Pesto and palaces: the heart-warming Italian city of Genoa

Beth Robson reminisces on her trip with her friends to the heart-warming city of Genoa, Italy.

Beth Robson
1st December 2019
Feature Image Credits: Maurizio Beatrici from Wikicommons (CC BY-SA 4.0)
To celebrate finishing our A-Levels in 2016, my friends and I planned a trip to the medieval city of Genoa, Italy. Uninterested by the typical tourist spots for young people, we wanted to visit somewhere where we could soak up the country's culture free of tourist traps and cheap booze. Genoa did not leave us disappointed!

Our plane began its descent to the runway as we quickly approached Cristoforo Colombo airport. We’d been flying for five-and-a-half hours at this point and we were excited to finally arrive. Surrounding us was some of the vast and beautiful mountain range of Parco Naturale delle Capanne di Marcarolo; an amazing warm-welcome to the capital of Liguria, Genoa. When we touched down, we quickly got on a coach to the City Centre where we met our hosts who took us to where we would be staying for the next five days.

Our accommodation was far from the ordinary hotel room and only a stone’s throw from the popular Piazza De Ferrari (where a Bollywood film happened to be filmed whilst we were there!). Nestled away in one of Genoa’s hundreds (if not thousands) of tiny medieval streets, stood an old convent which had been turned into a gorgeous apartment complex with all of the original structure still intact. The place exuded regality (despite its humble beginnings), and its history could be felt in every wall and ancient door. As we looked out of our lounge window, we weren’t met with the usual tourist-friendly view – no, there was no grand view of the sea or harbour, but instead straight into the kitchen of our Italian neighbour! It didn’t feel touristy; instead we felt very much like we were dropped into the centre of Genoa and were experiencing life very much like the locals did.

As we made our way out into the city to explore, we found over the five days that we were there many small family-owned restaurants and cafes in the ancient streets of the city that were more than welcoming of us (and our terrible but well intended attempts at Italian). A memorable spot for me was a small gelato shop called ‘U gelato du Caruggiu’, where we were fed many amazing and creative flavours of home-made gelato by a wonderful and enthusiastic elderly gentleman. We went back to this shop a few times during our stay to escape the blistering heat or treat ourselves to a late-night snack, and every time we were met with heartfelt Italian hospitality and kindness; if you’re thinking of visiting Genoa, do add this shop to your must-sees! If like me you’re a foodie, Genoa is the perfect place to visit if you want to try real, authentic Italian seafood or pesto. Alongside the copious amounts of pizza that I consumed whilst visiting, it was a real treat to be able to try some locally sourced and made Genoese pesto on homemade pasta – British pesto has never come close since! As café culture is popular in Italy, you must also make note to go to some cafes in the morning for breakfast where you can help yourself to freshly brewed cappuccinos, focaccia, and baked goods!

"Crisp white sculptures of highly regarded Italian nobility and rulers, grand galleries, and breath-taking gardens; all of this a marker of Genoa’s history and economical importance."

This trip wasn’t all about food though! As a lover of arts, culture, and history, the prospect of visiting Genoa was incredibly exciting as it houses the ‘Palazzi dei Rolli’; a group of 16th to 17th century palaces that are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Think of your typical Italian royalty and upper-class way of living and you can find it all in the stunning palaces along ‘Le Strade Nuovo’. Crisp white sculptures of highly regarded Italian nobility and rulers, grand galleries, and breath-taking gardens; all of this a marker of Genoa’s history and economical importance. If you’re less inclined towards art and would rather do some sight-seeing, Genoa has some beautiful trips on offer. We booked a boat trip along the Italian Riviera to Moneglia, a Genoese commune two-and-a-half hours away from the City Centre. Along the way we stopped in many little harbours, the most famous being Porto Fino. Moneglia, known for its white sand beaches and olive farms in the over-looking hills, is a popular holiday resort and it’s understandable to see why with phenomenal ocean views, fantastic food, and rocky bays.

Image Credit: Beth Robson

By the end of our trip we had all fallen in love with Genoa; from the unbeatable food and cultural sights, to the hustle and bustle of the mopeds zooming around the City Centre, our trip had enlightened us to the beauty of Italian culture. 

Feature Image Credits: Maurizio Beatrici from Wikicommons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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