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The city of Genoa: Home of Acquario di Genova


Nestled on Italy’s northwestern coastline, you’ll find the enchanting city of Genoa. A city steeped in rich history, Genoa is an intriguing tapestry that weaves together the old and the new, displaying an impressive array of architectural treasures, vibrant cultural scenes and an enticing aroma of its famous gastronomy.

As Italy’s largest seaport, Genoa has been a mariner’s haven since ancient times, its maritime heritage playing a vital role in shaping its unique character. But beyond its glimmering waters, Genoa captivates visitors with its labyrinthine alleyways, grand palaces, and the acclaimed Acquario di Genova, a marine sanctuary that promises an immersive journey beneath the waves.

Attractions in Genoa

Genoa is a treasure trove of attractions that cater to diverse interests. Architecture enthusiasts will be spellbound by the city’s Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces, and the UNESCO-listed Rolli Palaces are a testament to Genoa’s illustrious past. These regal residences, once home to Genoa’s aristocratic families, now serve as museums, art galleries, and cultural centres, offering visitors a glimpse into the city’s golden age.

For those captivated by Genoa’s maritime heritage, the Old Port area is replete with charm and history. The regenerated harbour area, masterminded by famous architect Renzo Piano, features attractions such as the Biosphere, a tropical environment filled with unusual plants and birds, and the Bigo, an elevator offering panoramic views of the city and the sea. Amidst this, the crowning glory remains the Acquario di Genova, which stands as Europe’s largest aquarium, housing over 15,000 sea creatures.

The city’s network of narrow alleyways, known as ‘caruggi’, provides an authentic taste of Genoese life. Here, amidst laundry strung between windows and locals engaged in friendly conversation, you’ll find a plethora of trattorias serving rustic Genoese cuisine, artisan shops selling local crafts, and small piazzas that are perfect for a leisurely espresso. These labyrinthine lanes are a microcosm of Genoa itself – a little chaotic, absolutely charming, and endlessly fascinating.

The Genoa Zoo (Acquario di Genoa)

Situated in the heart of the city, the Acquario di Genoa is not just an aquarium but a window to a magical underwater world. Established in 1992 and expanded in 1998, it is the largest aquarium in Italy and among the largest in Europe.

With 70 tanks housing over 15,000 animals from 400 species, the Acquario di Genoa is a mesmerising homage to marine biodiversity. Visitors are treated to a spectacular array of marine life, including sharks, dolphins, penguins, manatees, and myriad colourful tropical fish.

While the aquarium is renowned for its marine exhibits, it also houses fascinating terrestrial species. Walking through its corridors, you enter different world ecosystems from the Antarctic to the Amazon rainforest. The Acquario di Genoa is not merely a place of entertainment but also a hub of education and scientific research. It aims to raise awareness about environmental issues and the need for sustainable practices to preserve our planet’s ecosystems.

Visiting the Acquario di Genoa is akin to embarking on a global expedition, a journey that spans continents and plunges to the ocean depths, offering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the world’s biodiversity. Whether you are a marine life enthusiast, a budding biologist, or simply looking for a fun-filled family day out, the Acquario di Genoa is a must-visit destination in Genoa.

History of the city of Genoa

Stepping back in time, the city of Genoa has a history that’s as colourful as its present. Founded by the ancient Ligurians and later expanded by the Romans, Genoa flourished into a powerful maritime republic in the Middle Ages.

Its strategic location made it a coveted hub for trade in the Mediterranean, rivalling the likes of Venice and Pisa. This was Genoa’s golden era, an epoch marked by burgeoning wealth, artistic patronage, and architectural prowess, the evidence of which still graces the city’s streets today.

However, Genoa’s journey through time wasn’t always smooth sailing. The city witnessed periods of foreign domination, conflicts, and plagues. Yet with each challenge, Genoa emerged resilient, rebuilding and reshaping itself.

The 19th century heralded a new chapter for the city as it played a pivotal role in Italy’s unification. Genoa was the birthplace of Giuseppe Mazzini, a key figure in the Risorgimento movement, marking the city as a crucible of Italy’s journey to nationhood.

Throughout its history, Genoa has been a city of explorers and adventurers, the most famous of whom is Christopher Columbus, whose voyages across the Atlantic opened new chapters in global history. Today, Genoa continues to celebrate its illustrious past while embracing the future, a city where history and modernity intertwine, creating a unique tapestry that continues to captivate visitors from all over the world.

The vivid culture of Genoa

Genoa’s culture is as vibrant and colourful as the city itself, reflecting the rich tapestry of its history, traditions, and influences. From its lively arts scene to its distinctive culinary traditions, this spirited city brims with cultural treasures. The Genoese have a deep-seated appreciation for music and theatre, which is evident in its array of opera houses, theatres, and music festivals.

Genoa was even named a UNESCO City of Music in 2015, testament to its rich musical heritage. The city also annually hosts the International Poetry Festival, attracting poets and literary enthusiasts from around the world.

