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Hotels in Genoa

An extremely powerful town in the Middle Ages, Christopher Columbus's birthplace is a cosmopolitan port rich in art, music, gastronomy, architecture and history.

Book one of our Genoa hotels and dive headfirst into the heritage and culture of this intriguing town.

The Old Town

Genoa's historic centre is a labyrinth of narrow alleyways, small squares, mansions-turned-art-museums, churches, old shops and architectural styles from through the centuries. You can join a walking tour which sets off from the tourist office, or borrow an audio guide and explore by yourself. The centre is filled with historic shops housed in centuries-old buildings, and there is actually a register listing those that have been in operation for 70 years or more. They include clothes shops, an antique shop, a silver jeweller's, cake shops, sweet shops, chocolatiers, an antiquarian bookstore and even chemists. You can join a three-hour guided tour of these shops, which includes craft demonstrations and tastings.

Palaces

One of Genoa's most splendid palaces is the Palazzo Reale, a magnificent building with a golden, fresco-filled interior and collections of Renaissance art and historic furniture. Its gardens, an attraction in themselves, overlook the Old Town and the harbour and have a striking octagonal lake surrounded by black and white cobbles.

The Rosso, Bianco and Doria-Tursi palaces are today the Strada Nuova Museums, and house a fine collection of Old Masters, including works by Van Dyck and Rubens. You can also see historic furniture, ceramics, coins, weights and measures, and some of the violinist Niccolò Paganini's personal possessions, including a violin.

Sights

The black and white Gothic-Romanesque cathedral, consecrated in 1118, houses a glass vessel once thought to be the Holy Grail. By the nave, you can see a Second World War bomb which fell on the cathedral in 1941 and didn't explode.

The Genoa Aquarium, Italy's largest aquarium, has 70 tanks with some 15,000 animals, including dolphins, penguins, sharks and colourful coral reef fish. You can see some species from the Antarctic here which are found nowhere else in Europe.

Parks and gardens

Its mild climate and location between the sea and the Apennines mean Genoa has a rich variety of plant life all year round, and the city has some beautiful gardens. The Nervi Parks, a complex of several gardens which once belonged to private villas, have exotic plants from around the world and a rose garden with more than 200 varieties. Look out for North American squirrels and terrapins too. The Corso Dogali Botanical Gardens house around 4,000 plants, including palms, orchids, coffee, vanilla and cocoa plants and tropical fruit trees.

Eating and drinking

You can choose from a mind-boggling array of more than 100 pizzas at Voglie di Pizza, which also serves focaccia and crepes. For freshly-caught fish and seafood, Ligurian specialities and homemade desserts, head to Scalvini, which has a kids' menu and vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options. Or try the interesting dishes at Voltalacarta, listed in the Michelin Guide. Craft beers, Italian wines, coffee and cakes are served at Caffetteria Enoteca Chicchi d'Autore. At lunchtime, head to the very popular Gran Ristoro panini shop for sandwiches made with whatever you want.

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