Visiting Genoa, Italy in less than 12 hours
Genoa, Italy is the sixth largest city in Italy, it has a rich history like all of Italy, a wealth of architectural styles, fabulous food, and is famous for being the home of Christopher Columbus. Genoa is also a major port city and a popular stop for cruise ships. Walking around Genoa you will find many narrow streets, small squares, churches, and a mixture of Medieval and Baroque architecture.
One summer, I only had a day to spend in Genoa. I quickly found a tourist “hop-on hop-off” bus, these buses are always useful to get a lay of the land, a quick history lesson, and to see how close or far things are from each other. I walked the main streets, found the ancient city walls, admired the house where Christopher Columbus was born, explored the side streets and stumbled upon hidden churches. I visited the gorgeous San Lorenzo Cathedral and admired the Piazza de Ferrari, had a delicious Genoese pasta lunch and admired the stately palaces on Via Garibaldi before running to get my train. I hope to go back one day to see more of Genoa, but below is an overview of what to see, if you have less than 12 hours in Genoa, Italy.
How to get to Genoa, Italy by train:
-Genoa is just an hour and half or about a two train ride from Milan’s Central Station
-From Turin, it’s just about a 2 hour train ride to Genoa
*For train travel time tables, ticket prices, and information visit raileurope.com
A few main sights to see in Genoa, Italy:
San Lorenzo Cathedral (or St. Lawrence Cathedral in English)
This Cathedral is stunning as you come across it rising up with its distinctive black and white stripe pattern, you’ll find it set against a bustling street and located on a small square. The Cathedral has a long history that dates back as far as the 5th and 6th century with additions and changes in 1155, restorations after a fire in 1296, façade work in the early 14th century, the dome was added in 1550, and was finally finished structure in the 17th century. The medieval aspects of the Cathedral were restored in the late 19th century. Notice the gorgeous 14th century frescos in the entryway and be sure to admire how the striped black and white pattern continues through the interior, and also make time to observe the richly decorated side altars and chapels.
NOTE – Many of the churches in Genoa were restored during in the 1980s-1990s
Piazza de Ferrari
This large piazza is dominated by a fountain and surrounded by impressive buildings including the neoclassical Theater Carlo Felice and the Palace of the Doges. The Palace of the Doge’s dates back to the mid 13th century and is now a museum and cultural events space. Note the buildings across from the Doge’s Palace have arcaded sidewalks, providing shade in the hot summer months, and notice the beautiful mosaic patterns on these covered sidewalks!
NOTE: Not far from Piazza de Ferrari you can walk to see the Medieval gates which is the oldest structure in Genoa. Venture just beyond the old city gates to see the house where Christopher Columbus was born and just past the house you will see the ruins of a small monastery.
Via Garibaldi (used to be called Strada Nuova)
On the Piazza de Ferrari, walk next to the Doge’s Palace and past the Theater Carlo Felice to reach the beginning of Via Garibaldi which is lined with palaces! This street is actually a UNESCO world heritage site. The Garibaldi Street dates back to the mid 16th century and houses prominent families, now some of these palaces are museums and art galleries. Walk along this grand street and you can wander into some of the palace courtyards to admire the buildings.