The Nordic wind seemed to tell us that summer would be gone soon in a couple of weeks in Denmark. By September, the good chance we could still catch the summer breeze is when we go further south. So, a day after we tied the knot in Aeroskobing, we headed back to Copenhagen and took a flight back to Switzerland.
The next morning, we found ourselves heading towards the Mont Blanc Tunnel. Then it’s official – we’re definitely heading to Italy!
I’ve always liked Italy.
After visiting Florence once and Rome twice, I couldn’t get my mind off from wishing to explore this beautiful country more. By the time we were already looking for our honeymoon destination, I said it right away, “I want to go (back) to Italy.”
I’ve been asked about our honeymoon escapade a few times, with questions like:
How did you get to Cinque Terre? Florence? Or in Venice? What are the best sightseeing (or even, less touristy) spots?
What are the best things to do in Italy? I want to do some wine tasting, which vineyards and wine villages can you recommend?
Which restaurants and accommodations have you been to? Which are these places where I can just relax or be away from it all?
I’ve already shared in my previous post about the interesting things we did in our over two-week honeymoon escapade in Italy, in a nutshell. This time around, in the upcoming posts, I’ll dig more into details on that exact journey we did two years ago.
I’m lucky for being able to visit some of Italy’s most gorgeous towns, yet there are still a lot of interesting places in this country I haven’t explored yet. I’m pretty sure that in every new town I’ll visit someday, I’ll most likely be mesmerized over Italy’s charm all over again.
For now, I can share with you our experiences in visiting these lovely Italian towns — Genoa, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Lucca, Tuscany, Florence, Siena, Verona, and Venice.
The Road Trip Starts Here
Deep blue skies and warm sun rays gave us a fresh start on our first official trip together as Mr & Mrs. The plan on our first day included a 5-hour long drive to reach Genoa; but it could still be a few hours more, depending on how busy it would get when we reach the Italian border.
“Summer ain’t really finish yet. It’s better we drive as early as possible,” hubby confirmed.
I couldn’t disagree more. I was really enjoying the greenery views along Rhone-Alpes and the mountain valleys in the Alps on a bright sunny day. As we were coming close to the highway tunnel though, we started to slow down. Tons of cars, buses, and trucks were all lined up to make it through one of the busiest tunnels in Europe.
Mont Blanc Tunnel is one of the major trans-Alpine highway tunnels in Europe, which links the Swiss Romandy region via Haute-Savoie, France with Aosta Valley in Italy. Completed in 1965, the tunnel is situated at the northeast of Mont Blanc’s summit with 15 kilometers in length. It then crosses exactly under the summit of the Aiguille du Midi at 2480m beneath the surface. Thus, Mont Blanc tunnel is considerably the world’s deepest operational tunnel; not until by next year when Gotthard Base Tunnel, a railway tunnel through the Swiss Alps, will be operational.
It took around 30 minutes waiting for our turn to get into Mont Blanc tunnel. Actually, it would take even longer at times, most especially when the summer holiday begins or comes near to end.
It was worth the wait, anyway. For just 10 minutes driving into the tunnel, we made it quickly to northern Italy.
Then three hours more, we finally made it to Genoa.
Our First Bites of Italy
The famous novelist Paolo Coehlo once spoke in praise about Genoa:
Among the marvels of Italy, it will take some digging to find the beauties of Genoa, but it is worth visiting it. I remember walking there with a friend, when she suddenly said: “Let’s stop for a bit. I can’t stand this orange color!”
Since we were about to explore the Italian Riviera and the world-famous Cinque Terre, Genoa can actually be a good starting point.
Obviously, this city’s busy port is filled to the brim with yachts, cruises, ferries and cargo ships. Not also far from its center is Boccadesse, a small yet picturesque fishing village that would already provide a glimpse of these brightly colored terracotta-roofed houses (that I likewise saw in Cinque Terre), beautifully straddling along the Mediterranean coast.
Genoa is a very important historical port city in northern Italy, the capital of the Liguria region. Oftentimes overshadowed by Italian cities like Rome and Venice as a travel destination, Genoa actually has a long history as a rich and powerful trade center. It is apparently also the birthplace of explorer Christopher Columbus.
Today, Genoa can be best enjoyed with its hidden gems behind cozy alleyways, fresh seafood cuisines, the newly renovated marina, and artistic churches.
The incredibly twisty drive from Serravalle, along with the top view of the city from the motorway, was already the sign that we’re finally arriving in the city proper of Genoa.
As soon as we got ourselves settled at the hotel, we decided to stroll around right away before nightfall comes.
In Italy’s historic towns like Genoa, it’s typical to see apartments, shops, restaurants, and churches altogether (if not, some) in these narrow streets. Get ready to be amazed in a maze such as this!
A few turns in small alleys here and there, we finally ended up in Piazza De Ferrari.
Situated in the heart of Genoa, Piazza de Ferrari is the city’s main square that is renowned for its fountain, as it was restored in recent years along with a major restyling of the square. At the end of the 19th century, along with Milan, Genoa was the main financial center and business district of Italy. It is there in Piazza de Ferrari that many institutions were established, such as the stock exchange and the Credito Italiano.
Yet next to the square are also historical palaces and buildings. Once the home of Genoan dukes, the Palace of the Doges is now a museum. It is also a center for cultural events and art exhibitions. The Teatro Carlo Felice is the principal opera house in Genoa. Here is where you can find the equestrian statue of Guiseppe Garibaldi. The headquarters of the Ligurian region, the palace of the Ligurian Academy of Fine Arts, and the palace of the Duke of Galliera, Raffaele De Ferrari, to whom the square is dedicated.
A few streets away from the square, we found the Duomo di Genoa. In front of the cathedral are these cozy coffee shops. From there, we took our first sips of Italian coffee. The Cathedral of Genoa was probably founded in the 5th or 6th century. Later its construction began in the 12th century.
Today the cathedral is dedicated to Saint Lawrence and is the seat of the Archbishop of Genoa.
Genoa is definitely the most fitting city for us to start to enjoy Italy. Especially then that we’re moving to explore further the region of Liguria the next day.
WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
Would you like to visit Genoa someday too? Or have you been here before? What can you say about this historical old town in Italy? Do you think it deserves more attention as a travel destination compared to cities like Rome or Florence?