Food is an integral aspect of Genoese culture, with the city boasting an array of gastronomic delights. Genoa is the birthplace of pesto, a popular Italian sauce made from basil, garlic, pine nuts, and cheese.

Other local specialities include ‘focaccia’, a delightful oven-baked bread, and ‘farinata’, a scrumptious chickpea pancake. The city’s historical ‘caruggi’ (alleyways) are dotted with cosy trattorias, where one can savour these culinary treats.

Moreover, Genoa’s culture is also reflected in its numerous festivals and events that fill the city’s calendar. The Genoa International Boat Show is a prime example, attracting enthusiasts from around the globe.

The Fiera di Genova, a multi-purpose exhibition and trade fair centre, plays host to a plethora of events throughout the year, from antique fairs to travel expos. These cultural experiences encapsulate the city’s spirit, making Genoa a compelling destination for those seeking a taste of authentic Italian culture.

Food and drink in the city of Genoa

The dining scene in Genoa is a veritable feast for the senses. In this coastal city, fresh seafood takes centre stage, with local favourites including ‘fritto misto’ (mixed fried seafood), ‘buridda’ (fish stew), and ‘accio’ (baby octopus).

Of course, no visit to Genoa would be complete without indulging in ‘focaccia genovese’, a deliciously soft and olive-oil rich bread that serves as a snack, a meal, and a symbol of Genoan pride.

The city’s culinary scene also boasts a selection of unique delicacies that are steeped in Genoese tradition. ‘Pesto alla genovese’ is perhaps the most famous, a vibrant green sauce made with fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino cheese, and olive oil. It’s typically served with ‘trofie’ or ‘trenette’ pasta, but you can also find it spread on ‘focaccia’ or topping a slice of ‘farinata’.

When it comes to beverages, Genoa offers a variety of local wines that perfectly complement the city’s cuisine. The region is particularly known for its white wines, including the crisp and light Vermentino and the aromatic Pigato.

For a sweet end to your meal, don’t miss a taste of Sciacchetrà, a traditional sweet dessert wine from the Ligurian region. With every bite and every sip, the food and drink in Genoa tell a story of the city’s rich history and maritime soul.

Getting around in Genoa

Navigating the city of Genoa is a breeze, thanks to its well-connected transport network. The city’s public transportation comprises buses, trams, and a metro system, operated by AMT. The metro is particularly convenient for travellers, offering a quick and easy way to traverse the city, with stops near key attractions like the Acquario di Genova and Principe train station. Tickets for public transport can be purchased at AMT ticket machines and newsstands, and remember to validate them before boarding.

For those who prefer to explore at their own pace, Genoa offers an extensive network of bike paths, making cycling a viable and eco-friendly option. Bike rentals are available throughout the city, including a public bike-sharing service, Mobike. Alternatively, car hire services are available, though keep in mind that the city centre is a ZTL (Limited Traffic Zone) where non-resident vehicle access is restricted during certain hours.

Walking is arguably the best way to explore Genoa and soak up its charm. The city centre is compact, and winding your way through Genoa’s narrow alleyways (caruggi) can lead to surprising discoveries – from hidden architectural gems to quaint local shops and cafes. However, do keep in mind that Genoa is hilly, so a good pair of comfortable walking shoes is highly recommended.

Practical information about the city of Genoa

When planning your visit to Genoa, there are some practical considerations to keep in mind. The city experiences a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The best time to visit is from April to June, or from September to October, when the weather is pleasant and the city isn’t too crowded. Remember to pack accordingly, with light clothing for the summer, layers for the cooler months, and always an umbrella – Genoa is known for its unexpected rain showers.

Regarding currency, Italy uses the Euro (€). Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, but it’s always worth carrying a bit of cash for smaller establishments or spontaneous purchases at local markets. ATMs, known as “Bancomat”, are widespread. The standard voltage in Italy is 220 V, and the frequency is 50 Hz. The power plugs and sockets are of type F and L, so visitors from different countries may require a travel adapter.

English is commonly spoken in tourist areas, hotels, and restaurants. However, learning a few basic Italian phrases can enhance your experience and is generally appreciated by locals. As for safety, Genoa is generally safe, but like any city, it’s always wise to keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas. With these practical tips in mind, you’re well-prepared for a wonderful trip to the enchanting city of Genoa.


In conclusion, Genoa is an enthralling tapestry of taste, tradition, and timeless beauty. The city invites you to indulge in its rich culinary offerings, celebrate its vibrant culture, navigate its well-connected transport network, and explore its charming alleyways.

It is here that every corner reveals a piece of history, every dish tells a story, and every moment spent is a memory in the making. Whether you’re a food enthusiast, a history buff, an adventurer, or a casual traveler, Genoa has something to satisfy every curiosity. So prepare for an unforgettable journey, because Genoa is not just a city, it’s an experience.