Genoa: a hidden gem.
Whether you pronounce it in English as Genoa or in Italian as Genova, this is one Italian city that is often, unfortunately, overlooked by tourists.
Nestled in northwestern Italy close to France and between the Ligurian Sea and the Apennine Mountains, this is Italy’s largest port and sixth largest city. The Genovese people are a closed community, which is one reason the city has been off the radar for tourism development and tourist invasions for so long. Now, it is a stop for many cruise ships so the word is spreading: Genoa is a cultural and architectural beauty and a gourmet heaven.
While Genoa is a thriving modern metropolis, the past is ever present. The medieval old town is one of Europe’s largest and is a fascinating labyrinth of alleys and lanes. These lanes are called caruggi. The area is large, near the port and safe to visit. Some of these streets house small designer shops, some are home to company head offices and others are quite simply home to a large community of local families.
Most are pedestrian streets with only scooters allowed. The area is great for casual walks and for determined niche shopping.
Sometimes the lanes will converge and open to a small piazza and a church. It is simply surprising and beautiful.
You can see by the pictures that the streets are very narrow and barely allow the sun to penetrate.
Abundant clotheslines stretch across lanes and windows proving that there is a living and working neighbourhood here.
Many sell seafood of all sorts, quick meals and many offer “standup-only” spots to eat. The typical comfort food of Liguria is a kind of fried flatbread called: farinata. It is made of chickpea flour, olive oil, salt and mineral water and is eaten either plain or with garnishes. The best are in the standup-only shops. If you want to try making these at home, there is a good, typical recipe at this site: http://www.food.com/recipe/ligurian-farinata-savory-italian-pancake-or-flatbread-112403#ixzz1xsbQXmTc
Even if you are a great cook and make a great farinata, I would suggest planning a trip soon to try some in Genoa. This will be one of many treats you will encounter and discover.