Monday, March 26, 2018

The Historic Center of Genoa, Italy

One place that is a must see when visiting Genoa, Italy, is the Historic Center that lies behind the walls of the city. My husband's cousins took us here one day to enjoy a stroll together, see the sights and have dinner. We took the excellent Genoa Metro towards the eastern gates of the old city. Seeing the juxtaposition of the modern motorcycle means of transportation in Genoa, with the ancient towers, made me smile.  Genoa is noted for its many examples of medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Gothic architecture. The Ducal Palace, San Lorenzo Cathedral. Church of San Matteo, and Palazzo San Giogio are some of the most important historical monuments.

Right outside the city walls is the  House-Museum of Christopher Columbus, who was born in 1451, and was the explorer who was credited with discovering the Americas in 1492, is an 18th-century reconstruction of the original building where he lived in his youth. It was destroyed during the French bombings of 1684.

The magnificent Porta Soprana (also known as Porta Sant'Andrea) is one of the many openings in the ancient Walls of Genoa. In 1155, the Genoese feared an attack by Frederick Barbarossa and created a circuit of walls enclosing the majority of the city.  

A plaque inside the Porta Soprana entrance translates roughly as "I am defended by soldiers and surrounded by amazing walls.....If you come in peace, you may touch these doors. If you come looking for war, you will retreat sad and defeated..."

Right inside the gate were the ruins of an ancient Cloister of Sant'Andrea, once part of a monastery in the 11th century.

Click on to enlarge

The Historic Center of Genoa is made up of many buildings with narrow alleys called "caruggi." We walked along admiring the many shops, restaurants and personal residences located there.

High above were many different towers that caught my eye.

On many buildings throughout the center were wonderfully detailed religious statues

While we walked around we could hear many different church bells ringing at noon. Click on the video above to hear them.

Duomo di Genova or Cattedrale San Lorenzo * Church of Genoa or Cathedral of Saint Lawrence) was built between the 12th and 14th century. It is one of the most important churches in Genoa and the symbol of the city.  A church has been located here since Roman times.  During World War II on the 9th of February 1941, the British battleship fired a bomb into the Genoa's cathedral. The bomb reached the church, punched the cathedral roof and did not explode! That event was called the Saint Lawrence miracle. It is still possible to see the bomb that was left in the church. 

The facade of the cathedral is very ornate! Lions flank both sides of the stairs, with gargoyles above them.

Inside the cathedral.

We were able to go up these steps towards the second level of the church and then all the way to the top of the bell tower.

 Views from the second level of the cathedral

The panoramic view from the top of the belltower.The modern part of Genoa can be seen in the distance as well as the lighthouse called the LanternaA nearby church's dome was under wraps as the church was undergoing reconstruction.

The church of Santa Maria Delle Vigne (Saint Mary of the Vine--named for the vineyards that once surrounded it.) was constructed in the 10th century and it is very plain from the outside.

Click on to emlarge
Inside it was very opulent with gilded accents and beautiful murals.  The main altar was reconstructed in 1730

The Palazzo Ducale was once home to the Doges of Genoa.
It is now a museum and center for cultural events and art exhibitions. 

 Click on to enlarge

This collage tells the story of Giano's Well. Legend has it that is how Genoa was named

One day was not enough to explore all the interesting historic center of Genoa, to visit all its churches, or shops or cafes, but we had an enjoyable time seeing what we did and know that when we return to Genoa we will go back to see more!

We returned to the neighborhood we were staying in, close to the soccer stadium, and had dinner that evening at a fabulous seafood restaurant called Da Marcello. There we had traditional Pesto Genoese pasta, frittata, and an amazing assortment of seafood. We enjoyed the food so much we returned a few more times during our visit!

It's time to hop on a motorcycle and tour more of Italy in my future posts. Ciao, Genoa!

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Su-sieee! Mac said...

The architecture is so beautiful. I see what you mean. I could spend days wandering and sitting and looking in Genoa.

Molly said...

Yet another place I want to visit


Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

It must have been hard to tear yourself away from that beautiful City! Those alleyways...imagine living there! Wouldn’t that be amazing? The views from the top of the church tower are the crowning glory to the visit to that historic and beautiful place... everything was wonderful...and that food (speaking of being hard to tear yourself away).. oh my goodness it looks great. I’m really enjoying your tour and so glad you have these great pictures and memories to share.

Cathy Keller said...

