Your journey of discovery of Ligurian art and culture will start with a rich and delicious breakfast served in the historic Breakfast Hall at the Bristol Palace, frescoed in Liberty style. In good weather, you'll be able to sip your morning coffee on the spacious and unique terrace featuring marine sail roof drapery.
Upon leaving the Bristol Palace, your journey of discovery of Genoa's wonders will lead you to the historic centre, the very heart of the Città Vecchia (old city), recently restructured, reopened and bursting with history.
The best way to discover Genoa's history and allure is to wander along its "Caruggi", picturesque alleyways of medieval origin, and characteristic "Creuze", narrow streets set between walls. The fascinating city maze will lead you to historic buildings, Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza San Donato, home to the churches of San Donato and San Matteo.
Indeed most of the Città Vecchia and historic centre have actually been declared a UNESCO World Heritage, also in virtue of the sheer number of sites of interests present within the area, including the Catrum, known as the earliest attempt at urbanisation in the city's area, dating back to Roman and Etruscan times, as well as Palazzo Spinola and Palazzo Ducale, both symbols of the ancient Maritime Republic.
The tour now leads us towards the sea, past the Carlo Felice Theatre. Inaugurated in 1828, it is a major attraction for the local population and was fully restructured in 1991. The new theatre is characterised by a polygonal lantern which transports light from the roof to the indoor square and contains four stages, making it one of Italy's most important theatre complexes, completed by a small stage detached from the main facility, the Montale Auditorium.
Upon leaving the theatre you'll come across the solemn and majestic San Lorenzo Cathedral, erected between the 9th and 16th century, which explains its mix of architectonic styles both inside and out.
Stop to admire the Genoese Gothic-style façade with French influences, designed by Galeazzo Alessi, as well as the bell tower, both dating back to the 16th century.
The interior is divided into 3 naves. The left nave contains the San Giovanni Chapel, where the bones of Saint Laurence are conserved, whereas The Cathedral Treasure Museum is located at the bottom of the right nave, which conserves works of sacred art, including the Sacro Catino, which legend identifies as the Holy Grail, and the Arch of Ash of Saint John the Baptist.
As we approach the coast we'll come across two of the city's most famous and important architectonic works: Porto Antico and the Aquarium.
Porto Antico has since become a multi-functional tourist and cultural space. The area is rich in attractions and hosts numerous initiatives: the Aquarium, the Sea Pavilion, the National Antarctica Museum, Città dei Bambini, the De Amicis Library, Bigo the panoramic lift, the Magazzini del Cotone Congress Centre, an outdoor swimming pool, etc. Marina Molo Vecchio is home to a small modern tourist port, with direct connections to the rest of the world thanks to the nearby Cristoforo Colombo airport..
Genoa's aquarium is one of the largest and most modern marine parks in Europe and a major Italian tourist destination. Captivating tanks reproduce Mediterranean and ocean habitats, from the poles to the tropics, populated by over 500 fish species, offering visitors the chance to observe the secret life of dolphins, sharks, penguins, jellyfish, seals and crocodiles. There is particular focus on education, with guided tours suitable for children of all ages, as well as continuous scientific updates.
"Apri l'Aquario con Noi" (open the aquarium with us), is a unique experience, suitable for both adults and children, where you can go behind the scenes and discover the everyday work of aquarium workers, the preparation of meals and feeding of animals, in a highly exclusive context away from the public eye, so that you can admire creatures in all their splendour.
As we head back towards the city centre you'll come across "Strada Nuova", formerly Via Garibaldi, constructed in the mid 16th century, and home to a unique museum path featuring: Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Doria Tursi, historic abodes now owned by the municipality which contain works by artists the likes of: Caravaggio, Veronese, Guercino and Van Dick.
As we return towards the port and walk along the seafront towards the Genoa Lantern which dominates over the city, you'll come across Galata Musei del Mare, yet another testament, needless to say, of Genoa's sea heritage. The Mediterranean area's largest maritime museum is dedicated to the history of seafaring, and contains reproductions of all kinds of vessels, instruments, nautical maps and interactive points. The museum offers visitors an immersive experience and insight into the life of sailors.
The last stop on this tour of Genoa will lead you to a truly iconic place in the city, on the opposite bank of the Porto Antico: the symbolic Lighthouse of Genoa.
A staggering 77 metres in height, the historic lighthouse stands on the remains of a hill, originally erected to guide inbound ships and control their movement.
Today the Lanterna stands as magnificent as ever, stoic in the face of war and wear. It consists of a tower with two overlapping and slender volumes, each crowned by a gallery, one of which is accessible via an internal staircase. The summit offers one of the most spectacular views of the city's sunset.
What better way to conclude a tour of Genoese art and culture, than taking a moment to relax and sip a refreshing aperitif on the Bristol Palace terrace, one of the city's renowned places of aggregation.