Many streets and squares in Genoa’s city center are named after trade corporations that were headquartered there in the Middle Ages.
Piazza dei Tessitori (weavers), Via dei Pescatori (fishermen), Vico dei Tintori (dyers), dei Fornai (bakers), dei Corrieri (couriers)… bear testimony to the fact that not everyone here was born a sailor and destined to travel the world. Many Genoese people never set out to sea, and instead stayed home pursuing activities that might sound less exciting, yet were as useful and noble as the endeavors of famous conquerors that went down in history.
In fact, the history of this fascinating city flows through alleyways barely lapped by the sea: in Genoa, people (
of the race of those who remain on earth, to quote a verse by great Genoese poet Eugenio Montale) lived and continue to live their own big and small adventures on dry land.
Over the centuries, artisan workshops have multiplied in Genoa, eroding the direct relationship between place names and active businesses (although some exceptions remain, such as Via dei Macelli di Soziglia where a few butchers still have their shops).
In 2011, Genoa’s historical shops – technically, the ones with over seventy years in business – were recorded in a register meant specifically to protect and preserve their unique history.
We chose five of these splendid shops along a short, 1-kilometer tour around the very heart of this superb city.
We start from Tripperia La Casana – named after the alley where it is located. Since 1811, this is where you can come to enjoy any dish based on tripe – prepared just as it was two centuries ago. A perfect choice if you want to eat something typical with little financial and logistical effort: sit at the counter and taste Ligurian-style tripe or, if available that day, “sbira” (Genoese factory workers’ typical meal: tripe soup).
Tripperia La Casana
Vico Casana, 3r
Tel: +39 010 2474357
Open Monday to Saturday from 8.30am to 1.30pm and from 4pm to 7pm.
Walking all the way up Vico della Casana, turn left on Via di Soziglia and, proceeding straight on Via degli Orefici and Via Banchi, reach the intersection with Via Ponte Reale, where you will find the workshop of engraver Luigi Busellato marked by a red number 3. The shop has been on this street since 1896, as the old “Stamp and enameled iron and brass plaques factory” sign declares. Making stamps, engravings, prints and plates with old methods makes this shop a treasure trove of intact traditions, which however welcomes the opportunities offered by new technologies and puts them to good use.
Luigi Busellato snc
Via Ponte Reale, 3r
Tel. and Fax +39 010 2472344
Open Monday to Friday from 9am to 12.30pm and from 3.30pm to 7pm; on Saturdays from 9am to 12.30pm.
To reach Libreria Antiquaria Dallai just walk down Via di Sottoripa (which crosses Via Ponte Reale), turn on Vico delle Compere and enter Piazza De Marini. For seventy years, in the De Marini-Croce building now part of UNESCO’s World Heritage, the members of the Dallai family have provided their clients with expert guidance on maps, valuable prints (especially focused on naval and seafaring themes), and ancient volumes dating as far back as the 16th century.
Our next stop is Sa Pésta, a “trattoria” that opened on Via dei Giustiniani in the 1950s. Walk down Vico dei Cassai and Via Canneto il Curto to sit down and enjoy their best dish: farinata “mixed with red chickpea flour, cooked with oil in a pan”, as an old Genoese recipe book requires. There is also a range of delicious pies (with onions, vegetables, beets, rice, anchovies), where the main ingredient is local cheese “prescinseua”. Prepare for some amazing traditional flavors.
Via dei Giustiniani, 16r
Tel: +39 010 2468336
Opening times: for lunch, Monday to Saturday from 12pm to 2pm; for dinner, from Thursday to Saturday from 7pm to 8.30pm (last admission 8.30pm). By reservation only. Always closed on holidays.
From Via dei Giustiniani, walk down Vico delle Virtù to reach our last stop: Drogheria Torielli, in Via di San Bernardo. Here since the late 19th century, with its showcases and early 20th-century furniture full of natural products, honey, tea, infusions, 250 different kinds of spices from all over the world, essences, chocolate, candy… this is the quintessence of traditional Genoese apothecaries, with a bonus white lacquered Art Nouveau counter.
Via di San Bernardo, 32
Tel.: +39 010 2468359
Open from 9am to 12.30pm and from 4pm to 7.20pm. Closed all day Sunday and Wednesday afternoon.