Genoa is a large Italian city with several individual neighborhoods that each have their own history and identity. One of those neighborhoods is the Boccadasse, located on the waterfront to the east of the Genoa city center.
The Boccadasse neighborhood is at one end of the promenade called the Corso Italia, which makes it easy to visit from central Genoa – particularly on a nice day when you can walk all the way along the seafront. This neighborhood used to be its own small town, and was once primarily the home of working fishermen.
There are various stories regarding the origin of the name Boccadasse. In the local dialect, the word is Bocadâze. Because the neighborhood sits on a small bay, one theory is that the name means “donkey's mouth.” Another stems from the name of a river that used to run through Boccadasse, called the Asse. In any case, the Italian word “bocca” means mouth, so either of those theories could be right.
Who could turn down the opportunity for a long stroll along a beautiful seafront on a gorgeous Italian day? If you're headed to Genoa, then that means you're headed for a stroll on the Corso Italia.
There are a few roads that can be called promenades in Genoa, a city very much tied to its waterfront, but the Corso Italia is the main promenade. It runs roughly 1.5 miles just to the east of the city center, from the neighborhood of Foce to the neighborhood of Boccadasse. There's a wide sidewalk along the Corso Italia with ample space for walking, cycling, and jogging, and along much of the route there are also beaches worth checking out. Even if the weather isn't conducive to long outdoor walks, there are great restaurants along the Corso Italia that boast excellent sea views all year long.
You can certainly walk the entire length of the Corso Italia without stopping, but there are some sights to see along the way if you're taking a more leisurely approach.
Genoa is most famous as the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, so it's appropriate to set sail from here. The second largest port in Europe (Marseille is bigger), Genoa is a mix of the old and the new, with pretty old style pink, ochre, and red buildings sitting alongside skyscrapers and church domes, all of it climbing the hills up from the sea via gritty, narrow twisting streets.
Despite the city's size, it is easy to explore the old center on foot. The Cathedral San Lorenzo is the heart of the area you'll want to explore. The cathedral itself is Romanesque dating from the 12th century and houses the ashes of John the Baptist, Genoa's patron saint. A couple of blocks away is the Piazza de Ferrari which has the 13th-century Palace of Doges and the opera house. The main shopping street, Via XX Settembre, leads off from here.
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