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Genoa: the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and Paganini, Italy’s biggest port and, as Charles Dickens remarked in 1844 "A city of the strangest contrasts." Renaissance palaces, grand 19th-century boulevards and gilded Baroque churches are squeezed alongside, and on top of, a warren of steep medieval streets. Fine restaurants and chic bars are hidden in the narrow alleys. Genoa is made for exploring and getting lost in the medieval quarter – one of Europe’s largest – and is all part of the experience. With one of the biggest universities in Italy, Genoa’s student population guarantees a buzzing nightlife.
Being one of the best-kept travel destinations secret, Genoa for sure offers many beautiful and interesting tourist attractions. With dozens of museums and galleries, a renowned theatre, the largest aquarium in Europe and many famous landmarks, tourist will find themselves busy. Most of the popular tourist sights are either near Genoa's main square, called Piazza de Ferrari or by the old Port of Genoa, so these are the places to head for. Other sights not be missed is Palazzo Ducale, Palazzi dei Rolli and the Medieval Quarter just to name a few. To get a good idea of the town´s geography and history, take a boat tour, there are large variety of boat trips that departs from Genoa harbour.
Genoa and Liguria are famous for pesto, the delicious pasta sauce made from basil, pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan. If you think you know pesto because you buy it in a jar – think again. There is nothing like a dish of fresh vivid-green pesto served with the local pasta (little twists of troffie) or spaghetti-like trenette. Other specialities include farinata, a bread-like snack made from chickpeas, focaccia, fish dishes (particularly salt cod-baccalà), mushroom dishes and stuffed meat dishes. Plan to eat out in Genoa? Remember that many restaurants are closed on Sunday and Saturday lunchtime.
Italians are famous for their delicious food, ice cream and romantic cafés: in Genoa you will find many lovely cafes to rest your feet at after a day’s shopping and touring. Grab a strong espresso, a sweet delicacy of the region such as "pandolce" and enjoy!
Genoa has a lively nightlife, thanks to the vast number of students who attend the city’s university. During the week, bars, wine bars and pubs are popular – many of these are pretty small and people tend to hop from one to another as the evening progresses. Many bars opens around 6:00 pm for Italian aperitivo (a pre-meal drink) and stay open until around 1:00 am. On the weekend, closing time is extended to 2:00 am and many will have a DJ set on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Discotheques tend to be found outside of the city centre, alongside the magical Ligurian riviera.
There is some good shopping in Genoa, from designer goods and shoes, through high-street fashion and cheap fakes. On Via XX Settembre, a long, wide boulevard right in the centre of the city, you will find high-quality chain stores, designer stores – and some good shoe stores. Rinascente, the well-known Italian department store is located in Via Vernazza, which runs parallel to Via XX Settembre. You will also find the Mercato Orientale a great food market, selling all kinds of fruit, vegetable, fish, meat, cheese and bread. Unlike many stores, it is open Monday morning. Nearby is Via Roma, which is also good for designer fashion. Running parallel is the 19th century glass and metal Galleria Mazzini, with small fashion and accessory stores and cafés. For more affordable shopping try heading to Maddalena, a maze of tiny streets. In this part of Genoa’s historic centre, you will find a huge range of small stores, selling clothing, jewellery, shoes and accessories food stores and bakeries. Via San Luca is good for contemporary high-street Italian fashion, but if you looking for a designer outlet and bargains, head to Via Caffa.
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