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Sandwiched between the mountains and the sea, Genoa is a concertina of a city, and full of surprises. Expect ridge-top forts, cable cars at dizzying heights, and tunnels burrowing under Unesco-listed palaces. Porto Antico, the redesigned waterfront, is centre stage, framed by bars built into ancient arcades and the superb Aquarium. The city centre is mostly pedestrianised, and made up of a maze of medieval streets called carrugi. Look upwards to discover secret friezes and frescoes. Sample the local fish grill, pasta and pesto, accompanied by Ligurian white wine. Let the city wash over you; Genoa is more a city of more senses than just sight.
Main City Rome
Surface 243.60 km²
This old-world inn, Antica Cantina I Tre Merli, is a traditional haunt and still serves authentic Genovese food in an atmosphere in Genoa where time stands still. It’s a 600-year-old palazzo yet manages to remain cosy and unpretentious. Apart from fresh fish and healthy tapas, tuck into basil-infused dishes, such as trofie al pesto, with squiggles of pasta drenched in emerald-green pesto. Or try pansotti con salsa di noce, local ravioli in a creamy walnut sauce. The inn’s sexier younger sister is Ristorante I Tre Merli, on Porto Antico (+39 010 246 4416), which belongs to the same family. The original spot is best unless you’re there to pose.
Known as Klainguti to locals, this pasticceria is one of the best pastry shops in Genoa. Founded in 1826 by two Swiss brothers who missed the boat to America, Klainguti became their sweet consolation. Designed in retro style, mixing Art Nouveau and Art Deco, the pastry shop lies in the prettiest part of the Old Town, spilling out onto a piazza just made for tucking into pastries - from marzipan concoctions to pear tarts, crystallised violets and the signature zabaglione sweet. In summer, linger over a homemade ice-cream on the terrace, or in autumn, opt for a hazelnut brioche inside.
Set in the Old Dockyards, Galata Museo del Mare is an underrated maritime museum, a great introduction to Genoa as a cosmopolitan seafaring nation where you can learn all about local boy Christopher Columbus and his voyages of discovery. Get to grips with Roman galleys and 17th century galleons, as well as the wave of emigration to the United States. Moored alongside the main museum is the largest submarine on display in Italy, viewed from a glass platform. The maritime museum’s waterfront setting is also impressive, part of the city’s revival, which includes the exciting Porto Antico, revamped by local architect Renzo Piano.