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Savona is a port city in the Liguria region of northwestern Italy, with a rich history dating back to the Roman Empire, known for its historic architecture, cultural attractions, and beautiful beaches.

Short video of Savona.

Savona is a real pearl of the Ligurian Riviera, truly fascinating. It offers beautiful places to visit, starting from the historic center with monuments and palaces that tell the importance of Savona. A growing tourist activity has developed throughout the Province, which has brought the Riviera delle Palme to the top places in the world.

Savona is currently one of the major Italian commercial and tourist ports for cruise ships. Since 2003 the city has had a modern maritime station for cruises in the Mediterranean by Costa ships thanks to its three berths.

If you are arriving by train, you could either take a taxi or walk about one kilometer to the town center and then continue another 500 meters to the waterfront. Sometimes there is a crowd waiting for taxis at the train station, especially if there is a cruise ship in town, so you might as well walk.

After leaving the station, walk across the Letimbro River on the Via Sormano bridge to the small twin parks of Piazza del Popolo, which soon brings you to the main street of downtown Via Pietro Paleocapa.

The wide thoroughfare is lined with porticos on both sides, usually with various sidewalk kiosks selling produce, books, clothing and more.

Notice the nicely decorated arches and building facades, with colorful painted scenes surrounding the balconies. Pedestrian areas, porticos, and the picturesque 'caruggi' also make the old town center a pleasant place to stroll. If you look upwards, above the colorful shop windows, you can admire the magnificent Art Nouveau buildings.

Midway along Via Pietro Paleocapa, crossing at right angles, is Corso Italia, one of the most lovely streets in the city, a pedestrian zone with lots of people out for a walk and many shops lining both sides. It extends to the Priamar Fortress, described later.

Upon reaching the harbor, the first site is a medieval tower, the Torre Leon Pancaldo. This medieval building is located on the port of Savona at the end of the central Via Paleocapa. It was mentioned for the first time in a document of 1392 and was part of the walls to protect the city, in a strategic position for the defense of both the adjacent Quarda gate and the port. After the destruction of the walls by the Genoese in 1527, the tower remained standing. It is named after the Savonese navigator Leon Pancaldo, who attempted to circumnavigate the world in the Ferdinand Magellan expedition. However, Pancaldo was captured by the Portuguese at the Moluccas in 1522. Five years later, he managed to get home to Savona, completing his circumnavigation.

To the west of the main boulevard are a few dark and narrow old streets, some with washing suspended from the windows. These passages are survivals of the Middle Ages, with pastel colors and original architecture adding to the charm.

Much of this area was demolished in the late 19th century to make way for modern buildings. Further demolitions took place in the 20th century, especially in the old Cassari district. During World War II, in 1942, the British Royal Air Force planes dropped bombs in the historic center of Savona, causing the destruction of numerous buildings. Subsequent reconstructions created the tasteful mix of current residential, commercial, and retail uses.

The marina

The marina is the heart of town with hundreds of pleasure boats tied up along the docks, and restaurants lining the shores. This is the prime spot for visitors.

Some of the boats sell cooked fresh fish right off their sterns to hungry travelers. You cannot get any fresher than that, in a nautical atmosphere with many free tables available.

In addition to its cultural and historical attractions, Savona is known for its food and wine. The city is located in the heart of the Ligurian wine region, and visitors can sample a wide range of local wines and culinary specialties. Some of the most popular dishes include pesto pasta, seafood, and farina, a type of flatbread made from chickpea flour.

In the evening, the old Darsena district comes alive with people who flock to the many bars, having an aperitif accompanied by the ever-present fried Panisse.


Via Paleocapa, Corso Italia, and Via Pia are some of the streets where you can shop in Savona: among the shops and workshops, there are also historic shops, recognized as such by the Chamber of Commerce. They include Amaretti Virginia (1860), hardware store Fava Gioacchino Co (1790), Minuto Caffè (1850), Augusto Vincenzo Besio (1860), Nobili Bros by Nobili Giovanni & Partners (1876) and Carlevarini Giovanni & G. Co (1909). They cater to the needs of all types of customers, even those on the lookout for rarities and peculiar objects.

On Mondays, Piazza del Popolo, Ratti, Guidobono, Astengo, Verzellino, Montenotte, Rella, and Corso Italia liven up with the colors, fragrances, and traditions of an open-air market. More than 270 stalls of all kinds come to the weekly event most awaited by the people of Savona: you can buy household items, clothes, groceries, and much more.

Priamar Fortress

The one site that makes Savona unique and worth visiting is the Priamar Fortress, which was built in the 16th century. The fortress is now home to a museum showcasing Savona's history and the surrounding region. Visitors can explore the fortress walls, climb to the top of the tower for stunning views of the city, and learn about the area's history.

The Priamar Fortress, built by the Republic of Genoa between 1542 and 1544 to protect the city from invaders, is one of the symbols of the city. The Priamar monumental complex in the tourist port area is an important cultural and tourist center in Liguria. This is among the most impressive fortified structures in the Mediterranean area. The citadel includes buildings, pavilions, squares, and walkways in a succession of closed spaces and open spaces, many of which are free to enter. It rises high in a dominant position over the sea with a 360-degree view of Ligurian coast and the Savona hills.

