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What's Genoa Like for a Few days & What about Lucca

What's Genoa Like for a Few days & What about Lucca

Jun 20th, 2014, 04:12 AM
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What's Genoa Like for a Few days & What about Lucca

We'll be in Italy in October & still trying to figure out where to base ourselves. We have about 2 weeks after spending a week in Switzerland and before we have an apt rental in Rome at the end of the month. We have been to Italy many times and while thinking we'd like to go to a few new places we're not adverse to going back to loved towns. We enjoy art, history, walking thru towns and villages and generally just exploring and enjoying the culture of Italy. We're thinking of Genoa for maybe 4-5 days and Lucca as a base to drive into the countryside. I did a search and haven't come up much on Genoa but reading about it it sounds interesting. I am hoping to hear some real life experiences there. Your thoughts? thanks
yestravel is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 04:37 AM
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We spent two days in Genoa several years ago and were able to keep busy. I don't think I would spend 5 days there. The pesto is delicious. Lucca is a good base for that area of Tuscany and a pleasant city to visit.
mamcalice is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 04:39 AM
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We spent 6 nights in Lucca last summer and loved it. We also did day trips to Pisa, Siena and Florence.

You can see our pics here

jamikins is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 05:06 AM
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Great photos! Thanks. Any recommendations on where to stay in LUcca?
yestravel is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 05:10 AM
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Sorry, but can't help with Genoa. I am a big fan of Lucca after spending two weeks there at a language class. There were enough things in town to keep me nicely busy after class. The walls are wonderful to stroll around in the evenings. There are some very nice churches, including the cathedral with the funeral sculpture of Ilaria del Carretto by Jacobo della Quercia (exquisite). There is also the Church of San Frediano with a mosaic in the upper area of the facade and some interesting art inside. The church of Santi Giovanni e Reparata has been excavated; you can walk down into the archeological site and see traces of earlier medieval churches and Roman era life.

I also enjoyed exploring the areas away from the two main streets (Via Fillungo and San Paolino); there are many small shops worth checking out. There are some outside book stalls off Piazza Napoleone and (I think) on the third weekend of the month there is an antique market. (Not sure if these last two are seasonal, and if so, when they start and stop.)

There are good train and bus connections allowing you to explore towns like Montecatini Terme (I did), Bagna di Lucca, Pistoia, Barga and Pisa. (Barga might be better done with a car, since bus connections may be less convenient.)

There are some villas outside of town that can be explored, too, and a car would be convenient for these.
mama_mia is online now  
Jun 20th, 2014, 05:15 AM
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We stayed here. It was within the walls in a great location and very nice. I am not sure it is available year round, though.

mama_mia is online now  
Jun 20th, 2014, 05:17 AM
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We stayed at www.alportodilucca.com and would recommend it! Great location - short walk into town and very easy to drive in and out plus short walk to the rail station
jamikins is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 07:26 AM
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Palazzo Cicala in Genoa is a stylish and not too expensive hotel on a piazza facing the duomo - much recommended. The food in Genoa is very good, many "Italian" dishes originated in that area, pesto for instance. There aren't a lot of tourist must sees but I found wandering the small medieval lanes was fascinating.
tarquin is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 07:50 AM
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Which days in October? At the beginning of the month is the huge yacht show (usually one or more weekends sometime around the 7th and 12th, changes every year). You need to book early because pleasantly priced and charming accommodations fill up fast there, and a bit up and down the coast as well.

After about the 20th of October, the risk of bad weather jumps exponentially. You can luck out with dry, sunny, autumnal weather for your stay, but if you are unlucky, you can get relentless downpours.

Many people compare Genoa to both Lisbon and San Francisco. Indeed, a great many Genovese emigrants made the San Francisco area their home as opposed to NYC or Boston, where they found that their skills in anchovy fishing, shipbuilding, banking, cable car construction, and wine growing brought them success. Levi Strauss was so taken with the tough durability of the Genovese fishermen's traditional blue trousers he took the material and fashioned into "blue jeans" for cow wranglers.

Genova itself is the largest intact medieval quarter in all of Europe. Most of the middle and upper class of Genova abandoned the historic center a very long time ago, leaving behind gorgeous 18th and 19th c. palaces amid the almost impenetrable warren of medieval alleys that comprise the city center and largely poor population of 21st c. immigrants. Like its arch rival Venice, the city of Genova was built to be deliberately confusing to outsiders who might try to attack it from its open seaside. Unlike Venice, Genova has done almost next to nothing to make the inner city less confusing for tourists, and only a handful ever figure out the place. If you decide to go, David Downie's Food and Wine of Genoa and the Italian Riviera gives some excellent tips for exploring the old, ungentrified city.

While there are important artworks tucked into its several museums, Genoa can't compare with Torino or Milano in that regard (although it much better than Lucca). One of its most interesting musums in actually in the suburb of Nervi (the Galleria d'Arte Moderne). Many people like to go the bizarre Staglione cemetary (I've never been). Both these places reflect that Genoa's heyday was really the new industrial age, when it became incredibly wealthy as Italy's major port (much of the material to build it was simply stolen from Naples after the Italian north conquered the south for unification). All was lost in 2 world wars, and although Genoa today is still the major port of Switzerland and Italy, it simply never enjoyed the lavish life it once had. It can sort of feel like Newport and other Gilded Age towns in a certain odd way.

