The home of pesto is genuine Italy, minus the tourists
Genoa, a Graham Greene novel masquerading as an Italian city, exudes many qualities: luxury, seediness, style, charm, deliciousness, and just the right amount of graffiti. Credit its diverse, centuries-old shipping port for the narrow medieval streets that tangle the waterfront, creating a sense that anything might be around the corner. There could be a cool jazz club, a great restaurant, a tiny piazza where you can get a Negroni for four euro, or maybe a multi-national drug deal going down. Who’s to say?
(Note: If you see a shady alley with vibrant blue light that in Manhattan’s Lower East Side would indicate a hip, rakish bar? That is actually just a space where people put their garbage.)
Skip the tempting harbor boat cruise -- you’ll only see shipping containers and a concrete seawall -- and instead use Genoa as basecamp to scoot around the Cinque Terre towns by boat. In town, though, try meandering through the maze of alleys until you think you might get mugged (you won’t, probably), then head uphill to ritzy Via Garibaldi. Along that ancient street you’ll find palaces: Rosso, Bianco, and Doria Tursi. You’ll experience both real estate envy and centuries of masterful artwork.
Further up the hill, in a magnificent, unpopulated, terraced park, maybe you’ll run into an elderly Italian man with a golden retriever. And you’ll let him direct you, through a swarm of pot-smoking teenagers hiding away in a corner of the park, to a hidden, yet magnificent museum of Japanese Culture, the Museo d'Arte Orientale Edoardo Chiossone. And he’ll be happy to spend half an hour telling you about it, because he doesn't see a lot of tourists here. - JP Howley, Thrillist contributor