Porto Antico and Palazzo S.Giorgio, Genoa
Piazza Caricamento is very long, and divides the old town from the harbour, just next to the new Expo zone.
Among many beautiful old buildings, there is one of the most important in town, Palazzo San Giorgio, the first bank of the World! This building was built firstly in 1260 and changed several times during the years till becoming like we can see it now, perfectly restored in the last years, so it's a commistion of very different achitectural styles.
Well, no need to talk about the Aquarium, you all know about it, and it's the most famouse attraction in Genova... go there and enjoy it! ;-)
The whole Expo zone was built for the 1992 Columbus Expo, so it's a totally new district build over what it once was the oldest part of the harbour, so people still call it "Porto Antico". There you will find restaurants, cinemas, shops and many other amusement things. You can take the lift up on the "Bigo", the stmbol of the Expo, made by World famous architect Renzo Piano, and take a great look all over the harbour and the old town.
It's a pleasant zone, it's nice to walk along the Magazzini del Cotone (Cotton warehouses) seeing the big yachts of the richmen, always taking a look at the Lighthouse, the symbol of Genova, or seeing the big ferry boats or the big cranes of the modern harbour...
This was different!
Most cities have Tower's that you go up for a panoramic view of their city, but not here, they have the Bigo!
At the harbour, near the Aquarium & Biosphere, this is a lift that has been modelled on a Ship's Crane, hence all the arms coming out, and you are dangling on the end in a circular glass lift, that rotates as it goes! Commentary is in Italian, but who cares really, it is the view that is the must see, and that is 360 degrees. The problem is, is doesn't go very high, only 40 metres, so I think it may be more a fun experience, and throw in the view!
ADMISSION IN 2011....Adults 4 euro
OPERATING..........June, every day from 10 -8PM (on Monday from 2PM - 8PM
Thursday, Friday and Saturday up to 11 p.m.. July and August , every day from 10 - 11PM.
Monday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
OR..... Palazzo San Giorgio, It is known as either, and a few other names too!
I am glad we didn't miss this building, as in 1570, it was painted with beautiful frescoes. The one I liked the most, was of George and the Dragon, compliments of Lorenzo Tavarone. George was the Patron Saint of the Republic of Genoa.
The palace is quite famous as it was used as a Prison for some time, and in 1298, one of the Prisoner's was Marco Polo. It is believed to be where Marco Polo began dictating his travels after being captured in a battle between Genoa and his own Republic of Venice.
The building itself is old, having being built in 1260. In the 15th Century, it became the home of the Bank of St George which is still going today around the World.
Today, it is the home of the Port Authority of Genoa
Visits to the can be arranged by telephoning 010-2412625 or 2412754.
Entrance is free and there is no guide.
Don't miss the frescoes!
In the Port Antico area, we saw this strange, clear Ball that looked to be sitting over the water. Closer inspection, and we found out it was called "The Biosphere," and it was made of glass and steel.
The brochure said we would find tropical animals and plants, Trees, such as Rubber, Coffee and Cocoa Trees, plus rare tropical Trees. Throw in the Birds, Butterflies and Reptiles, altogether this sounded very nice.
The only problem was, we are from the Semi-tropics, and had seen a lot of this in the wild, so we decided against going inside.
I should think if you haven't seen anything like this before, then it would be good, it did look interesting!
OPEN...9.30 - 6.30 PM
Piazza Caricamento is a touristy area, but a big space, so I wonder how busy it would get!
I saw some interesting architecture on the old buildings, a Carousel, and it looked like they were setting up for a market. There is plenty of seating by the Esplanade, and plenty of attractions in the area to keep you busy for a day.
Also here, is the Palace of St. George [previous tip.] This building had another wing added to it, built in a red brick of Moorish style, and is located to the side and behind the frescoed building. It was built in the 16th century.
To the side of this building, is an entry point to the old town, so we made our way through here, and into the narrow alley ways of the old town.
Tradition has it that this was the prison in which Marco Polo gave his account of his voyage to Rustichello da Pisa, given that in 1928 this building was still the palazzo della Dogana (Customs' office). Today it is the head-quarters of the Port Authority. Once inside the najestic Salone delle Compere is well worth a visit.
This old port was transformed for the 1992 Coloumbus celebrations. Italian Architect, Renzo Piano built a link between the Port and Centro Storico by restoring the warehouses and changing them into cineplex and exhibition centre and building new structures such as Bigo.
