The soul of Genova is enclosed between the typical alleys of its historic center which is, to this day, among the largest in Europe, and listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Like other Italian cities, Genova also has its symbol in which thousands of residents identify: the Lanterna (beacon).
There are also other attractions, such as the Lanterna and the ancient port with the Biosphere and the Bigo, a manifesto of the Genoese architect and life senator Renzo Piano.
There are so many attractions to visit that just one day is not enough.
Here are some useful tips on what to see in Genova in a weekend, skipping for a moment the other wonders of Liguria, such as Cinque Terre and Portofino, popular tourist destinations.
Genova and its Aquarium
The bond between Genova and the sea has always been unbreakable.
A weekend in the old maritime republic may very well begin with a visit to the ancient port of the city, where is located the famous Aquarium.
The Genova Aquarium is the largest marine park in Italy and offers many experiences for both children and adults.
The Genoese marine park is home to over 70 ecosystems and 12,000 units of specimens that come from every corner of the sea on Earth.
The visit includes, among other things, the shark tank, the ice kingdom where the penguins of Papua and Magellan live, the cetacean sanctuary to watch up close the dolphins, the biodiversity pavilion with tanks for tropical environments and species.
The marine park can be reached by car, taking the exit Genova Ovest and continuing towards the city center until Via Milano and Via Gramsci.
By bus instead, the reference lines are number 1 (departure from Val Polcevera and Ponente) and number 13 (departure from Val Bisagno and Levante); the last stop is in front of the marine park.
The main alternative to the bus is the train.
From Piazza Principe station in Genova, the Aquarium is a 10-minute walk. If you do not want to walk, you can choose to reach the Aquarium taking the bus 32 or the Brignole metro, getting off at San Giorgio.
From Genova airport, at a short distance of 7 km, you can easily reach the Aquarium.
From Cristoforo Colombo airport, you can choose whether to take a taxi in the direction of the old port or take the Volabus, the airport shuttle that leads to the center; those who opt for this last, then continue on foot from the square towards Via San Lorenzo.
The square on the Mediterranean
Genova's visit continues in the open square of the Aquarium complex that leads towards the Mediterranean sea.
The ancient port of the Ligurian capital is the most visited place by tourists, especially in summer.
In the evening, the installations by the Genoese architect Renzo Piano offer a scene of incredible beauty, suiting to perfection from a natural point of view, despite being structures of ultramodern engineering.
The famous Biosphere, made entirely of glass, hosts inside a botanical garden which allows visitors to experience evocative contact with the fauna and flora of the tropical forest.
The Scarlet Ibis is among the most beautiful birds of the Biosphere; it mainly lives in the mangroves of Asia but can also be found in the greatest humid areas of South America.
After the Biosphere, you can visit the panoramic elevator Bigo, yet another masterpiece designed by the architect Renzo Piano for his hometown.
Not far from the Aquarium, Bigo offers who choose to climb a spectacular 360-degree view of the city of Genova, with the historic center in the foreground.
The elevator can reach a height of 40 meters above sea level, enough to enjoy a breathtaking view.
The last attraction to visit in the square that overlooks the Mediterranean is the Galata Museo del Mare, considered the most important maritime museum in Europe in terms of innovation and size.
Tourists who want to learn more about the history of navigation, find in the exhibition an impressive and entertaining offer, thanks also to the more than 6,000 original objects within it.
Among these, stands out the submarine Nazario Sauro, remained operational until 2002, and today is the first example of ship-museum in Italy that the public can visit in the water.
The symbols of Genova
Soccer fans will have heard at least once in their lives of the Lanterna derby, the match that sees on the field the two most important teams of the city, Genoa and Sampdoria.
La Lanterna is a much-loved symbol, opposite of the harbor from the Aquarium, with its 77 meters, is the highest lighthouse in the whole Mediterranean sea. The tower was first built in the fourteenth century, and the first lantern was installed a few years later (1326).
The current construction dates back to 1543; in that year the tower was rebuilt and the old olive oil lantern replaced. Since then, both the tower and the lantern have managed to overcome many ups and downs, including the bombing ordered by the French king Louis XIV.
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo is also a much-loved symbol by Genoeses.
Its construction dates back to 1098 and inside it hosts the ashes of St. John the Baptist, patron saint of the city of Genova.
Characterized by Gothic and Romanesque architectural features, the cathedral of the Ligurian capital is famous for its depictions on the façade.
The presence of a small dog carved on the right of one of the church entrance doors has always aroused great curiosity.
According to legend, the sculptors wanted to remember a little dog who was always near during the façade construction work, sculpting its image in marble.
Another curiosity of the Cathedral of San Lorenzo is the copy of a grenade launched by the English fleet during the Second World War, in one of the most violent attacks ever recorded against Genova.
The Museo del Tesoro and the Museo Diocesano are also part of the monumental complex of the Cathedral.
The Museo del Tesoro holds the Sacro Catino, which some legends identify with the famous Holy Grail.
Among the things to see in Genova in a day, stands Via Garibaldi, also known as Strada Nuova and Via Aurea.
Its beauty and the artworks included Via Garibaldi in the list of world heritage sites of humanity.
Once you get in the street you can admire the elegant buildings, including Palazzi dei Rolli which belonged to the ancient Genoese nobility.
Every year, the municipality of Genova organizes the Rolli Days, an event during which historic homes are open to visitors.
Even the Palazzi dei Rolli, like Via Garibaldi, have been recognized as a world heritage site.
The Caruggi of Genova
In the literary history dedicated to Genova, the alleys have always kept a central place.
The Genoeses claim that the characteristic alleys of the historic center preserve the soul of the Ligurian city.
The Carruggi, a world heritage site of medieval origin, represent the heart of the historic center. At the end of the colorful alleys, small squares open up to elegant buildings belonged to the Genoese nobility that throughout history hosted well-known personalities.
The Genova of the Carruggi is also the preferred area of the city by thousands of tourists, who dedicate the second part of their stay to the visit of the city center.
Walking through the narrow alleys of the historic center one has the desire to get lost as if it were a natural consequence of a sketchy itinerary that leaves ample room for creativity.
The mystery and beauty of the alleyways have exerted on Fabrizio De Andrè an almost mystical fascination.
Songs like La città Vecchia, Via del Campo, and Crêuza de mä tell in the unmistakable style of the singer of Pegli the story of the alleys.
In the song La città Vecchia (the old city), De Andrè recalls that, in the past, the Carruggi were the cradle of organized crime in Genova and a symbol of marginalization for many people.
Today, on the other hand, the narrow alleys of the historic center are a source of inspiration for tales of other times, with the Ligurian city exalted in a maze of emotions.
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