7 Things You Did Not Know About Genova
June 21, 2019
by Aleksandra Haliciu
Some of you might know already that I have been living in Genova for almost a year now. Before deciding to move here, I have travelled throughout Italy quite a lot and the thing that felt different here was the impression it left upon me from the first moment. As generally understood, Italy is mostly about history, art and beauty – while here I saw a city of contrasts. Among the multitude of cultures and influences, the contrast between the noble and the outcast, the luxurious palaces and the anti-system street-art and social activism, the sea and the mountains, walking its streets sometimes transported me far away – just to be drawn back by the smell of coffee and the delicious taste of pesto. I have decided to stay and get indulged into its perfume- and months later, I am sure to say that I am not regretting it. Let us explore together and mostly, let me share my experience – so far – of this beautiful seaport of the Italian Riviera.
Main Seaport of Italy
It is true, not the Italian city per excellence – since definitely, one that goes for a trip to Italy would choose among Rome, Florence, Venice, Bologna or even Naples. Thing is, Genova has quite a story to tell, and unless you have been here to walk its streets, eat its delicious food and breath its sea-breeze, you will not understand what it has to offer. Not many know that it is the most important seaport of Italy – and forms, together with Milan and Turin, the ‘Industrial triangle’. On top of that, it is the place where the first modern banks emerged (indeed, the one in Sienna being the first). That means that a lot of noble families have been residing here – hence the luxury and the palaces.
Unesco World Heritage
The most charming parts of the city are the old town and the seafront! The old town of course because of its colours and smells, its red light district and public display of illicit substances *and services* – this whole mix creates the vibe of the city and renders it unique. You either love it or you accept it (this is not India, nope!). You would be amazed by the diversity of people walking its streets – its strong African vibe it is felt even in the nightlife as well as the cuisine and shops. Then, there are lots of Asiatic people – such as Bangladeshis and Chinese, South American (broadly from Peru and Ecuador) as well as Albanians and Russians. Whether you hear Arabic, Mandarin or Wolof, nothing will take you by surprise. Then, of course, the number of cafes, restaurants with ethnic specificity is unbelievable, so you will never get bored.
Well, besides the bankers, the top noble figures which I bet you have no interest in – on top of the list should be mentioned the world-renowned explorer Christopher Columbus (his house due to various reasons cannot be visited). Also, worth to mention is the brilliant violinist and composer, Nicolo Paganini, in whose memory the Paganini Genova Festival is still organised to this day (end of October). I must say that personally, the biggest discovery in terms of music is Fabrizio de Andre – born in Genova – and probably the one that, in my opinion, has left the biggest imprint on the city’s philosophy and stamina. (do me a favour and check him out!)
It was only after I came here that I bumped into this precious, life-saving information(: the jeans were not truly invented in the States. While Levi Strauss brought the material with him in the States, it was Genova where the cotton corduroy was manufactured and in fact, the term blue-jeans comes from the French ‘bleu de -Genes’ and means blue of Genova. Now you didn’t expect that, did you?
Let me tell you what’s the happiness recipe – it is garlic, nuts, parmesan, olive oil and basil – take that and you will get the simplest yet best meal you could have in Genova. It is, of course, THE pesto – that ever since the 16th century has been a top choice when it comes to Ligurian cuisine. Well, have come to know that the true Genovese would not stand the idea of eating pesto with anything else than pasta – however- I have a confession to make – I can even eat it on a baked piece of bread. It still delights my senses!
In case you need a refresher, yes, Italian cuisine is most famous for its pasta, pizza and focaccia. Now the focaccia is a type of flat oven-baked bread made with sea salt, olive oil and rosemary (although many other ingredients can be added, including pesto, cheese, tomatoes, potatoes, herbs, ham or fish). But not many know that actually, the focaccia is a Ligurian dish – and the people here take that seriously. They ate it as breakfast, as a snack, with a drink *part of the well-known aperitivo* or even as a side dish. There are so many ‘ focaccerias ‘ in the city that you would be lost in deciding which to choose!
Still a subject of controversy, the topic is very delicate as the Italians love their beaches. The Ligurian Coast will most certainly impress you by their dramatic landscapes – of backdrop mountains, colourful buildings and the deep blue sea. Of course, you have heard of the five villages forming the ‘Cinque Terre’, situated west of La Spezia, noted for their beauty. Then, there are places such as Nervi, Camogli, Portofino or Sestri Levante (the famous ‘Bay of Silence’) which personally I have found enchanting and definitely worth a visit.
Hopefully, it has been enough to invite your interest. Keep close – there is more to come! A dopo!