Visit Genova in two days

Genova Porto e Lanterna - Photo © Hans Kremers
Genova Porto e Lanterna – Photo © Hans Kremers

Our tour begins down beside the busy harbor, in front of the great square Palazzo San Giorgio, former seat of the famous Bank which administered the economic wealth of the republic.

We are in the picturesque Piazza Caricamento, with its ancient Sottoripa Arcades which lead into the extremely narrow streets, or, carugi which run up towards the city proper.

Continuing towards the Lanterna, the lighthouse towering before us, we come to the Romanesque church of San Giovanni di Pre, with its Gothic bell-tower, next to which stands the 12th century Loggia lei Commendatori gerosolimitani. Taking the street next to the Principe Station, we reach Palazzo Doria Pamphili (1529) with frescoes by Perin del Vaga; it was here that the composer Verdi spent the last years of his life.

Coming back into Piazza Principe, we make our way to the famous Via Balbi, the entire length of which we shall visit. To the right is the richly-decorated Royal Palace with its sumptuous interior and magnificent garden: across the way, after the Church of San Carlo, stands the Palazzo dell’Universita (handsome arcaded courtyard; inside, six statues by Giant Bologna).

Carrying on, we find on our right the Palazzo Durazzo Pailavicini (17th century) with an imposing entrance hall (inside, a fine private collection of Van Dyck portraits); facing it is the Palazzo Balbi Senarega (containing another private collection, with works by Caravaggio, Titian, etc.).

Carruggio - Photo © eilart
Carruggio – Photo © eilart

Next door to the Palazzo Durazzo Pallavicini is the remarkable church of SS. Annunziata, with its grandiose interior, the most imposing in Liguria. A few steps further on and we can climb up to S. Maria del Carmine (15th century) with its handsome doorway.

Coming back down, by way of Via Vallechiara, Piazza Zecca and Via Cairoli, we turn into what is really a continuation of Via Balbi: Via Garibaldi with a majestic sequence of imposing palaces. At the beginning of the street, facing each other, are the Palazzo Bianco and the Palazzo Rosso, which house the two most important collections of paintings in the city.

We will end the morning with a visit to the former, which contains works by Ligurian painters, the most important being Luca Cambiaso, Strozzi and Magnasco; but there are also an altarpiece by Filippino Lippi (1503), a portrait by Ponlormo and an outstanding group of Flemish paintings (among them, the magnificent Triptych by G. David).

After, lunch, we shall visit the Palazzo Rosso gallery, which contains, not only a magnificent collection of Van Dycks, but also works by Veronese, Domenichino, Borer, Ribera, and Strozzi.

After Palazzo Bianco comes Palazzo Doria Tursi (or Municipale), one of the most impressive in Genoa (1564) and then an absolute series of 16th century palaces: to the right, those of the Serra, Adorno, Doria, Caudal and Garnbaro; and to the lelt, those of the Podesta, Spinola, Parodi and Cambiaso.

By way of Piazza Fontana Marose and the lively Piazza Corvette, we get to Via Roma and Piazza De Ferrari, the hub of present-day city life.

The narrow and picturesque Salita di S. Matteo takes us to the small, but wonderful black and white striped Church of San Matteo; all around are the medieval Mouses of the Dorias.

We then come down into the square fronting the 16th century Palazzo Reale, residence of the Genoese Doges which still preserves its 13th century appearance on one side.

Via del Campo - Photo © pavillon sully
Via del Campo – Photo © pavillon sully

A few steps more and we are at the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, with its marvelous Gothic facade and its 13th century doorways. The interior, with its impressive aisled nave, houses works of sculpture and painting, as well as an important Treasury. Particularly outstanding is the 13th century Chapel of S. Giovanni Battista.

And here we shall end our first day tour of Genoa.

Starting the next day from San Lorenzo, we visit the 16th century Loggia lei Bianchi, center of the business quarter of Genoa, and then proceed to the church of Nostra Signora delle vigne, with its Romanesque bell-tower and cloister. Back to Piazza San Lorenzo and down by way of Via Chiabrera and Piazza degli Embriaci, with its battlemented tower, we conic upon Santa Maria Assunta di Castello, a magnificent 11th century church set into the side of the hill.

From here, we go to Sant’Agostino with its unusual triangular cloister (inside the church the Ligurian Museum of Architecture and Sculpture). By descending the stradone of Sant’Agostino, we reach the small Romanesque church of San Donato with its magnificent polygonal bell-tower; and, inside, a masterpiece of Flemish painting: the triptych of the Adoration of the Magi by Joos Van Cleve.

Porto Antico - Photo © M**
Porto Antico – Photo © M**

Returning to Sant’Agostino, we continue to the stately Basilica of Santa Maria di Carignano (1552-1700) and then, down Via Fieschi, we come to Porta Sant’Andrea, a lofty Gothic construction with battlemented towers, next to which the fragile Cloister of Sant’Andrea has been re-assembled; also nearby is the House of Christopher Columbus. Continuing our descent and crossing Via Venti Settembre, we go down another stairway and come to the ancient church of Santo Stefano, very picturesquely situated.

Climbing once more brings us to the 16th century church of SS. Annunziata di Portoria better known as Santa Caterina:(it contains a glass coffin with the body of this Saint) with its handsome interior inthe form of nave and two aisles.

The afternoon may be devoted to a boat trip around the harbor, or an excursion in the hills, to visit the ancient walls and the massive fortresses which once protected the city.

Where to stay in Genoa

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