Travel Postcard – Exploring the Old Town in Genoa

Piazza Banchi in the Old Town, Genoa

After my relaxing day in Riomaggiore I was up for an early breakfast and then checked out and headed into La Spezia for a quick wander down to the waterfront before catching the FrecciaBianca train up to Genoa. My hotel was the comfortable Soana, an easy walk from Brignole station and occupying the fourth floor of a grand old building with a lovely wood panelled lift in the stairwell. After checking in I was keen to get out and explore the nearby Old Town.

Palazzo San Giorgio at the Old Port in Genoa
Palazzo San Giorgio at the Old Port in Genoa, Liguria, Italy

My guide book had a walk around the Old Town in it so I thought I’d follow that.  It started at Palazzo San Giorgio (St George’s Palace) down by the Porto Antico (Old Port) so I headed down there first and had a fantastic lunch of spaghetti with clams at a quayside restaurant. Well fed, I headed back to Palazzo San Giorgio and into the narrow alleyways of the Old Town at Piazza Banchi.

Piazza Banchi in the Old Town, Genoa
Piazza Banchi in the Old Town, Genoa

Sitting overlooking the square above the tiny shops was the lovely S. Pietro in Banchi church.  I wandered up the steps and had a look inside.  Unlike many of the churches I’d looked in it wasn’t particularly dark inside, having a very light and airy feel with sunshine pouring in through the domed roof structure, decorated with exquisite plasterwork and paintings.

Interior of San Pietro in Banchi Church, Genoa
Interior of San Pietro (St Peter) in Banchi Church, Genoa

From here I wound my way through the maze of alleys to Piazza San Matteo and then on to Piazza Matteotti with the splendid Palazzo Ducale and Il Gesu church.  By this time, having got lost in the maze several times and not been able to follow the recommended route in the guidebook I gave up on that idea in favour of just wandering around the narrow streets and referring to the map whenever a square or church hove into view.

San Lorenzo Cathedral in the Old Town Genoa
San Lorenzo Cathedral in the Old Town, Genoa

In Piazza di San Lorenzo the cathedral towered above tourists and surrounding buildings making it near impossible to photograph in its entirety, even with my back pressed firmly against the other side of the square, so I opted for photographing lots of architectural details, including the magnificent lion sculptures at either side of the cathedral steps.

Lion Statue at San Lorenzo Cathedral
Lion Statue at San Lorenzo Cathedral

I headed vaguely northwards through more narrow alleys and quiet shady squares before emerging onto Via Garibaldi, the “new street” at the top of the old town, home to the impressive Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Rosso museums which were worth a look before heading back towards Piazza Ferrari and my hotel, past the town hall.

Town Hall on Via Garibaldi Genoa
Town Hall on Via Garibaldi

After freshening up at the hotel, I headed out again past Porta Soprano and down to the Porto Antico to shoot the curious Bigo “panoramic lift” which towers over the water and surrounding buildings as the lights came on at dusk.

The Bigo in the Old Port at Dusk
The Bigo in the Old Port at Dusk

I’m sure the view from the Bigo is fine, but I was saving my panoramic view of Genoa for the Castelletto viewpoint the next morning, before my return to Turin…

All of my train tickets for the trip were booked directly as etickets at Trenitalia.com in English (mostly) with advice from The Man in Seat Sixty-One.

About marksunderland

Mark Sunderland is a landscape and travel photographer based in Yorkshire, England. He supplies licensed images through marksunderland.com - The Source for Images of Yorkshire - and also runs photography workshops in the Yorkshire Dales with Natural Light Workshops.

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