Port cities serve as gateways to another world. While in past centuries they were often the starting point of daring sea voyages to the so-called “New World” or towards colonies, today they still remain important hubs for maritime traffic. They are centers for the exchange of goods or – in the case of many road travelers – the place where the adventure begins.

View over Genoa

For us, Genoa is a stopover on the way from Germany to Sardinia: this is where our ferry to Olbia departs. As we set off in the morning from a small but crowded campsite west of the port city and maneuver through dense traffic on a highway into the city center, our anticipation grows. In the evening, we will board the ferry – our first ferry ride with Mr. Lux – but until then, we have the whole day to explore the city.

The heart of a city is its market. So first, we head to the Mercato Orientale, which is not far from the city center. We love the fresh and exotic offerings of such markets, showcasing the full range of culinary delights of the respective region. The colors and shapes of vegetables and fruit are particularly colorful motifs for the travel photo book.

Life unfolds between the medieval alleyways that nestle close together. Houses press up against houses, every now and then a piazza creates a little space and air. A labyrinth, the image of the world in miniature. We move from alleyways with trendy bars to alleyways with touristy craft stores. Behind them is the red light district: the houses here are so close together that hardly any light reaches the ground. It smells of faeces. Tired women stand bored in high heels in dark corners. Not far away: Genoa Cathedral, guarded by two lions at the bottom of the stone steps.

Cattedrale di San Lorenzo
Art Store in the Center of Genoa
Small Alley in the Center of Genoa
Mural at Palazzo San Giorgio

Genoa is not a green city. With the historic elevator, the Ascensore Castelletto Levante, we ascend to a viewpoint. From here, one could say: Genoa is not even a beautiful city. And yet, we like it. Perhaps precisely because of its grunginess, its chaos, and all the life in such a confined space. And certainly, because Genoa is the gateway to the world for us.

Refreshed with espresso and ice cream, we finally stroll down to the harbor. We see many cars, multi-lane roads, few locals, but many Africans who seem to have stranded here and are trying various tricks to earn some money. A light drizzle begins.

Port of Genoa

Late in the evening, the sun has fought its way back out. The road to the ferry port is closed, the detour is poorly signposted, so we have to make extra rounds until we finally find the entrance to the harbor. In the belly of the ship, Mr. Lux finds his place for the night, and we settle into our cabin. Just a year ago, we wouldn’t have indulged in this luxury and slept like some other passengers in a corner on the floor of the atrium. Not an option anymore with a baby.

As the blue hour sets in and we glide out of the harbor, we make our way to the highest deck of the ship. We wave to Genoa’s majestic lighthouse as we set course for Sardinia.

Info about our trip