Lucca had me bored after a half day there and I don't really care for the food. But I seem to recall my being a great fan of Portuguese seafood and you not so much, so maybe you would rather head for the richer and meatier cuisine of Lucca and give a miss to the fish and veg based kitchen of Liguria.
sandralist is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 08:00 AM
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PS: In Genova, a chopped beef patty or hamburger is still called a "svizzera" in many eateries and butcher shops, reflecting the fact that it was a steady stream of Swiss workers coming into Genova to make a living in the shipping and transportation trade who longed for chopped meat, which otherwise doesn't exist in the local kitchens. The local meat specialties are Genovese salami, often made of wild boar, or rabbit cooked with olives and potoates. Otherwise the cooking is vegetarian and seafood based.
sandralist is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 08:06 AM
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if you haven't considered Torino, you might like it there.
sandralist is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 08:20 AM
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Thanks, sandralist for all the info. Actually I love seafood, not sardines, but pretty much everything else & that's primarily what I eat. Perhaps I wasn't clear in my comment on Portuguese food.
Will look further into Torino.
yestravel is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 10:06 AM
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We only had a half day in Lucca but loved it and wish we had had more time. it was such a pleasant place to wander.
drchris is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 12:04 PM
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For an October stay, Torino really has a lot going for it. You might want to embrace or avoid the Salone del Gusto, which has got to be the trendiest food fair in the world, but throughout the autumn the city is just delightful and you can catch a train to some other interesting places (more food festivals, cheese and truffles, or great scenery). Chocolate, coffee and wine are important, but the city has a long history of celebrating the intellectual life and preserves some marvelous architecture. To me it is Italy "laboratory" city, always dreaming up new ideas.

One more word regarding Lucca: I don't know what part of the countryside you are interested in visiting, but you might want to stay in the countryside, where there are plenty of nice places to eat, agriturismi, etc. If you prefer town life, check out Pistoia, which has no fewer than 3 Slow Food restaurants, beautiful architecture (better than Lucca), fun markets, fun cafes and about .001 tourists per square mile. You can usually find a nice place to stay in Pistoia for pennies. Many people, as you can see, are really happy with Lucca, and I can certainly understand why, but I thought you might be interested in a lovely and practically unknown Italian tiny city of great history (including the invention of the pistol!) for a real slice of Tuscan life with lovely food to match.
sandralist is offline  
Jun 21st, 2014, 03:18 AM
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"We spent 6 nights in Lucca last summer and loved it. We also did day trips to Pisa, Siena and Florence."

Spent 4 hours in Lucca and couldn't wait to leave. There is nothing there.
lmhornet is offline  
Jun 21st, 2014, 05:18 AM
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"Spent 4 hours in Lucca and couldn't wait to leave."

That's the problem with day trips. You're not there long enough to see what really is there. But to each his own . . .
Holly_uncasdewar is offline  
Jun 21st, 2014, 09:11 AM
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I spent a week in Lucca, so my reactions to Lucca weren't due to not spending enough time there. I wouldn't say there is "nothing" in Lucca. That is a puzzling statement, since it has some outstanding medieval and ancient sites that can easily be seen in 4hours if you look for them. (In fact, I don't know how one could miss them!) But after that, there is just not enough in Lucca of sufficient interest to me to want to spend a chunk of time there when I could be in other places in Italy I find more interesting. For people who have language classes or other activities as their primary reason for being there, I can imagine Lucca is more rewarding (if you like the local cuisine and can afford the restaurants!)
sandralist is offline  
Jun 21st, 2014, 10:32 AM
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We loved Lucca. Just wandering around - riding bikes on the walls. Of course, we didn't spend a ton of time in Lucca, but used it as a base for other stuff. We enjoyed coming back there at the end of a day though.

It looks like the apartment we rented still isn't for rent, but we loved Andrew at Destination Lucca.
surfmom is offline  
Jun 21st, 2014, 12:28 PM
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I don't see much info on Genoa here. Just to say it was great and is definitely on my 'must go again' list. We stayed near the Principe station in a very convenient location. Spent about 4 days wandering around the old city streets, in the old town, up the funicular, in and out of churches, along the seafront. Ate wonderful antipasta at various bars, lots of seafood and pesto to die for. It is a good location for jumping to other places in Italy. Not on the tourist route, which in my view is a plus. We moved on to the Ligurian coast and into the French Riviera from there.
Having said that, Lucca is also great. It looks like you have enough recommendations about Lucca already.
gertie3751 is offline  
Jun 21st, 2014, 04:36 PM
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Another vote for Genoa. There is plenty to do, unfortunately even the guidebooks barely give any info, but we took a chance and discovered it on our own. Very simple for tourists...will try to locate notes and expound...
treble is offline  

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