A few queries and we landed a good cheapo place - Palazzo Morali, a real palazzo actually http://www.palazzomorali.com/home.html - slap bang on the waterfront and a steal at 75 Euro per night breakfast included. More than that absolutely no cancellation policy and no upfront non-refundable deposits bollockses if you book directly with the hotel. The Signora just asked for my mobile number and requested that we inform her if we had a change of plan.
Pretty neat. Trust - you don't find that a lot around these days.
Genoa is not an immediately likeable place but we were prepared for that - the Rough Guide said as much. An elevated four lane motorway scars the waterfront and despite Renzo Piano's best efforts to regenerate the old port (an otherwise highly successful exercise) this road remains a hugely visible scar. In a way very much like Piano's plans for Valletta where he has to create something beautiful amidst a kitsch seventies block of apartments which the authorities are probably too scared to demolish. We had a decent fourth floor room with over the top decor; a great view of the painted Palazzo San Giorgio if you turn eyes right and an unobstructed view of the highway and the old port beyond if you stare straight ahead. Double glazed windows kept the noise out. A very convenient Metro stop was just round the corner.
But delve deep into Genoa's narrow streets and vicoli and it's very rewarding. The oldest part is the closest thing to an Arab medina I have seen in mainland Europe - smells included. Six and seven storey palazzi totter precariously over miniscule squares. Churches and niches abut everywhere - some sitting on top of a ground floor of shops underneath. It's weird but it is very much alive and you get a real sense that the area has been lived in continuously for so long. I am normally highly suspicious of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites listings but Genoa's warren definitely deserves it. It is quite simply unique.
Genoa also has it's big draw - the newish Aquarium rated as the second largest in Europe, but frankly this seems more like it is geared up for families with (noisy) children. I almost feel guilty having been there against Marthese's express animal-loving objections. Otherwise the waterfront hosts all sorts of activities (mostly noisy) and is a vibrant place to stroll or just people-watch.
Genoa cannot really compete in the tourism stakes with the big boys of Rome, Venice and Florence which is just as well as prices here are much more sensible. The priciest meal for two comprising mixed fish and complete with wine, dessert and espresso came to a modest 70 Euro. At the other end of the scales a plate of trofie con pesto can be had for as little as five euro. Definitely a draw if you're on a budget.
Would I go there again? Oh I really wouldn't mind.