The Sphere is an enormous glass and stainless steel construction floating in the middle of the sea.
In this sphere there are a lot of flowers and plant in an atmosphere conditioned and controlled by several computers that check the umidity levels and the temperature. Same sails fixed in the upper part follow the sun from east to west in order mantain always the shadow in this tecnological greenhouse.
The visit is free and is sponsored by the Comune di Genova that handle one of the most large and complete greenhouse of europe for the productions of flower to adobe the city
Since 1992 Porto Antico is redesigned by Genovese architect renzo Piano, and revitalized into the most visited area of Genova. Once busy and inaccessible port is transformed in mostly pedestrian zone which consists of several attractions, such as Acquario di Genova, Il Bigo, Biosfera, Bataly, Museo Luzzati, Galata Museo del Mare...
This medieval ship, on the pictures, is one of the main attractions for visitors of Genova and its Porto Antico. It is replica of a 17th century Spanish Galleon. The ship, called Neptune, used in the film "Pirates" made by Roman Polanski. "Neptune" is on permanent display in the port and visitors can tour the ship for a price of 5 euros.
In the Porto Antico area you haven't only the aquarium:
La CITTA' DEI BAMBINI (Children town) is the largest and most complete recreational area in Italy for children between the ages of 3 and 14.
Science technology and stimulating educational activities merge to give a new meaning to games, enterteinment and enjoyment. TEL 0102475702.
Il BIGO, the panoramic lift which rises to a height of some 40 metres giving visitors the chance to enjoy a breathtaking view of the city of Genoa.
Il CENTRO CONGRESSI is housed in the last six modules of the Magazzini del Cotone (Cotton Warehouses), covering an area of 8500 sqm and used for congresses, exhibitions and a variety of other functions. Its Auditorium can seat up to 1480 partecipants. TEL 0102485611
Also at Magazzini del Cotone visitors can find the CINEPLEX, a multiscreen cinema boasting ten fully airconditioned film theaters.
The Edmondo De Amicis BIBLIOTECA is the most modern and most specialised library for young people in Italy and even in Europe. It can seat up to 180 students and also has some 30 stations for listening to music and consulting CD-Roms. TEL 0102485710
L'ICE SKATING is home to an ICE-SKATING rink open to the public from November to April, for reservations 3474860524.
In the technological BOLLA, entirely constructed from special crystal sheets, the enviroment of a tropical rainforest has been created with cotton plants, coffee and cocoa plants and the presence of a number of chameleons, butterflies and iguana.
I couldn't find any usefull information about Torre dei Morchio, which dominates over Piazza Caricamento. It is obviously an medieval construction, built of large blocks of ashlar stone, but it doesn't look that has been a part of integral defending system of the town. The tower stands on the top of Palazzo Passano, another construction for which I couldn't find any informations at all. In medieval times it was a habbit among Italian nobles to built a tower adjacent or on the top of the homestay. Building such an tower was a matter of prestige but also to show wealth and power of the family.
Sometimes, cities are lucky enough to reinvent themselves. Genoa, given short shrift in travel guides 20 years ago, has undergone a striking renaissance since 1992, when it hosted an international expo to commemorate the 500-year anniversary of the discovery of the New World.
Nowhere is that benefit more evident than at Porto Antico, the old port close to the marine terminal, where many of today's cruise ships now dock. What once was a seedy waterfront on Northern Italy's Mediterranean is now a charming blend of old and new structures, featuring cafes, shops, a movie complex, a maritime museum, a spectacular play and cultural center for kids and, most importantly, the largest aquarium in Europe.
At one time I can picture this man staring out over the sea and the boundless adventures it could have brought. I suppose now this statue has his gaze fixed on the relatively modern invention of the highway and the automoblie.
It was here that the first monument to Cristopher Columbus was created in the 16th century in the form of fresco.
It is also believed that here is where Marco Polo gave his account of his voayge "Il Milione," to Pisa while incarcarated in the old customs house here.
It doesn't matter if you are in the dark, narrow alley or in the wide open of the Palazzo San Giorgio; the history just seeps out of every crack.
Porto Antico. The old port has been smartened up to attract people back to the area. As well as a marina a collection of shops, an aquarium and many other attractions vie for your €€€'s you've been warned! wouldn't say it was a tourist trap though, a little too well done for that!