We arrived in Genoa yesterday, for a three-night visit. Our hotel is close to the historical medieval district, making it easy to get out and explore the area. Here is a sampling of the photos from our first two days in Genoa.
The medieval section of the city is a great place to explore, being a maze of narrow cobble-stone alleys. The lanes and alleys house a variety of shops, restaurants and bars as well as still being a residential area.
We visited the Genoa Aquarium this morning, which is the largest aquarium in Italy and amongst the largest in Europe. I have mixed feelings about the place. It does have some nice exhibits that would make it particularly impressive for children. However, I find the practice of keeping dolphins in bare tanks/ponds inappropriate. I also wonder about the appropriateness of maintaining migratory mammals such as manatees in captivity, although at least the manatee tank had some caves and decor in it.
The entry fee for the aquarium is high at 24 euros. We opted for the combination ticket that also provided access to the ‘Tropical Garden – Wings Flapping’ exhibit and the Biosphere, both of which I found to be a waste of time and money. The Flapping Wings exhibit was supposed to put the spectator amongst butterflies and humming birds. Instead, the exhibit was inhabited by small finches. We saw a solitary butterfly standing on the ground and not a single hummingbird. The Biosphere was basically a small greenhouse containing trees and plants with some Scarlet Ibis birds. The Bermuda Aquarium’s Caribbean Exhibit is several times larger and several times better!
The highlight for today was a visit to the Museo di Palazzo Reale. Construction of the Palazzo began in 1618 and was enlarged after being bought by the Durazzo family in 1677. The entire second floor of the palazzo is open to the public, including the very impressive Hall of Mirrors. Artwork on display includes works by the Masters, including Rubens, Rembrandt and Van Dyck. The visit gave an insight into the life of Genoa’s wealthy residents during the 17th century.
Palazzo Reale is only one of 163 Renaissance and Baroque palaces in Genoa, built in the 16th and 17th centuries. An amazing 46 of them are UNESCO World Heritage sites. One street on which to see some of the palazzos is Garibaldi Street. A couple of the palazzos are now occupied by banks, making them the prettiest banks I’ve seen!
Whilst walking around the old city, we also came across more old churches with their decorated interiors. Those who know me may be wondering whether I’ve undergone some kind of religious conversion based on the number of churches that I’ve visited during this trip. The answer is no. I’m an atheist who enjoys and appreciates historic buildings, whether they be Christian churches, Buddhist monasteries, Islamic mosques or medieval castles.
The first of the churches was the Basillica di Santa Maria delle Vigne, which has nicely decorated ceilings.
The second church was Chiesa di San Pietro in Banchi – a small church with an ornate ceiling.
The third church was the Cathedral of St. Lorenzo – a building with an attractive exterior and a frescoed ceiling.
Wandering around the old part of town has been very interesting. We still have another day to explore before we head to France.