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Things To See In Genoa On Your Next Weekend Getaway

There are amazing things to see in Genoa, which is one of Italy’s most important ports on the Mediterranean sea and it’s a great weekend trip from Rome.

Best Weekend Getaway - Downtown Genoa, Italy

Downtown Genoa, Italy

Living in Rome has many benefits, which include Italian food, wine, culture and weather. In addition, it provides easy access to other places in Italy that can be weekend getaways from Rome. We try to spend weekends away when our schedules and our finances permit this and earlier this year we took a long weekend trip to Genoa (Genova).

Currently, Genova is the busiest port in Italy and historically it was one of the most powerful maritime republics. It is the sixth largest city in Italy.

Is Genoa and Genova The Same Place In Italy?

Yes, Genoa is the pronunciation that we use in English, but Genova is the proper Italian spelling and pronunciation. Neither, however, are the fictitious country of Genovia that you might remember from The Princess Diaries.

Things To See In Genoa - The Old Port of Genoa

The Old Port of Genoa

Things To See In Downtown Genoa, Italy

Genova has a Mediterranean climate that is strongly moderated by the sea. It is a windy city, especially in the winter, with its sporadic, but annual snowfalls. The summers are humid and the heavy rains are usually in October and November, like the rest of Italy. One of the reasons that Genova is a great weekend getaway from Rome is because of the nicer temperatures in the summer. After experiencing a hot Roman summer, the 15° difference makes a big benefit to me.

Our Favorite Things To See in Genova

The Christopher Columbus Statue

Since living in Italy, and even a little before, I was surprised at the attitudes that Italians seemed to have about Christopher Columbus (Cristoforo Colombo). He is considered a culture icon for Italian/Americans in the US, but in Italy the opinions are generally: Meh. He is viewed as just one of many explorers of the time and considering he was sailing for Spain when he “discovered” the Americas, not many Italians spend much time thinking about him. In Genova, his birthplace, there is a statue right outside the main train station that celebrates him and I had heard that the best known celebration of Columbus was in Genova in 1992, the 500th anniversary of his famous journey.

The Galleon Neptune

Our favorite site in Genova is the Neptune. Currently a tourist attraction in the port, the Neptune is a replica of a 17th-century Spanish galleon designed by Naval Architect David Cannell and it was the principal setting for Roman Polanski’s film “Pirates” as a result of several years’ research and hard work.

Things To See In Genoa - Cannons On The Neptune

Cannons On The Neptune

Intended originally as no more than a simple floating stage, through the efforts of the film producer Mr. Tarak Ben Ammar, it turned into an authentic three-masted ship 203 feet long by 52 feet wide capable of sailing on the high seas at a speed of 5 knots. Building the Neptune took two years and cost $8.2 million.

Building The Neptune

Building the ship was supervised by the steelworkers at Socomena in Bizerte, Tunisia in conjunction with the Maltese shipyards.

Things To See In Genoa - Lines On The Neptune

Lines On The Neptune

The galleon was assembled in Tunisia and launched in March 1985. Carthago films decided to convert the Neptune into a permanent exhibition of “Pirates” and open it to the public. In 2011, the Neptune portrayed the Jolly Roger, the ship of Captain Hook, in the TV miniseries Neverland.

A Weekend Trip Spent Eating in Genova

Another of the things that makes Genova one of the best weekend trips from Rome is the food. When we travel to coastal towns I like to eat more seafood than I typically do in Rome. Luckily, Genova is well known for its fresh seafood, in addition to the best pesto in the world and salty focaccia that can be eaten for breakfast without getting any strange looks.

In addition to the focaccia that we enjoyed for breakfast, after having an unsatisfying coffee in our hotel the first morning, we ventured out and enjoyed some delicious local coffee, and national brands, in the bars along via Balbi.

Things To See In Genoa - Mamacita’s Mexican Restaurant

Mamacita’s Mexican Restaurant in Genoa

One of our first sit-down meals was a bit unusual. We had been in Italy for 9 months and we both realized once we saw the sign for Taqueria Mamacita’s (Via di Prè, 115/R) that we had a craving for Mexican food. We were more than 6,000 miles from Mexico City, so we made sure our expectations were correctly calibrated. We were pleasantly surprised by everything, including chips, salsa, tacos, the beers and especially the friendly service. We thought our son would be the only person who would appreciate our humor, so we bought him a Mamacitas t-shirt.

Things To See In Genoa - Baked Cod

Baked Cod Covered with Potatoes

Most of our meals were eaten while we were walking around. We didn’t really plan to do this and it caused some difficulties because of the importance of making a reservation, which is something we still forget to do. We did, however, make a reservation at our favorite restaurant in Genova, Antica Osteria di Vico Palla. We started with a mix of fried seafood, which was fried perfectly and delicious. After that, I had the most delicious Baccalà baked with potatoes and onions that I’ve ever eaten in my life. I finished with some coffee and an apple crumble that was also a new favorite. I can’t recommend this restaurant strongly enough.

Are The Things To See In Genova, Italy Worth Visiting?

Walking around Genova is one of the great charms of the city. It is small enough that you can get a good feel for it while winding around the tight streets, stopping for cocktails or getting some dinner. The areas where it seemed most of the locals were taking their evening strolls were well lit, populated, but not too crowded and very safe. The area around the port is the opposite at night. Enjoy it during the day with your family, but avoid this desolate area in the dark evenings.

Is Genova Safe?

Genova is typical for a European city in that it is generally safe and a visitor shouldn’t have any concerns about visiting the city, walking around, taking public transportation and talking to strangers. Unlike in the US, most crime you could encounter is nonviolent, like purse-snatching or pickpocketing, and gun violence is exceedingly rare.

The Best Weekend Trip From Rome

Given its close distance, beauty and food, Genova, Italy is a fantastic escape from the Roman heat of the summer. Jump on a nonstop FrecciaBianca from Termini Station and you will be in Genova in around 5 hours.

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