Italy's largest sea port is indefatigably contradictory, full at once of grandeur, squalor, sparkling light and deep shade. It's a gateway to the Riviera for many travellers today, but a weighty architectural heritage speaks of its former glory – the Most Serene Republic of Genoa ruled over the Mediterranean waves during the 12th to the 13th centuries – and history feels alive in Genoa. No more is this true than in its extensive old city, an often confronting reminder of premodern life with its twisting maze of caruggi (narrow streets), largely intact. Emerge blinking from this thrillingly dank heart to Via Garibaldi and the splendid Enlightenment-era gold-leaf halls of the Unesco-listed Palazzi dei Rolli.
These are the top experiences and sights in Genoa, according to Lonely Planet.