Alex left for Alpini Ski School today, which is just about the coolest thing ever. Luckily the surprise training course didn’t affect our plans for Saturday – to head back to the west coast of Italy to visit the city of Genova and the largest aquarium in the country.
Acquario di Genova
We were told that the aquarium was the largest in Europe, but that’s not quite true. It’s the second largest. First place goes to Oceanografic in Valencia, Spain. But anyway, Genova’s aquarium was indeed very large and very… busy. Ok, busy is an understatement. The place was packed. If you go, I recommend going in the winter months, or at the very least avoid going on the weekend.
On Saturday, the first exhibit room was filled with people milling around a cylindrical tank, taking flash photos. An exasperated employee was practically pulling her hair out as she screamed “NO FLASH!!!” over and over and tried to explain in broken English that flash is bad for the animals’ eyes. Please, the next time you go to an aquarium or anywhere else where flash photography is prohibited, turn your flash off! There are good reasons for it.
But back to my story…. There were so many people that to get up to the glass you had to bodyslam your way through. It made me mad and when I’m mad, bodyslamming is hardly an issue. I got to see those sharks, damnit.
The further through the aquarium we got, the less crowded it became and about halfway through we were able to actually start to enjoy it. The place is a bit of a maze – there are lots of hallways and staircases and you never quite know if you’re going the right way until you come to the next room of exhibits. If fact, you never quite know where you are in the building, or even what floor you’re on. But luckily you don’t have much choice except to go with it.
There isn’t a lot else to tell about the aquarium, except that my favorite exhibit is still the jellyfish (meduse). The dolphins were fun to watch, too. I’m not even sure how many they had – there seemed to be several different tanks throughout the aquarium. It was certainly not my favorite aquarium, but it was still fun. I have to say of the ones I’ve visited, Myrtle Beach and Sarasota were the best.
PRICE: Luckily, our entrance fees were included in the trip. But according to their website, entrance to the aquarium is €24. That’s a crazy amount and I definitely can’t say it was worth that much. But some other fun things about this aquarium is that you can tack on tickets to some of their other attractions, including a children’s museum (Città dei Bambini), a tiny biodome, an aviary, and even a submarine.
There’s a lot to see in Genova, that’s for sure. I know we didn’t even get to see half of it, but that’s ok because Genova ended up not being one of our favorite cities. I think one of the problems with Genova is that it’s kind of confusing. There’s the harbor area with lots of tourist attractions, and built practically right above it is a highway. I’m sure it helps with traffic, but it does bugger-all for the aesthetics of the place.
We wandered away from the harbor up Via San Lorenzo toward Piazza de Ferrari. On the way, you can’t miss the beautiful striped basilica of St. Lorenzo. I wish we had gone in, but we were on a mission to find the Hofbräuhaus we’d seen on the map. Piazza de Ferrari was bustling with a large food market. I wish we could have brought home some of the salami and cheese and bread and candy and and and…. It all looked delicious. (And yes, that’s a boar’s head. That didn’t look so delicious.)
I’m glad we went to the piazza because aside from the market, it’s completely beautiful with a gorgeous fountain and equally gorgeous architecture surrounding it. The Hofbräuhaus was not directly in the piazza and it took us a while to find it. Once we finally did find it, we were completely let down. It was closed! If you go on a Saturday, don’t expect to get lunch there. They don’t even open until 6pm. But on weekdays it seems they do have lunch hours, if you’re interested.
We decided to head back to the harbor area and do a couple more touristy things before our time was up. Next to the aquarium there’s a pirate ship that you can explore for €5, but we decided getting some pictures in front of it was good enough.
On the other side of the aquarium you’ll see a giant white pincushion-looking thing sitting in the water. That is part of Genova’s Bigo, a tourist elevator that will lift you up high enough so you can see all of the city as well as out to sea. It costs €4 each and since we agreed we probably wouldn’t be coming back to Genova, we decided to do it and get pictures of the city. It’s not a spectacular attraction, but it’s worth it for the view.
You may already know that Christopher Columbus was born in Genova, and you can still see his childhood home. We didn’t bother because it’s nothing special. Columbus’s dad wasn’t wealthy, so apparently it’s just a plain-looking brick house with a few pieces of original furniture. Yawn.
We polished off the day with a well-deserved gelato – the first of the season! (Sadly they weren’t very good. Don’t get gelato at the Bigo Bar. Alex’s tiramisu gelato tasted like egg nog.)