In the Land of Sailors
Genoa City is the gateway to the Italian Riviera and the great communication route between the Mediterranean and Europe. In 1992, to mark the fifth anniversary of America’s discovery, was completely refurbished to become one of the main city’s entertainment areas, in the heart of the city. One of the elements that attracted the most attention is the beautiful wooden galleon built for Polanski’s film Pirates.
But the true symbol of the city is the Lantern, the great lighthouse of Genoa, with its 76 meters high San Benigno, is the pride of the Genoese and offers fantastic views over the city to visit it. Next to the tower you can visit the Museo della Lanterna.
In this city so related to the sea, we find the largest aquarium in Europe of aquatic biodiversity, theAquarium of Genoa which is in the same port, with over 15,000 animals of 400 different species among sharks, penguins, manatees, Antarctic animals, jellyfish and tropical fish, a journey which takes about three hours. Galata is located next to the Museum of the Sea and Navigation, dedicated to the deep sea and Genoese navigation history.
Another place closely related to their maritime culture is the Museo Delle Culture Del Mondo, at Castello d’Albertis, Florentine style. Enrico d’Albertis was another Genoese writer and navigator and circled the world three times and circumnavigated Africa in search of archaeological excavations. The museum includes these interesting ethnographic and archaeological collections Enrique d’Albertis collected in his travels around the world.
The historic center of Genoa is especially beautiful, though a bit chaotic with this mix of buildings and streets that form a labyrinth. Here lived the rich merchants of the time, in sumptuous Gothic buildings have been converted into museums or modern shops.
Finally, a note on the Genoese cuisine made with fresh and simple products. You have to try a vegetable focaccia with a splash of olive oil or the different types of pasta stuffed which one you like best, such as ravioli or corzetti. Vegetable dishes and numerous seafood recipes, fish soups, fried fish or crispy cod fritters and specialties like ciuppin or buridda.
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Cinque Terre, the five beautiful villages
Cinque Terre (Five Lands) is the name of the 10 kilometers long seacoast that goes from Punto Mesco to Punta di Montenero, including five villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, aligned in this order if you come from Genoa.
They are part of the Liguria region -with Genoa as the capital city- and not just five random villages. Along with Portovenere and the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, the setting was declared World Heritage site and it’s considered one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
These five traditional villages have some odd architectural characteristics. For instance, most of the houses were built on the steep rocks of the coast and are somehow suspended between the sea and the land.
These are little fishing villages, very well preserved over the years, protected against the massive urban growth and not altering the delicate ecological balance.
From Genoa you can reach Cinque Terre easily by train, taking the regional train that goes from Genoa to Pisa and across all these villages. This is the best option to get to Spezia province, because traffic to vehicles in the narrow cobbled streets of the Cinque Terre villages is limited.
Therefore, the best option is to walk within the routes that connect all the five fishing villages, to discover stunning landscapes, beaches, hills and pines forests. The most famous is the Blue Route, a 12 kilometers walk. Or, if you’re looking for something easier, get the Via dell'Amore, between Riomaggiore and Manarola, with a nice view over the Liguria coast.
At Cinque Terre you’ll enjoy a colorful mosaic in one of the most beautiful areas in the Mediterranean Sea. Also the gastronomy, with regional specialties and great fresh fish from the area or wines with their own designation of origin, like the delicious Sciacchetrà.
Riomaggiore by rdesai | Manarola by Mathias Ripp | Corniglia by sailko | Vernazza by AnticheSere | Monterrosso by Mauricio Pellegrinetti
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The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno
The magnificent sea port of Genoa, situated in the north of Italy, is the perfect spot for a two-day getaway. There you can discover the jewels yielded by the sediment of numerous stories that took place in that city over the years.
The old harbour is undoubtedly Genoa’s major attraction. To mark the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America – one of the city’s most celebrated citizens was Christopher Columbus – the harbour was renovated, a make-over that was long overdue. The result of that restoration includes the Bigo, a futuristic structure designed by Renzo Piano affording interesting views over the city, in addition to the Aquarium, the Biosphere and the Galata Sea Museum, one of the largest marine exhibitions in Europe.
But, apart from its harbour, the capital of Liguria offers many other enticements, such as strolling through the Old Town and wandering around the caruggi or dark, narrow back streets. Also worth visiting are the Palazzi dei Rolli, a system of 16th- and 17th-century Renaissance and Baroque palaces, forty-two of which are listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Not to be missed either are Genoa Cathedral, dedicated to St Lawrence, and the spectacular Piazza de Ferrari. For those eager to delve into Italy’s history, the place to head for is the Museo del Risorgimento, housed in the erstwhile residence of Giuseppe Mazzini, a key figure in the unification of the country.
The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno
Apart from these monuments and landmarks, which you are sure to come across in the course of any tourist itinerary through the city, Genoa has another unusual attraction well worth visiting, the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno. Located on the outskirts of Genoa, on a hillside next to the Bisagno Valley in the Staglieno district, lies one of Europe’s largest cemeteries, celebrated for its interesting sculptural and architectural ensembles on tombs and pantheons.
