The Italian Rivera and Genoa – the Undiscovered Italy – Genoa, Italy

The Italian Rivera and Genoa – the Undiscovered Italy

Genoa, Italy

When most tourists visit Italy, they usually go to experience the glory of Rome, the romance of Venice, the stunning countryside of Tuscany, and the great art of Florence. But there’s an undiscovered area of Italy that is quickly becoming a hot destination for lovers of maritime history, picture postcard towns overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and ancient alleyways – the seaport town of Genoa.

Backstreet of Genoa
Backstreet of Genoa
Genoa is the capital of Liguria, a province on the Italian Rivera, and birthplace of Christopher Columbus. This famous port city, known for centuries for its shipping, has only recently been “rediscovered” by tourists, mainly because the Genovese have traditionally hidden their treasures behind dark palazzo facades. But in 2004, Genoa was named the European Capital of Culture. The city is undergoing a massive facelift, and Europeans and Americans alike are exploring the streets of Genoa, enjoying its Byzantine churches, the Piazza de Ferrari with its magnificent fountain, the new seaport with its world-class aquarium, and its “old town” – the largest in Europe – filled with exotic shops, labyrinth alleyways, and enticing old world atmosphere.

Along the Italian Rivera are small coastal towns with names like Portofino, Santa Margherita, Ligure, Rapallo, and San Remo. One can spend weeks wandering this magic coastline, each town with its own history and charm. You can even hike from town to town through the mountains overlooking the sea and stay the night in a small cozy inn. There are also a number of fun ferry rides along the coastline with stops that let you explore hidden harbors, visit a 400 hundred-year-old church or have lunch in an outdoor cafe.

In the chic town of Portofino (my favorite), stop and have lunch at the Chuflay Restaurant in the world famous Hotel Splendido Mare. Film star Ava Gardner spent so much time there they named a suite after her. Then take a leisurely walk up a winding alleyway and visit Il Castello Brown, a stunning castle perched on the top of a bluff overlooking the perfect bay. The castle offers spectacular views of the yachts in the harbor and the town below. It also houses a marvelous collection of photos of the rich and famous who have visited Portofino over the decades.

No visit to the Italian Rivera is complete without tasting the local wines and fresh foods of the area. Liguria is the pesto capital of the world, and just about everything you eat is served with it.

Best Time to Go
Most people go in the summer, but the Rivera gets really crowded at that time. Try the spring or fall, the traffic isn’t as bad and the rates are cheaper.

Getting There
Most people fly into Rome and then take a one hour flight to Genoa. Italy’s main airline flies from both Newark and JFK direct to Rome. 800-223-5730

Where to Stay
There are dozens of excellent hotels on the Italian Rivera. The StarHotel-President, located in Genoa, is a lovely hotel in walking distance to all of Genoa’s main sites. It offers package deals, and can arrange tours to any or all of the smaller towns surrounding Genoa. They can also arrange: sight seeing, walking tours, biking, scuba diving, museums, or church tours. They are famous for creating individualized package tours for groups. or 1-800-816-6001.

For More Information
Contact the Liguria and Genoa Tourist Board.