Today it is a cultural and social meeting point, within which there are different attractions: Civic Archaeological Museum, Sandro Pertini and Renata Cuneo Museum, an open-air theater, workshops and artisan workshops, and various spaces used as congress centers or for art exhibitions. The Palazzo del Commissario is used as a venue for artistic, cultural and tourist events.

To make way for the mighty ramparts, which enhance the strategic position of the rocky promontory of Priamar, one of the most important districts of the medieval city was destroyed, including, among other things, the Cathedral of Santa Maria di Castello, the bishop's palace, the Dominican convent, the ten oratories of the confraternities and the three city hospitals.

Over the centuries, the fortified complex underwent numerous expansions and transformations, also becoming a prison in which Giuseppe Mazzini was imprisoned between November 1830 and January 1831. The cell can be visited today. While locked up in the Priamar cells, Mazzini conceived the concept of "Young Italy," which is considered by many to be the founding principle of a unified nation.

The two nearby towers, Brandale and Leon Pancaldo are among the most appreciated attractions by tourists, having survived over the centuries.

Savona is also known for its beautiful beaches, which offer swimming, sunbathing, and water sports opportunities. One of the most popular beaches is the Bagni Lido, which features clear blue waters and soft sand. Visitors can rent chairs and umbrellas or enjoy a meal at one of the beachside restaurants.


"The city of the popes," another name by which Savona is known, is rich in religious architectural structures: in addition to the Monumental Complex of the Cathedral, including the Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel, the Treasury Museum, and the Apartment of Pope Pius VII, there are a must visit the main speakers. Pope Julius II was born near Savona.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, the Sistine Chapel, the Treasury Museum, and the Apartments of Pope Pius VII, form the Monumental Complex of the Cathedral. The Cathedral features stunning frescoes, marble columns, and a beautiful altar.

The Cathedral of the Assumption, Cathedral of Savona, is the main place of Catholic worship in the city, the mother church of the Diocese of Savona-Noli, and is located in the city's historic center. The building stands on the site of an older Franciscan complex founded in 1259. The Cathedral is in Baroque style and houses numerous paintings from various sources and a beautiful 15th-century baptistery, as well as a detailed marble crucifix carved on both sides attributed to Giovanni Angelo Molinari (15th century) and to a wooden sculpture depicting the crowning with thorns, a masterpiece by Anton Maria Maragliano from the Church of Santa Lucia.

The interior looks for effects of grandeur and majesty in line with the style of the counter-reformist climate from which it differs in the layout, which here has three naves.

The Sistine Chapel of Savona, next to the Cathedral, was built in the 16th century to create a funeral chapel for his parents Closely connected to the more famous Sistine Chapel in Rome's Vatican, both were built by order of Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484), who grew up near Savona. His uncle, Pope Julius II, commissioned Michelangelo to paint the famous ceiling. The Savona Chapel features stunning frescoes that were painted by the Italian artist Ludovico Brea.


Inhabited in ancient times by Ligures tribes, Savona came under Roman influence in c. 180 BC, after the Punic wars in which the city had been allied to Carthage. At the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it passed under Lombard rule in 641 AD (being destroyed in the attack) after a short period as an Ostrogoth and then Byzantine possession. Later it recovered as a county seat in the Carolingian Empire. In the 10th century, its bishops were counts of Savona, but later the countship passed to the Marquesses of Montferrat (981) and afterward to the Marquesses Del Vasto (1084).

After a long struggle against the Saracens, Savona acquired independence in the 11th century, becoming a free municipality allied with the Emperor. Savona was the center of religious culture (13th to 16th centuries) due to the work of two important monasteries: Dominican and Franciscan. In the Middle Ages, the city was among the most active in trade, resulting in a rivalry with the powerful and nearby Genoa. Subsequently, it fought against Genoa before being definitively conquered in 1528.

One of Savona's most celebrated former inhabitants was the navigator Christopher Columbus, who grew up here and farmed land in the area while chronicling his journeys. Columbus's house is a cottage situated in the Savona hills, between vegetable crops and fruit trees. It is one of several residences in Liguria associated with Columbus.

The Genoese destroyed the upper town and buried the port. It then shared the fortunes of the Republic of Genoa until Napoleonic times.  In 1796 Napoleon Bonaparte settled in Savona with his headquarters. One of the most daring of Napoleon's moves on the chessboard of Europe was the steady pressure he brought upon the Papal authority, resulting in 1809 imprisonment for a few years of Pope Pius VII at Savona. Between April and mid-May 1800, Austrian forces besieged the city while a small British naval force maintained a blockade; the fortress surrendered on 15 May. Subsequently, Savona was annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont (1815). Eventually, it became part of a unified Italy.

Overall, Savona is a beautiful and historic city that offers something for everyone. Its rich history, beautiful beaches, and delicious food and wine make it a must-visit destination for tourists traveling to the Liguria region of Italy.

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