Genoa by sailboat

Genoa by sailboat: in the center of Liguria between sea and hills

"You will see a royal city, leaning against an alpine hill, superb in men and walls, whose appearance alone indicates her to be the lady of the sea."

Francesco Petrarca

A catamaran vacation in Liguria departing from Genoa will be able to give you the same emotions that shook the Tuscan poet at the sight of this imposing city, nestled between the deep blue sea and the green hills above. The nickname "La Superba" has been handed down for seven hundred years and still fits perfectly to describe the Ligurian capital, which is so rich in history and culture.

With these few lines we want to offer you a kind of online portolano, with tips and trivia to make the most of your sailing vacation in Genoa.


genoa piazza de ferrari

History of Genoa

The first settlements at the mouth of the Bisagno stream by Ligurians date back to the Bronze Age. The name Genoa presumably comes from the word "genu," meaning mouth or entrance, and claims its riverine origins. In Roman times the city remained aloof in world affairs, while the first settlement was destroyed by the Carthaginians in 205 B.C. and rebuilt in the following years.

In 934 it was again targeted by looting Saracen pirates, but this time the intrepid Genoese sailors chased and defeated the pirates near Asinara Island, recovering prisoners and booty.

Real Genoese economic development began only in the year 1000, with the pivotal date of 1096 when it became independent of the Holy Roman Empire and became Maritime Republic. Following his triumphant participation in the First Crusade, he obtained the famous coat of arms with the red cross on a white background.

Within a few years under the rule of the doges he extended his rule over the rest of Liguria, Corsica and part of Sardinia, and his merchant ships weaved trade with the entire Mediterranean, even pushing out from the Pillars of Hercules to Flanders and England.

In 1284, in a mighty naval battle near the shallows of Meloria, the Republic of Genoa disintegrated the Pisan fleet, contending for trade with the East only with historic rival Venice.

The city was the birthplace of the best navigators of the late Middle Ages, including. Christopher Columbus, discoverer of the New World, and Andrea Doria, who with twelve galleys recaptured his city from the yoke of France, and reformed the administration, bringing Genoa to its heyday.

The republic was finally conquered by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1797, and later came under the rule of the Kingdom of Sardinia in the hands of the Savoys, following the fortunes of what would become united Italy.

alleys of genoa

Where to moor in Genoa

The Port of Genoa is the most important in Italy as well as one of the main ones in the Mediterranean. It is divided into two parts, to the east you will find the Porto Vecchio Basin with the most characteristic moorings and closest to the historic center. To moor your sailboat in genoa we recommend the Marina Porto Antico (tel. 0102470039, VHF 74) which offers uncommon professionalism and care in a very central location. Alternatively, you can contact the Marina Molo Vecchio (tel. 01027011, VHF 71) or the Marina Fair (tel. 0105391213). The basin is also home to two distributors and several high-end construction sites.

In the west you will find the Marina Genoa Airport (tel. 0106143420, VHF 71), with excellent facilities and very convenient for those arriving by plane but definitely peripheral to the city center.

Boat & Breakfast Genoa

What to see in Genoa

As a stop on a longer sailing vacation in Liguria, you will probably only have one day to visit the city, and our advice is to devote yourself to the historic center, one of the largest in Europe. Get lost among the narrow alleys, which will drag you back to the time of the doges in a flash. Among the most characteristic are Luccoli Street, where to get lost among the boutiques, and Garibaldi Street, overlooked by the ancient noble palaces.

We then recommend a visit to the impressive Cathedral of St. Lawrence, beyond the splendid Gothic facade, in the right aisle you will find an Allied bomb that broke through the roof of the church and miraculously remained unexploded. A little further on you will come out into De Ferrari Square, the very heart of the city overlooked by the Ducal Palace.

On the way back to the sea, the pedestrian area of the Old Port, redeveloped by architect Renzo Piano and become the city's main tourist hub. A must is a visit to theAquarium of Genoa, the largest in Europe with over 12,000 animals.

Honorable mention goes to the Lantern, one of the oldest lighthouses in the way and a symbol of the city, which is definitely worth a visit for the breathtaking view of the harbor.

what to see in genoa

Where to eat in Genoa

Genoa is world famous for being the birthplace of pesto, whose bold flavor is universally appreciated by young and old alike. Very close to the Porto Antico in a side street of Via San Lorenzo you will find the Canneto Pasta Factory which, in addition to a very good quality pesto at an honest price, has the very good pansotti with walnut sauce on the menu.

As for streetfood, we recommend a stop at theAntica Friggitoria Carega, in the boisterous Via Sottoripa, to renew the tradition of the tasty and fragrant fried fish wrapper.

Finally, you cannot leave Genoa without enjoying a slice of freshly baked focaccia. Here the choice among bakeries is truly endless, but we recommend the following The Goodness of Wheat, in the cozy setting of Carmine Square, who makes a truly extraordinary focaccia.

focaccia genovese

The most beautiful bays near Genoa


This is a tiny fishing village that has been incorporated into the city, it is one of the most romantic places in genoa and definitely worth a visit. The space inside the bay is very limited, you can anchor your sailboat a little further out over 10 meters or just admire the scenery without stopping.

Vernazzola, Sturla and Priaruggia

Three beaches in quick succession, not far from the city center. You only anchor in good weather between 5 and 10 meters on mixed bottom.

Fourth of a Thousand

A series of small bays practicable only in calm seas. On May 5, 1860 from one of these rocks sailed the Expedition of the Thousand led by Giuseppe Garibaldi.


At the mouth of the creek stands a tiny marina, suitable only for dinghies or goiters. If you have a chance to anchor your sailboat, we highly recommend a walk along the scenic waterfront, or a visit to the large park very close to the sea.


A quaint village on the beach, perfect for a beach stop. It anchors on sand between 5 and 10 meters.

Pieve Ligure and Sori

Just outside of Genoa, these two bays are more spacious than average and offer a pleasant setting with lovely seaside cottages.


A small harbor unsuitable for sailboats, made famous by the delicious cheese focaccia. A little further on rise Camogli and Mount Portofino, must-see destinations for lovers of landscapes and seaside villages.

genoa sailing

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