Posted by: debrakolkka | September 7, 2011

Genova/Genoa – it’s great.

We have driven through Genova several times on our way to other places. It is chaotic, dirty and from a distance doesn’t look very inviting. However, we have heard lots of good things about the city, so we thought it was time to investigate further. Our friend Tina organised a small group to visit the international flower show and we tagged along. This way we didn’t have to drive.

a naked sailor

Across the road from the seaside venue where the flower show was held is a large statue of a naked sailor. Why not? Genova is a port, there must be lots of naked sailors around.

 In the streets behind this area we found some beautiful old houses that must have been very grand in their day. Genova is the capital of Liguria and has been an important centre of commerce and politics for centuries.

an elaborate building front

guarding the door

beside the door

guarded by and angel

We went to the old part of town to have lunch and wander in the labyrinth of medieval carrugi, the narrow alleys that are characteristic of this area.

these streets are seriously narrow

there are some beautiful old buildings

A lot of buildings in this area are seriously neglected, which is a pity, because they must have been fabulous when they were brightly painted and new. It was an busy port and the streets would have been full of people coming and going from everywhere. Despite being shabby and run down it is very interesting wandering and looking at this fascinating area.

We had lunch at  Trattoria Ugo. It was busy and friendly and served good local Ligurian food.

take your pick with the street number

inside the busy restaurant

Then it was back into the streets to look for the cathedral.

on the way to the cathedral

Genova's impressive cathedral

2 sad lions guard the church

The lions on either side of the church are from the 19th century. I thought they had sad faces.

this one looks worse

The facade of the church is elaborate and beautiful.

carving on the front of the church

some more

beside the door

the arched doorway

I love the colours and shapes

older carvings

looking up

The cathedral wasn’t open, but apparently the inside is amazing as well.  I think I spotted another Neptune on the way back to the bus.

he seems to have lost his trident

We only had a few hours to discover Genova, nowhere near enough, but it was sufficient to make us want to go back to see more. It is only a couple of hours from Bagni di Lucca, so we will be back soon to stay a bit longer.


  1. I have been there, and these pics bring back memories. Thanks.

    • We really had been past Genova dozens of times without calling in. It was time. We loved it and will definitely return.

  2. Great photos again! I love those sad lions – so expressive and that wonderful skinny street shot – you have such a good eye for photography. Wish you would come over here and take pictures too 🙂

    • I love England. I have driven through your area and down to Devon and Cornwall and I loved it. It was several years ago, before I had a good camera or an interest in taking photos.I would love to come back and scour those areas again.

  3. Pete just walked in and asked me what I was looking at. I told him I was out sightseeing with my friend Deb.. 🙂

    • I’ll be back in Italy soon, via Hong Kong, Helsinki and Paris where I am staying for a week with a friend. I am really looking forward to exploring Paris with my camera. I am also going to Naples for a few days. I have a memory of Naples from almost 40 years ago of a restaurant by the sea where I ate spaghetti vongole for the first time. There was a little chubby man hovering around the tables playing Volare on his violin. I want to go back.

  4. Nice !

  5. Just as you said, Debra, Genoa is full of surprises. There is the ugly, smelly Genoa and then, there is another city, full of magnificent art and architecture, including the old area and its narrow “vicoli”.
    Genoa is also the history of the Grimaldi family, who originates from that city and not from Monaco. Here are some details about their history, which are very relevant:
    Next time, I would suggest a visit to the National Gallery, in the Spinola Palace, which is also known as the Grimaldi Spinola di PellicceriaPalace because it was originally built by the Grimaldis. Sorry, the English version does not seem to work properly:
    There, you can admire not only the art collections but also get an idea of the splendour of a private palace.

    • We will definitely go back to Genova. I like the sound of the National Gallery and the Spinola Palace. I had no idea the Grimaldis came from there – very interesting.

  6. I’ve never been, but if there’s naked sailors …. 😉

    • We only saw one, but you never know, there may be more.

  7. It tells you something about how much Italy has to offer, if this is one of the seeminly less impressive places. Such stunning beauty!

    I love the narrow alley ways, especially. Reminds me a bit of the narrow, winding, labyrinth of streets in Hanoi.


    • There are wonderful things to be discovered in just about every Italian town. We really enjoyed our day in Genova and will go back for more.

  8. Hopefully you didn’t bump into too many naked sailors!

    • We only found one, but he was quite impressive don’t you think?

  9. Love that angel, and is are they copper pots and pans lining the restaurant wall?

  10. That was a well constructed sentence…. I’m wondering if the pots and pans along the busy restaurant are copper?

    • I think they probably were copper. It was a cute little restaurant and the food was excellent and reasonably priced.

  11. The inlaid marble colors are amazing….ok…it goes on my list…how can I get all this in when I only visit twice a year for a week at a time! ha Thanks for your super post.

