Dreams of Pesto and Possibility
Genoa, the capital of the Liguria region, is where you'll find the real Italy. Where nonna talks with her hands and laundry is still hung out to dry on Juliet-style balconies. Playing second or even third fiddle to the boot's bigger gems of Venice, Florence and Rome, Genoa's charms lie in the elegantly dilapidated narrow lanes where the everyday mundane takes place.
Genoa is home to two main train stations with connections to cities near and far. Milan can be reached in just about 90 minutes; Turin in less than two hours. Rome is approximately five hours away. The city is incredibly accessible, and yet, many don't stop and see what's being missed. Travel with ease using a Eurail Italy Pass.
The Genovese are a proud people – and for good reason. The city's glory days long behind, they can still cling to once being the most important maritime center during the Roman Empire. Within the old medieval walls, much hasn't changed since Genovese ships launched raids on the Venetians. Today, the port is lined with shops, cafes and boulevards along the water where you can daydream of exploration. Probably like Christopher Columbus did when he was growing up here in Genoa. The town is permeated with the explorer's memory. You can even visit his supposed childhood home, a small ivy-clad house, just outside the Porta Soprana.
Genoa isn't without its architectural gems. There are plenty of palazzos on parade in between the alleyways. On Via Garibaldi, Genoa's most beautiful street, the 16th century Palazzo Bianco houses an outstanding collection of Genoese art. At the Palazzo Rosso, Carravaggio's Ecce Homo (Man of Sorrows) can be viewed. The Palazzo Ducale, where the Dukes of Genoa used to live, also contains important masterpieces. The Palazzo Reale was used by the kings of Savoy and has an ornate 17 th century interior.
With its prominent seaside location, it makes sense that you'd find Europe's biggest aquarium. Over a million landlubbers visit this water wonderland each year. Next door is the Porto Antico, an entertainment area with museums, movie theaters, cafés and also a beautiful promenade along the sea. It's a beautiful spot to stop for a bite and taste Liguria's most mouth-watering import – pesto. Crafted of olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and basil, top off a pile of penne with this delicious sauce. Another must try is a basket of focaccia bread, which also originated here. Topped with olive oil, salt and a little bit of white wine, this is a simple, delectable treat. Just like the rest of Genoa.
Paolo Coelho wrote, "Among the marvels of Italy, it will take some digging to find the beauties of Genoa, but it is worth visiting." This is the simple wonder of traveling; walking through a maze of streets, discovering its true taste. Genoa can be a little salty around the edges, but with time, you'll find the sweetness within.
Contributed by: Lothaire, a Marketing Manager in the eBusiness team, has lived 4 years in Paris and used to take overnight trips on the Eurostar to go clubbing in London.