner courtyard and garden provide quite luxurious and peaceful atmosphere, and the top floor terrace offers very nice view of the city and the port.

The Royal Palace (Il Palazzo Reale)
The Royal Palace (Il Palazzo Reale)

The Church Santi Vittore e Carlo, right opposite the palace is a Baroque style church that originally belonged to the Discalced Carmelite Order. It was constructed between 1629 and 1635, in the shape of a Latin Cross and has a number of artistic works of 17th- and 18th-century inside.

At the end of the street, we will get to the Christopher Columbus Monument, commemorating Genoa’s most famous historic figure.

The great explorer was born in this city in 1451, and the impressively large statue reminds us of how the whole world changed through the actions of this one single man.

It stands in Piazza Acquaverde near the central train station.

The Christopher Columbus Monument
The Christopher Columbus Monument

Genoa has really so much to offer. No matter how often I visit this place, it always surprises me in new, fascinating ways.

You may also want to visit the symbol of the city, and its most famous sight, the Lighthouse (La Lanterna di Genova), the third oldest lighthouse in the world. Although the panorama from it is not too impressive, because of the industrial area around it, the building itself is quite beautiful, especially at night.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *