Genoa, or Genova in Italian, was our third stop on our 12 day trip from Rome to Nice. During our stay in Genoa I learned some things about this Italian city, so here are 9 quick facts to know about Genoa!
1. Genoa is famous for its pesto
Pesto was a common dish in many of the restaurants in Genoa. Coincidence? Nope. Pesto actually comes from Genoa. The word “pesto” has its origin in the pestâ which means to crush and as you “crush” the ingredients together in pesto it is very logical.
Even after we came home from our trip Nikolai said: “look, it is even written Pesto alla Genovese” as he was referring to the pesto jar he bought in Finland. We had not even noticed it before but knowing that pesto is from this North Italian city it makes perfect sense.
2. Genoa is Christopher Columbus birthplace
We also visited the outside of the house he grew up in. Although some say that it is probably not the house that stands there today it should at least built on the same grounds.
3. It is easy to get to Cinque Terre from Genoa
Cinque Terre train costs around 20e return ticket.
We visited Monterosso. You can hike from one village to the next but it costs a small fee. In the hot weather we decided to not pay the fee and just stay around Monterosso.
We went for a swim and ate good food. But overall – if you are travelling there in early August – be prepared for a lot (and I mean a lot) of tourists…
4. The city has an interesting history as a trade republic
The merchant republic of Genoa was an oligarchic republic which meant the richer you were the more your opinion mattered. The city was a strong force in the Mediterranean Sea for a long time during the late middle ages and renaissance era. With trading posts scattered around the Mediterranean Sea from the northern coast of Tunisia to the northeasternmost part of the Black Sea.
The Genoese were successful merchants, and some of the first banks in the world were founded in Genoa. There’s an old saying; Genoese therefore merchants (Italian: Genuensis ergo mercator). With the wealth they built up they had a strong influence on the areas around the Mediterranean Sea, most notably on the Iberian peninsula and Spain.
Not only are Genoese known for being merchants, but also for their Genoese Crossbowmen (Italian: Balestrieri genovesi). These were professional and trained mercenaries available for hire. According to Genoese law galleys were required to have a certain amount of crossbowmen on board. This led to great numbers of professional soldiers in Genoa being available for hire to whomever had the money.
5. Jeans has an origin in Genoa
The cotton for the jeans were first created in Genoa (according to History Of Jeans, 2018). The word for this cotton corduroy was also called jean (or jeane), hence jeans.
6. Italy’s largest aquarium is the Aquarium of Genoa
The aquarium is so big we spent over four hours looking at different sea creatures. It was a very nice experience, I do recommend visiting the aquarium if you go to Genoa!
7. The air cons on the ground can lead to embarrassing moments
This I noticed since I was wearing many skirts and dresses. Yes, you can say I had many ‘Marilyn moments’ there where I am walking and all of a sudden a breeze comes from underneath and my skirt flew up. Luckily I was wearing shorts underneath, but still. 😀
8. Genoa has many narrow colourful streets to get lost in
Overall Genoa was a much less touristy place than Rome or Pisa. It is more colourful and less busy. It is easy to get lost in the narrow streets and even Google maps puts you in the wrong position as there are so many streets next to each other.
Another thing I noticed about Genoa, and Italy overall, was that the streets seemed to lack street lighting. This might also supports the getting lost -part.
9. For a great view of the city, go to Spianata Castelletto
If you walk up the hill it is quite a walk but of course the view is worth it!
Travelling around in different cities I always love to go up high to a viewpoint. Looking at a city from higher up gives another perspective of the city and how it is built!
That was all of the 9 facts about Genoa. Of course there are more and some that I cannot quite figure out if they are true. For example some say that the first insurance company was founded in Italy (or at least the first insurance contract). Genoa also has a very busy port.
Thank you for reading! 🙂
Nine & Nikolai