Genoa, Italy

Genoa, Italy, best known as the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, is a very pretty city, where visitors are content to stroll around, sample the delicious food, and catch their breath during an otherwise, active and port-intensive Mediterranean cruise.

For a sense of its history wander the dense and fascinating warren of caruggi, the medieval alleyways that lead away from the port. Eventually you’ll emerge in Piazza de Ferrari, the city’s main square, situated between the historical and modern part of the city. In the middle of the square there’s a beautiful big fountain! It would be a shame not to make some time for lunch in one of the many quaint restaurants in the area. The local specialty is the pesto with pasta, such a simple and delicious dish, that it's hard to imagine it actually coming from one place in particular!

Like the rest of Italy, there are many unique churches to visit. Since it’s impossible to see them all, San Lorenzo Cathedral, which dates back to the 9th century, is a good choice.  The exterior white marble and grey stone horizontal strips, along with its asymmetrical towers, make it quite recognizable. Inside, the grand columns and arches are unembellished. Three naves make up the cathedral, and the mark of time is shown in the various stages of its creation; Roman, Gothic, and Renaissance.  Some of the original early medieval paintings have been restored.

Genoa is the only place known to have had the system of “Palazzi dei Rolli.” A Rolli Palace is the name given to the beautiful Renaissance and Baroque palaces throughout the city and concentrated on Via Garibaldi (also called Strade Nuove). The owners of these Rolli Palaces were obligated to host visiting dignitaries and royalty at their own expense. There are 42 Palazzi dei Rolli which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, dating from the 1500-1600’s and can be identified by the red diamond sign on the outside of each palace. The two most famous are the Palazza Rosso and Palazza Bianca, now art museums.

If you’re traveling with children, a visit to the aquarium is a fun-filled way to spend the day. The building itself is unusual, resembling a ship and built alongside a pier in the old harbor. The 71 tanks of more than 500 species faithfully reproduce the habitats of the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the world’s other bodies of water. The goal of the aquarium is to raise awareness about conservation and the sustainable use of aquatic environments.

Genoa is a city of beautiful churches, galleries, palaces, restaurants and one of the largest aquariums in Europe! It is a city full of simple pleasures, waiting to be discovered on your Mediterranean cruise.