It rivals Florence for Renaissance-era palaces, Venice for medieval alleyways and Naples for its prime Mediterranean position. It’s a city that lives its history instead of calcifying it into museums; where takeaways sell farinata crepes (the recipe for which hasn’t changed in centuries), shops are slathered in frescoes, and antique public lifts whisk you through the centuries, picking you up in La Belle Époque and dropping you in the Renaissance.
Genoa has never had a royal family, but it does have a royal palace, built in the 17th century with a gilt-swathed hall of mirrors echoing the one in Versailles. Check out the art collection, including Van Dycks and Tintorettos, then exit via the sprawling balcony for great vistas across the city, port and Mediterranean.
Galata Museo del Mare
In the port’s original shipyard, this first-rate museum covers La Superba’s history, including an entire floor telling the story of Italian emigration in the 19th century. On the way, check out the Porto Antico, which in 1992 was transformed by architect Renzo Piano into a visitor hub, with marinas, a panoramic lift and a lush biosphere hovering on the water.