Genoa is peppered with UNESCO World Heritage experiences, most notably the Palazzi di Rolli. These 16th-century palaces once housed Genoa's nobility and were required to be listed on the "rolls" as possible lodging for visiting international dignitaries. Spend a day exploring the Musei di Strada Nuova (palaces turned art galleries) and the boutique shops between them. Save a few hours for the abundance of medieval and Renaissance churches that flank the Via Garibaldi; some of the city's most precious art lies within their walls.

Although Genoa has been hit by the economic downturn, there is still a desire to celebrate the events of the city's past. One of four major historic maritime republics (along with Venice, Amalfi, and Pisa), "La Superba" Genoa remains connected to the stories and seafaring traditions. Every four years, Genoa hosts the annual July Regatta celebrating this history. So in 2014 and 2018, expect to encounter hundreds of costumed boatmen, live music, and nighttime street parties.