Genoa, the gateway to the Italian Rivera and birthplace of Columbus, was described by Flaubert as possessing 'a beauty that tears the soul.' Since being City of Culture in 2004, it has become renowned for its mix of architecture from the UNESCO heritage historic centre with its famous carrugi (pedestrianised maze of lanes) to Art Nouveau buildings to two Renzo Piano buildings on the waterfront.
Admire superb Renaissance art at the several big palazzi on C16th-century Strada Nuova; see the Palazzo Ducale, once home of the Doges; impressive Cattedrale di San Lorenzo and the Basilica San Siro; study works by Veronese, Caravaggio, Titian, Durer, Bernardo Strozzi and Van Dyck, and modern masters. We'll also take a day trip to the fishing village of Portofino, renowned for Castello Brown, a C16th Genoese-built fortress and spectacular vistas of the Cinque Terre coast.
Genoa & Portofino: Jewels of the Italian Riviera
Ryanair flies direct to Genoa from London Stansted or BA flies from London Gatwick. The airport is only 6km outside the city.
Stay in Genoa throughout unless you are feeling very extravagant!