The 113 hectares Historic Centre of Genoa is one of the most extended medieval Historic Centre of Europe and is the most densely populated. The Genoese Historic Centre is a maze of alleys (caruggi) that unexpectedly end up in small squares, that, as well as the churches that dominate them, belonged to important noble families.
The Genoese spirit resides in these alleys, where different smells, flavours, languages and cultures have always been mixing together. The Historic Centre, more of any other part of the city, has always been a melting pot.
In these narrow spaces, between the hills and the sea, the pride of rich merchants and of noble Genoese was expressed by building splendid residences, where many works of art were collected and guarded for centuries, and is still possible to see them in some of these palaces, nowadays transformed in public Museums.
The architectural styles overlapse in these compact ensemble of buildings, where the windows of the house are so close that they can almost touch: the medieval wall is the basis for a 15th century building, the Gothic galleries today have been transformed into trendy clubs. In the Historic Centre of Genoa, the past is the foundation of the present.
In this place it seems like time has stopped. You can find noble palaces and wonderful churches that alternate with shops that have been open to the public for more than 100 years, where typical dishes are still prepared following traditional recipes and artisanal objects are created according to traditions. Typical of Genoa are the “botteghe storiche” (historic shops) and even the names of the alleys often recall a past strongly linked to artisanal activities and corporations, like Via degli Orefici or Vico del Ferro. If you lift your eyes at crossroads, you will enjoy the magnificent votive niches donated by ancient corporations to illuminate the streets of the city at night.
The most ancient part of the city can be mostly visited on foot: it is nice to lose yourself in the alleys and stroll in lively areas or choose an organized itinerary to visit and get to know in detail churches, palaces and monuments, maybe even following a fil rouge, such as the Genoa of De Andrè or the medieval city.