    • It is very difficult to see everything in a short time. I couldn’t see everything I want to in Italy if I lived 3 lifetimes – and then there are all the places I want to go back to.

  12. As usual, love all your photos. On our very first trip to Italy we somehow managed to get off the autostrada and were lost down in the harbor next to the huge ships! I hope to go and spend a few nights in the city.

    • We have taken a couple of wrong turns on our way through Genova. There is an incredible tangle of roads around the city. It is well worth a few days.

  13. Wonderful photographs and so beautiful sculptures. I wish to visit Genova one day, especially the cemetery. There are beautiful sculptures too, there. I love these buildings with sculptures… They are amazing. But this cathedral! What a great harmony of colours… They really write a poetry on these stones… In other way, it is the poetry of the stones… Thank you so much for you both, with my love, nia

    • We drove past the cemetery, it is huge. I’m sure it would be interesting to wander there amongst the headstones.

  14. simply beautifully captured shots…lovely architecture!

    • Thank you for your comments. Genova has some very beautiful buildings.

  15. We’ve only ever driven past it too – worth stopping next time, it seems.

    • The old bits of the city are very interesting and when you think of the history of Genova how could you not want to visit?

  16. Thanks a trillion for the stellar photographs!! Really beautiful!! Genova is one of my most favorite of towns, for one it doesn’t have a large tourist industry that can wipe out the integrity of a popular city, in many respects Genova is stunningly unaffected, the town reminds me of Italy of more than half a century ago. Genova is famous for needing a coat of paint which makes the city all the more interesting to me… The restaurants in the old quarters cater to the tastes and needs of the locals, hence an introduction to a cuisine that most non-natives aren’t familiar other than basil pesto… Genova/Liguria has the greenest cuisine in the world, it’s possible to try new (green) dishes everyday and not come across a tomato.

    • I am a big pesto fan, and this is the place to eat it. The covered gardens growing basil can be seen in the hills surrounding Genova. I can see why you love Genova. We really enjoyed wandering through the tangled streets finding something interesting at every turn.

  17. I’ve visited some of the places in your photos. Seeing those lions brought back some great memories 🙂

    • I thought the lions looked quite dejected, but they were doing a fine job of protecting the church. I want to go back when it is open. Thanks for dropping by.

  18. Such beautiful carvings. I can’t remember whether I have been there or not…I should remember.
    So many wonderful places in Italy to go and visit.

    • There are too many gorgeous places to see in Italy. I am slowly working my way through a few of them.

  19. These are such beautiful pictures; it always amazes me to see the exquisitely carved details on the buildings in Italy – the people who designed and built these amazing structures are clearly not just builders, but highly skilled true masters of their craft. And it is so wonderful that their art has survived to inspire so many generations.

    I love the sad-looking lions guarding the church, although I am puzzled as to *why* they are so sad? Do you know?

    As to that naked sailor in the first pic – hhhrrrmmmmm [purring]. 😉

    • I have no idea why the lions have such sad expressions. Perhaps the sculptor had only seen poor lions trapped in a small cage in a zoo. Cost would certainly prevent work like this being done today.

  20. Beautiful and amazing architectural designs and statues. Everything is breathtaking. Great post/photos.

    • Thank you. The architecture in most Italian cities is incredible. We were very impressed with Genova.

  21. Hmmm, “sad lions”??? My grandfather often told me the story of those lions; in the 19th century an American wanted to buy them for a new building in the States, of course the request was denied, hence overnight the lions’ expressions changed from happy to sad, they had their bags packed and were anticipating an exciting new life in the New World… Yep.

    • Brilliant story! 🙂

    • What a great story!! I wonder if they were destined for the front of the New York public library in 5th Ave. There are 2 lions beside the steps there, obviously not the Genova lions.

  22. That poor lion looks so sad…

    • Did you read the explanation in the comment by Gian Banchero? It’s great.

  23. Such sad lions – they remind me of the “Puss in Boots” scene in Shrek 🙂 – and I really love the explanation given by Gian!
    I love all your photos – they really help paint a glorious portrait of the city. One can only imagine it in it’s hey-day.

    • It must have been incredible when it was a bustling port city, It still is but how exciting it must have been when those old sailing ship were around.

  24. Great pics of Genova! First impressions of Genova are always that she is the ugly duckling compared to other Italian cities. But her gems are just better hidden. As for the lions, my husband told me that they were a symbol of Greece and were stolen in battle…and if you look at some of the statues on Via Garibaldi they are missing their noses because this was a sign of a successful battle. Noble men would cut off the noses to show victory!
    As for the sailor…I prefer his rear view, he has got the best ass in town, haha.

    • I think I have a shot of his bum as well. I must look through my photos. Did you read Gian Banchero’s comments on the lions?

  25. […] Blogger Debra did this post about her trip to Genova, and her pictures captured my attention and remained stuck in my memory bank. The Old City is well-preserved and we loved it. […]

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