Criss-crossing through Genoa’s alleys

May 17, 2011 / Local Interest
Genova, Liguria
The Centro Storico (Historic Center) of Genova is the Old Heart of the city and it is the largest medieval center in Europe. These narrow and steep alleyways, in dialect called “caruggi“, are so tightly packed in that in some points you can barely see the sky!

Criss-crossing throughout the medieval streets of this old town can be pleasantly surprising. You can walk each narrow street from the bottom of the town and end up popping out at the top of it close to a medieval church, a hidden square or a typical Genoese shop and café.

Given their characteristics, it is quite likely that even when you’re sure you are heading to a certain place you will get lost in some of them. But do not worry, this is common also among some Ligurian people!

I think that wandering through each alley is a unique experience and I believe that by just walking through these maze of historical streets, you’ll find the “real” Genoa’s essence.

Anna Merulla

by Anna Merulla

Founder of Beautiful Liguria, a travel concierge service that offers everything from tour planning, hiking excursions, cooking lessons, personal shopping and much more in this great region. In 2009 she decided to begin sharing her personal knowledge of the beauty, the culture, and the history of Liguria in which she’s immersed every day.

12 Responses to “Criss-crossing through Genoa’s alleys”

  1. Ciao Mary, thanks. Grissini can be found in panifici (bakery shop). I like the one made with olives :-)

  2. I was there in the year 2000 and experienced the walk through some of the alleys and streets. It was amazing to see the different shops and other people enjoying the history of early Italy. I hope to return someday.

  3. Toni DeBella

    Anna, It’s true that the most interesting and authentic spots seem to appear when you walk the back streets of a city. From the very small ones to the large ones like Genoa. Even Rome, where I have found some of the best trattoria’s or artisian shops behind the “main streets”. Local is always better and alleys and corners is where you can find magic. I have managed to spend some time in Liguria, but have, unfortunately, been to Genoa YET. It’s is definately on my “bucket list” of places to be in Italy. toni

  4. garrett phelan

    To me the best part of these “alleyways” is that they seem to totally preclude the existence of any cars in the squares that they go to. How perfect. To sit down, outside on the square, and have a glass of wine and not be bothered by the obnoxious sounds and smells of the “infernal” combustion engine!! Oh, to live my life in a city with no cars! Am I dreaming too much?

  5. Ciao Paul, you’re right about the shops. One of my favourite is the “Drogheria Torielli”. This store is the kingdom of scents and flavors of spices, herbs, chocolate, tea, rice, imported curries, essences and body care products…
    Ciao Toni DeBella, I agree with you. I love to discover places out of the ordinary, away from mass tourism. Walking among Genoa’s alleys is something magical, you can “breathe” the charms of Genoa Maritime Republic.
    Ciao Garrett Phelan, you know that’s the reason why I have chosen to live in Genoa historical centre..there are no cars ;-)

  6. On a trip to Liguria a few years ago we went to all the small towns instead .. all along the coast .. we had the most fantastic trip , maybe we should of gone into Genoa .. we were going to , but got caught up in traffic .. and really didn’t know where we were going .. next time :-)

  7. Gian Banchero

    Thank you Anna for returning me to Genova’s caruggi. I remember when living in Genova how many times I became lost in the maze of those ancient streets… and loving every moment of it, especially when a caruggi would open into a sunny piazza as shown in your photograph. And yes, “no cars!”.

  8. Roberta Monette

    I’ll be 2 days in Genova in July: wondering what is a must see for my first time there? These alleys sound wonderful…but where to begin?

  9. During my Navy days with the US Sixth Fleet (1960-1962), Genova became my favorite city in Italy.The carrier visited the city infrequently (Naples was our home away from home), usually after a grueling exercise in the eastern Med. The perfect liberty was to go ashore as early as possible, take the funiculare up the hills behind the city, go to the small cafe which was by itself amid open fields (whether the cafe or the fields are still there is anyone’s guess but I doubt they are) and order bread and cheese and a bottle of local white wine. The afternoon was spent lying in the fields eating and drinking and looking out over the city and the sea. The carrier looked like a toy from that distance and the fact that you were young, away from the ship (for a few hours, anyway) and living and breathing your Italian heritage was a feeling that was impossible to duplicate. Then, back to the city, wandering those wonderful narrow streets and alleys and, eventually, meeting shipmates for a delicious multi-course Genovese meal before returning to reality…that, my friends, was living with a capital L. Thanks for stirring up the memories, Anna.

  10. Ciao Roberta, alleys in Genoa are rich in history, it’s the largest medieval centre in Europe:-). So many things to discover and historical shops where to taste typical ligurian products…according to your needs you can have a personalized tour.

    Ciao RAA, thanks a lot to you for commenting and talking about your memories. Grazie, Anna.

  11. Francesco Paolo

    My brother in law, an American who lives half of each year in Genoa, has written a wonderful English language guide book for people wanting to explore the “carruggi” di Genova. It can be bought from the Bookshop dei musei di strada nuova on Via Garibaldi (Strada Nuova).

    The address is: Via Garibaldi, 9
    Tel. e fax 010 – 2759185
    e–mail :

    This book is the definitive source of Genoa’s alleys.


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