Best food experiences which make Genoa the most delicious city in Italy

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 01.01.2022

Genoa is often overlooked and under-appreciated. Yet it has the largest medieval centre in Europe, 42 World Heritage Palazzi and Genovese food is outstanding. Take a closer look and discover seven top Genoa foodie experiences, revealed by Natasha Foges. The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Italy your essential guide for visiting Italy.


Eat your way round historic Genoa Italy © Shutterstock

1. Eat pesto in its hometown

Genoa likes vegetables, so it's not the city for piling on pizza pounds. Instead try local pesto alla Genovese for its extra green and herby flavour which is almost exclusively down to the use of fresh Prà basil.

If you're really serious about Genovese pesto, visit Palazzo Ducale, the site of many pesto-making world championships and several gorgeous frescoes. Then discover local pesto lore on a traditional food tour round Genoa.


Try pesto alla Genovese in Genoa © Nelli Syrotynska/Shutterstock

2. Make space for Genoa focaccia

Focaccia is made to tempt you all over Genoa, so don't even try to resist. Head to the medieval old town and look for hole-in-the-wall Focaccerie, they're not hard to spot. And if you need a quick boost, try mid-morning focaccia with a bianchetta wine chaser.

For the city's best focaccio sandwiches at bargain prices, make for Il Gran Ristoro and order their famous focaccio with swordfish. Thinking about staying in the city? Book Genova Suite Art in the historic quarter.

3. Have lunch at a sciamadda

When in Genova you have to taste farinata chickpea flour pancakes. The best place to eat them is at traditional sciamadda, historic Ligurian inns where pancakes are baked in wood burning ovens.

For the best of the best farinata in Genoa visit the local favourite, Sa Pesta on Via Dei Giustiniani. And if you want some pancake prepping know-how and more, think about taking a private home cooking class in the city.

4. Walk off lunch in Genoa old town

Genoa’s old town is Europe's largest and Henry James called it, “most winding and incoherent'. So be prepared to get lost a little in its maze of twisting alleys punctuated by faded frescoes and startling ruined columns and arches.

If you need an energy boost while you're exploring, keep your eyes peeled for street vendors selling strips of fried tripe. Oily, salty and presented in little card cones, this much loved local snack is the ultimate Genovese street food.

Prefer to leave planning and booking to experts? Have a look at some sample itineraries. Both Complete Italy or Italy Itineraries offer inspiration. All Tailor Made Trips can be modified together with your local expert, then booked for a stress-free holiday. Click 'Modify this itinerary' to contact a local Italy expert.


Genoa medieval old town is the largest in Europe © Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock

5. Shop for sweets at Italy's oldest confectioner

Discover Genoa at its sweetest in the old town where quaint, old fashioned chocolaterie and bijou chocolate factories have been plying their delicious trade for over 150 years in some cases.

Elegant Romanengo on Via Soziglia is actually Italy's oldest confectioner and the place to go for candied fruit and sugared almonds. If you want to stick with tradition, think about staying at romantic Palazzo Grilli in the heart of Genoa's old town.


Shop Genoa old town for Baci di Genova biscuits © giovanni boscherino/Shutterstock

6. Take in the sights and sounds of the market

Don't miss Genoa’s Mercato Orientale or MOG. This contemporary cooking, eating and food sharing hub is set in a former monastery and even has its own cooking school (amateurs welcome).

It's a perfect spot to just hang out and have a drink, but also the place to find fresh fished anchovies, known locally as “bread of the sea”, as well as Prà basil and incredible Genoa tomatoes, peppers and mountain chestnuts.

If you're looking for foody souvenirs, MOG also has some of the city's tastiest gifts from local herbs and spices to Pandolce Genovese. In the mood for more markets? Book a place on a traditional market tour of Genoa.

7. Join the locals at aperitivo hour

Sundown is aperitivo time all over Italy and Genoa upholds the tradition in style. Join locals for basil mojitos on pretty piazza, snack on free focaccia and people watch. Piazza Lavagna is great for authentic atmosphere and Piazza delle Erbe has the liveliest aperitivo vibe.

Ready to travel to Italy? Find out about the best time to go and the best places to see and things to do in Italy. For inspiration use the Italy itineraries from The Rough Guide to Italy and our local travel experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there. And don't forget to buy travel insurance before you go.

We may earn commission when you click on links in this article, but this does not influence our editorial standards - we only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 01.01.2022

Planning your own trip? Prepare for your trip

Use Rough Guides' trusted partners for great rates

Ready to travel and discover

Get support from our local experts for
stress-free planning & worry-free travels

Plan my trip ⤍