The construction of cemeteries on the outskirts of towns got under way after the 1804 Napoleonic Edict of Saint-Cloud, by which burials in churches or within city walls were banned. In the case of Genoa, Carlo Barabino was tasked with designing the city’s new cemetery in 1835. Construction work began in 1844 and the precinct was inaugurated in 1851, although building continued until 1880. The precinct was extended over time and areas dedicated to other religions were added, notably the Jewish, Orthodox, Protestant and English cemeteries – the latter houses the tomb of Oscar Wilde’s wife, Constance Lloyd.
Its origins coincide with the rise of a markedly affluent bourgeoisie, intent on extolling their merits for posterity, to which end they commissioned artists to adorn their opulent mausoleums. These artists included such sculptors as Leonardo Bistolfi, Augusto Rivalta, Giulio Monteverde and Edoardo Alfieri.
A walk through this graveyard effectively becomes a tour of the different art styles that emerged in the 19th and 20th century, as visitors are regaled with works of Neoclassicism, Symbolism, Liberty and Art Deco. This is augmented by the presence of nature, in the guise of plant growth interspersed among the various architectural features, making for an unsettling yet inspiring experience.
Many a visitor has succumbed to the charms of this monumental cemetery. Friedrich Nietzsche and Paul Rée used to discuss philosophy as they strolled through it, while Hemingway described it as “One of the wonders of the world”. Peter Saville, for his part, used photos by Bernard Pierre Wolff of some of the sculptures in the cemetery when he designed the Joy Division album covers for Love Will Tear Us Apart and Closer.
Book your Vueling to this fantastic Mediterranean city – discover its old harbour, stroll through itscaruggi,soak up the beauty of its palaces and drop in on this very special cemetery.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUISmore info
The city of vermouth
In general the rule is that the further north you go in Italy, the more entrenched is the habit to enjoy the appetizer. Not surprisingly, the Piedmont area is known for the production of vermouth with brands such as Martini, Cinzano and Carpano.
The vermouth was invented in the cellar of Antonio Carpano’s in Turin in 1786 and from there the Piedmontese nobility made it fashionable. There are other versions that trace their origin to Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician who mixed white wine with plants like the wormwood to create a beverage for medicinal purposes. But it was not until 1838 that the brothers Giuseppe and Luigi Cora began to develop it industrially and distributed it worldwide.
Now the word vermouth has a more generic meaning. It refers both to the drink and to eat a tapa before lunch. In Italy the starter is not at noon as in Spain, but after work. It usually starts from 18:00 and end at 21:00 AM and is an economical way to take a break from work while sipping a drink and snacks, which can be alcoholic or not.
A very common option is the spritz, -with aperol, champagne, an orange slice and ice- the Negroni -with gin, campari, vermouth and an orange slice- the mascerotti -with wine, soda and champagne- or the Amaretti di Voltaggio, which goes along with their famous focaccia, savory pastries and other delicacies.
In Genoa, a port where botanical species from around the world arrived, the habit is strictly fulfilled and the tastiest appetizers are prepared. Here vermouth is a deeply ingrained habit, a social act that almost no one renounces. A moment to enjoy after work, listening to the tinkling of ice crashing.
You can have it in the historical premises or in the modern establishments that agglutinate especially in the Piazza delle Erbe, San Donato, Via San Bernardo or Porto Antico area.
Here’s the theory, now let's put it into practice!
Pasticceria Liquoreria Marescottis Cavo
Via di Fossatello, 35R and 37R
In the old town of Genoa, -the largest medieval quarter in Europe- you can find this historic café, bakery and liquor store. A local that dates back from the eighteenth century, which retains its old Charles X style furniture and a floor designed by Rubens himself. Tourists come to the establishment to observe the "prettiest pastry Genoa", to try their high quality confectionery and the Marescotti appetizer, a herbal vermouth.
You must keep an open mind to find the restaurant on the first floor because they have no sign.
Via di San Donato, 36R
Another historic local is Le Corbusier, specialists in cocktails-some self-created- and that has gained prestigious national and international awards. Martini itself can be found in twelve different variants.
Caffè il Barbarossa
Piano di Sant Andrea 23
With an enviable location -very close to the house where Christopher Columbus lived-, and one of the most fun places to enjoy the most original appetizer in Genoa with its pleasant outdoor area, especially during summer.
The Caffè Barbarossa offers a wide range of whiskeys, cocktails and international wines and sparkling Genoese, in their restaurant, you will find vegetarian and vegan dishes. Look closely at their walls where the original rates of the brothels of the historical town hang.
Libreria delle Erbe
Piazza delle Erbe, 25R
An old bookstore downtown now transformed into a modern place. It still retains the spirit of the literary coffee -to consult and buy books-but, while enjoying cultural interventions you can also have a good coffee, snacks, cocktails, wines and beers.
They have a full weekly program of activities for lovers of art and culture.
Picture by Termolan
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