Surprised by Genoa

Though I love Italy, I was simply not feelin’ Genoa at first, in the din of October and following two weeks in the sun and humidity of Asia. I missed my friends and the ability to spend an entire afternoon snorkeling in turquoise water. Can you say spoiled? I’m ashamed to look at myself and know that I was.

But soon after arriving I collapsed into a bed that felt akin to being swallowed by clouds. Despite setting three alarms, I slept through the opening party of the conference I was in town to attend, but awoke in time to spend the evening hours wide awake, my body still on Indonesia time. So, I watched the sun rise over the city from the roof deck of the Hotel Grand Savoia.Doing that put me in a different state of mind, allowing me to feel ready for what would come next.

As has been true of almost every place I travel, my weekend in Genoa was made special because of the new people I met and the friendships that I further cemented. So while I can show you some photographs of the city that show it’s a beautiful and underrated place — it’s the moments I cannot show you that make it a place dear to my heart. The rekindled friendships, heated glances, melodic laughter, inside jokes, the echo of footsteps on centuries-old stone late at night…these are photographs that exist only in my mind’s eye. They’re what made Genoa for me.I discovered after I fell for the city and when I was doing research for an article on the Looptail, that the New York Times once listed Genoa in its popular ’36 Hours In…’ column so the fact that my impression is a very personal one does not mean you, dear blog reader, won’t love it too. You very possibly will. Check out some of my highlights on AFAR and enjoy this photo journey through the city. When you find yourself there, please visit Via Garibaldi 12. This design store located in the old part of Genoa, on a quiet street, should really be in a city like Milan. It’s fabulous almost beyond its humble home. Items as large as furniture and as small as fancy paper clips all seem at home in the massive restored villa the store occupies. Filled with light and featuring all kinds of nooks and crannies for beautiful products to hide in, it will be difficult to leave without your wallet taking a hit. However, you might be able to complete all your Christmas and birthday shopping for the year in just this store

There are plenty of accommodation choices in Genoa, but I can personally recommend the Best Western. I spent one night here before departing to Milan and it is a reliable and standard hotel that would more than please most travelers, with iPads in the lobby, a good breakfast buffet and friendly staff. My only complaint is that the bed and pillows were not comfortable. I did have a terrific view of the city and sunrise from my room, which I was wide awake to view.Also the Hotel Grand Savoia, is now one of my favorite hotels. There isn’t anything I needed or wanted while there that wasn’t provided for, or already available. From the luxurious bed, to the free and reliable WiFi, to the extensive breakfast buffet and exquisite lunch service, to the good attitude of the staff — I cannot complain about any aspect of my stay. (That being said, the rooms themselves are a little small if you’re not traveling alone. Since I was, it mattered little to me.) Of particular note is how close the hotel is to the train station, one could throw a stone and hit the other! That certainly saves taxi fare if you’re not flying in.…Do let me know how you find this northern Italian city. I hope it surprises you just as much as it did me.

TBE was a small but great conference, and my reason for being in Genoa. I owe thanks to organizer Michele Aggiato who gave me a new audience to teach and a new city to adore. Views and opinions about the conference, the accommodations and the city, however, are entirely my own.