A Garden With a View in Genoa

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Two Hours in Genoa

What to do in Genoa when you have no more than an hour to spend

Genoa is the capital of the Italian Riviera, more or less what Nice is on the French side, but with one important distinction: Whereas all visitors of the French Riviera will, sooner or later, get to Nice (to go shopping, to do sight-seeing or simply to change from plane or TGV train to some form of local transport), far fewer holiday guests on the Italian Riviera will ever set foot on Genoa. Genoa is much less of a “tourism traffic hub” than Nice, with much smaller numbers of visitors just “passing through”.

But there is one group of travellers for whom Genoa is a key junction on their itinerary: all people who are coming by train from France and who are on their way to Italy must pass here. Genoa is the place where the coastal railway line ends – wedged in between the sea and the mountains – and where the network fans out to places such as Milan, Turin, and Rome. So if you are arriving by train from Paris or Marseille, it is well possible that you have an hour or so to kill in Genoa. How best to pass this time?

"City of Genoa seen from its garden with a view"

Here’s a suggestion that combines the briefest of introductions into this city’s colourful history with splendid views over the Old Town and the new town alike – and that may give you the appetite for a longer, less hurried trip to Genoa. Because, after all, Genoa is more than a stopover point between the Côte d’Azur and the Italian mainland but a fascinating city in her own right, one of the country’s most storied and interesting.

Read also: Dancing Lessons from God in Genoa

From the central train station (Porta Principe), walk past the Columbus monument (he was the city’s most famous son) into Via Balbi (past the Palazzo Reale, a former residence of the kings of Piedmont-Sardinia) and continue into Piazza della Nunziata with the mighty Santissima Annunziata church. Just before the tunnel, turn right into Via Cairoli and follow this street into Via Garibaldi, the best that Genoa has to offer …

"Genoa's via Garibaldi"

… a unique assembly of 16th century places, all built when Genoa was at the peak of her powers – known around Europe as La Superba, the proud one – and rivaled only by Venice as a Mediterranean naval power. Palazzo Bianco (no. 1) is now a museum. No. 6 is the former residence of Genoa’s first family, the Dorias, and no. 9 – now City Hall – was originally built for their greatest rivals, the Grimaldis, who later moved a few miles down the coast to establish a Principality of their own .

"Palazzo Bianco of Genoa"

Up towards Genoa’s Garden With a View

At the end of the street, turn left from Piazza delle Fontane into Piazza Portello and walk up the stairway on your left hand side.

"Going up to Genoa's garden with a view"

You may have observed already that Genoa owes much of its charm to the fact that it was built on a fairly steep slope, which makes it looks as if her streets and houses were literally piled upon one another. This also means that you generally don’t have to walk far to get some great views of the town, and one of the best places for such views is the Villetta di Negro public park …

"entrance to Genoa's Villetta di Negro - its garden with a view"

… which is near enough the centro storico and at the same time high enough above it to allow you to combine the roofs of medieval Genoa with the skyline of the modern-day harbour – Italy’s largest – in one single sweeping view.

"Genoa's harbour seen from Villetta di Negro - garden with a view"

This garden with a view is built on a hill, surrounding the remnants of the old city wall …

"remnants of the wall of the old city of Genoa in Villetta di Negro"

… and you can walk once around the ruins to the other (northern) side, which has an ornamental waterfall and a rather attractive view of Genoa’s modern-day residential areas.

"view of the town from the waterfall in Genoa's garden with a view"

There is actually rather a lot to see, but don’t get carried away – you have a train to catch, remember? It will take you roughly 20 minutes to walk from the train station to the Villetta di Negro and another 20 minutes for your return, so you have to time your visit carefully.

And if you feel 15 to 20 minutes are not enough: then you will just have to make room in your schedule for a more extended stay in the city – and come back some other time. We certainly will.

We regularly give travel tips and suggestions for your visit in the Italian Riviera. Don’t miss our latest by subscribing to our free updates via email. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Why not include us in your G+ circles too?

8 comments to A Garden With a View in Genoa

  • It certainly is, Deb!

  • Great information for a quick stop. It looks like a place worth spending more time as well.

  • I would like to go to the music festival in Sanremo. Maybe I will go to Genoa too. Santa Maria di Castello and the Grimaldi Chapel? Maybe I was never there. Yes, Genoa is worth a visit when there is not much water.

  • Genoa looks charming. Sounds like you had a nice two-hour tour :)

  • Perhaps Italy is the place for you, Jeff. Come on down!

  • Thanks for some insights about Genoa, Agata. Will definitely look more into what the city offers.

  • Haven’t made it to Genoa yet, although it’s been on my list since 2005 since we passed through on overnight train from Florence to Paris! Hope to visit one day!! And soon!

  • Nice post! I went to Genova couple of times and in different seasons. I remember once, just before Christmas it was as warm as +15C! It was shocking for me that time, cause I was used to white and very cold Christmas. And then I went there again in July and, boy, that was warm! I thought I’ll just melt down! My favorite place in Genova is Santa Maria di Castello. I was privileged to visit it with local guide and entered few places closed to the public. The Grimaldi Chapel was just amazing! Thanks for sharing this city walk.

Leave a Reply