Your illustrated tours are always so informative. I love to read all the history and details. Thank you! I especially enjoyed the photo of the motorcycles! Have a wonderful week1

Gillena Cox said...

Wonderful photos and celebration here today. We were in his discovery on his third voyage. He saw the three mountain peaks and praised The Trinity we are now called Trinidad of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Happy Mosaic Monday

much love...


Ann said...

Magnificent views on your visit, the churches are my favorite of the structures. What a glorious part of history that is still intact.

NC Sue said...

So very beautiful!
Thanks for linking up at

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Your commentary helped keep the tour easy to follow. Thank you. There is so much to see and know it helps to have a great guide!

Ruth Hiebert said...

I am always intrigued with that old architecture. Back then they put so many intricate details into the buildings.

Linda W. said...

What a wonderful city! I really enjoyed your latest report from Italy.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

You really do give us a treat with the photos and everything you write. Are we really going to get on a motorcycle next? OH MY...I'm skeeeered! heehee! Hugs, Diane

Vee said...

Wonderful the tolling bells in Genoa. Your posts on the sights you share are always delightful and come the closest of anything to tugging on my interest in travel. Some day...maybe. One never knows! I do know that I shan’t be hopping on a motorcycle. Did you?

jeannettestgermain said...

Love the Italian inner cities with the narrow alleys -so romantic! How nice of your cousins to take a walk! And you didn't only walk, but also eat:):) The first time I saw stripes on a building was in Cingue Terre. Had to get used to, but they're fabulous! We saw the motor cycles/scooters in China, but didn't expect them in Italy. But after a week being there, I know why they're so popular - so handy in these narrow streets! Many thanks for sharing with All Seasons your outing in Genoa, that beautiful city! Have a great week, Pat!

Angie said...

Pat - you are satisfying my Italian wanderlust with these posts. Yummy in every way. The walls and the Porta must have been daunting in their day; now they are romantic in the sunshine. I am entranced with the alleys, especially the ones with open shutters. I want to know who gets to live in such a lovely setting! And of course, the cathedrals and churches - there aren't enough adjectives to compliment the architecture and the grandeur! Have a wonderful week!

Pietro Brosio said...

Delightful sights of Genoa!

Maggie said...

What a fabulous tour of Genoa you've taken us on, simply amazing. You & I have both blogged about a cathedral this week they look quite similar don't they especially the crypt and the nave.

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A Colorful World said...

What an amazing place to visit! I loved so much about this historic magical area of Genoa. Loved the plaque on the Porta walls, the beautiful cathedrals, and the bells. It was all so wonderful!

Kay L. Davies said...

You were certainly able to visit and photograph much of Genoa in your short visit...I admire your energy as much as I admire your beautiful photographs.
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Lady Fi said...

So pretty and such lovely architecture.

Fun60 said...

What a beautiful city. I love the narrow streets and the churches and so much more. Thanks for the tour.

ellen b. said...

So much history in this part of the world. Beautiful architecture and such a beautiful church. You took great photos and have given us good information.

betty-NZ said...

What a fascinating and beautiful city! So much to see and learn all around you--wow!

Jim said...

Beautiful shots.

Lowcarb team member said...

Another lovely post ... both your photographs and the information you give are wonderful. There is so much History and that Church is just beautiful.

Look forward to the next post.

All the best Jan

Ruth Rieckehoff said...

I really like this city (from what I have seen in your pictures, I have never been). I enjoy walking around historic center admiring the architecture and watching people from a cafe. Like always, it is so good to see your posts about Italy ending with great food photos.

podso said...

You give such great tours! Enjoyed your wonderful photos and trying to envision being there myself, which you make easy!

diane b said...

A great account of your visit to Genoa. The history in these places is astounding. The food looks pretty good too.

Sharon said...

Amazing Italian architecture. And dating back to the 11th century. I love those narrow alleyways, too. What a privilege to visit Genoa.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Genoa is a much underappreciated city. The facade of the cathedral is so exquisite, and I really love exploring all those palaces and carruggi. So glad you got the chance to visit and enjoy this city, Pat.

indah nuria Savitri said...

This is really an incredible and historic place! Went here in 2011 and love it!

handmade by amalia said...

You always take us to the nicest places, Pat.

Nora said...

Wow those are amazing photos! I would love to travel but I can't so i really enjoyed my visit to your blog as it was like virtual travel for me, I am sure I put another comment on here but it does not show up.