Italy’s largest port city is home to much more than one might think. An incredibly rich culture, history, and cuisine combine to create an authentic Italian experience that you don’t want to miss.

Here are 5 reasons why you should visit Genoa:

Beautiful Liguria.

Liguria, the region surrounding Genoa, is breathtakingly stunning. Pastel-colored houses populate lush coastal mountains; sapphire-blue water shimmers amidst towering rocky cliffs. Liguria is like something out of a postcard: picturesque cities like Camogli, Portofino, and the Cinque Terre are only a short train ride away, and the natural beauty in these places is unparalleled in northern Italy.

Genoa not only has colorful buildings and lush mountains of its own, but also is well positioned for encountering the nature of Liguria on a hike or at the beach. Italy is already a beautiful country; why not experience it by the sea in Liguria?

The best of Italian cuisine.

Ever heard of pesto or focaccia bread? Liguria invented them. Pesto is a tasty sauce made from basil, pine nuts, parmigiano, garlic, and bit of olive oil. If you haven’t tried pesto or focaccia (a soft and flavorful Genoese bread), Genoa truly offers the best in the world, along with another Ligurian specialty: seafood. When the rich flavors of Genoese cooking are infused with everything the sea has to offer, this is a culinary experience you don’t want to miss. In Italy, cuisine is king, and Genoa is no exception. Pesto and seafood together: What can be better?

 

Christopher Columbus and the Centro Storico.

Genoa’s rich history is very much alive today. Before discovering the New World, Christopher Columbus called Genoa home, and visitors can see his house near the Porta Soprana, the majestic old city gate. Genoa also has the largest intact medieval city zone in all of Europe, the Centro Storico.

Explore the winding streets of the historical Centro Storico amidst a variety of shops, gelaterias (very important!), and breathtaking churches. Or walk down nearby Via Garibaldi, and visit several of the magnificent palazzi (rosso, bianco, and reale are particularly impressive) where Genoa’s rich and famous once lived. For literally thousands of years, Genoa has been one of the most important port cities in Europe, and its cumulative history absolutely reflects this. It’s worth a visit.

A world-class aquarium and the Porto Antico.

Genoa is first and foremost a port city, and this is where it’s all happening. When you’ve wandered through the maze of the Centro Storico, the port is the perfect place to encounter the sea. This is the Porto Antico, Genoa’s historical port that today cultivates an amazing aquarium, high-quality dining, and many concerts and events that run throughout the summer. The Porto Antico is the center of tourism in Genoa, and always has something for everyone.

 

EstateSpettacolo 2015.

This summer, the Porto Antico is hosting a month of musical, theatrical, dance, and cabaret concerts from July 6 to August 4. It’s the biggest festival of the summer: EstateSpettacolo 2015. Come see some of the biggest names in Italian and international music perform at three incredible venues, whether it be the seaside Arena del Mare or the architecturally famous Piazza Delle Feste for popular shows, or the Palco Millo for rising independent artists.

The lineup this year is impressive, with Fedez kicking off the festival on July 6 followed by Franz Ferdinand & Sparks and reggae legend Jimmy Cliff appearing over the following few days. In addition, Ben Harper will be performing on July 18 and jazz musician Avishai Cohen on July 24. With sounds ranging from pop and rock to jazz and blues, the EstateSpettacolo has something for everyone this summer at the Porto Antico.

 

Authentic Italy.

Simply put, Genoa is the real deal. Visiting Genoa puts you a train ride away from charming, coastal fishing villages amidst pristine Ligurian nature. Some of Italy’s best cuisine was born right here, and foods like pesto and focaccia don’t get any more authentic than in Genoa. And well-preserved historical sites such as the Centro Storico are unlike any other medieval city zones, offering an incredible opportunity to wander through the winding caruggi streets and experience the authentic heart of the city as it has been for hundreds of years. Or let the Porto Antico invite you to participate in cultural events and performances frequented by many locals. Italy’s largest port city might not be on your list of top Italian destinations, but it should be.

Genoa is ready for you.