of ancient Rome's triumphal arches, but this one is on the edge
of Piazza della Vittoria, Genoa.
Genoa, the only European city to be mentioned in the
old Arabian Nights stories is a fabulous surprise for travellers
who know all about the wonders of Rome, Venice, Pisa, and Florence
but were not aware that Genoa was Europe's Capital of Culture
in 2004 and imagine that Italy's largest Mediterranean port
is an industrial wasteland.
XX Settembre street (where XX means 20 in Latin, not something
seedy in New York) of elegant stores and pavement cafés
shaded by ancient arcades.
Genoa's centre is lively, easily walkable and loaded
with 16thC and 17thC Palazzi (small palaces), chic shops, elegant
people, magnificent avenues, tiny winding medieval streets,
bizarre little details and of course gorgeous churches, particularly
in the well-preserved old town.
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo is in pole position for the sights
race with an awesome mixed marble and slate facade (best seen
in the afternoon), stunning sculptures and a fantastic treasury,
closely followed by the neighbouring Gesu church with more marble,
frescos and two huge, unusual paintings by Rubens.
The Porto Antico (waterfront) offers plenty of action, with
shows, swimming, aquarium, kids play area, bars and restaurants.
Ducale, the Palace of the Doges, just off Piazza de Ferrari in Genoa's centre, with world-class
The Porto Antico area bordering the old town is not an aesthetic
success, with its clumping elevated highway, bald piazza, uncoordinated
Bigo thing and tired plastic box-set of an Aquarium,
while some areas are still sleazy despite a major clean up around
the turn of the millennium and there is no shortage of down-and-outs
looking for a hand-out.
Sights: XX Settembre is the best route to the old town
for tourists disembarking from trains at Genoa's Brignole station
- from where run useful trains to the Italian Riviera in an
hour and along the Cinque Terre line (see Italy Beaches). The grand colonnaded XX runs down to Piazza de Ferrari
on the edge of the old town and is lined with a variety of interesting
structures and excellent shops.
must-see route is the pedestrianised Via Garibaldi, narrow but
lined with fine Palazzi that now host all sorts of venerable
European institutions, galleries, some excellent trompes l'oeuil
and odd architectural features.
Otherwise it's down to diving into the labyrinthine maze of
the really tiny but tall streets of the old town looking
for ancient churches and curiosities of Italy, cappuccinos and cold beers.
door knocker from on the Palazzo Ducale, Piazza San Lorenzo. Next, Via Garibaldi Pictures.
these pictures of Genoa we have tried to give a feeling for
the centre of the city; we have not attempted to encompass every
last tourist option, that is your job.
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