5 things to do in Savona Italy
Here is my list of 5 things to do in Savona Italy. An overlooked gem with lots of sparkle compared to some of the other tourist destinations in Liguria.
When I visited the Ligurian representation at WTM in London last year I asked what to see in Savona.
‘I don’t really know’ the tourist board lady said. ‘I’ve never been there. But Noli is very nice. You really should go visit Noli.’
With 60.000 inhabitants Savona is one of the biggest cities in Liguria, while Noli is a tiny village, but as an industrial town which has been heavily based on the iron industry Savona has not got the best reputation. In spite of a fabulous location locked into a sunny bay between the sea and the Ligurian Alps and other interesting places to explore. At least I am glad, I took the time to visit, and I’d recommend others to do the same, if you find my top 5 things to do in Savona Italy at all attractive. You’ll find a list of accommodation here.
Harbour and Beach
Take a walk around the inner harbour and enjoy the sunshine, the glittering light and the charming diversity between expensive yachts and old fashioned fishing boats where some are sipping champagne while others mend their nets. Here you will see most of the city landmarks from a distance along with the fish auction and some nice outdoor cafes. If the weather is warm you can go to the beach on Corso Vittorio Veneto. Savona is one of a few Italian cities offering beaches within walking distance from the city centre. And even if you can spot a railway and some factories in the distance the beach facilities look clean and inviting.
Medieval Fortress and 19th Century Prison
In between the beach and the harbour you pass the Priamar fortress built in 1542 and used as a prison housing up to 500 prisoners during most of the 19th century. Pre-Roman, Roman and Byzantine traces have also been found on site, and today Priamar houses Savona’s Archaeological Museum (when it is not closed for reconstruction, Mondays or noon-breaks).
Savona’s Very Own Sistine Chapel
I seem to recall there are only two Sistine Chapels in the world. One is in Rome and another one is in Savona. The word Sistine implies that the chapel was erected by Pope Sixtus IV who was born in Savona and wanted a mausoleum for his parents. The Savonese Cappella Sistina can be found behind the cathedral. It has been renovated in the Rococo style with ornate decorations, golden curlicues and a ceiling painted by Paolo Geralamo Brusco (don’t expect Michelangelo). Visitors also marvel over the carved wooden choir seats and the elegant cloister garden.
Savona skyline is marked by a few medieval towers. Most famous is La Torretta clocktower at the end of Via Paleocapa by the harbour. It was part of an old defense structure. The ‘ghibelline Towers’ date back to the 16th century when they were the most prominent of about 50 towers constructed along the city walls. With a bonfire on the roof these towers used to serve as lighthouses.
Enjoy the Art Nouveau Architecture
When you have finished looking up and around you’ll have plenty of time to take in the city with shops, cafes, promenades and old men hanging around in groups on the open squares. One more detail I found particularly fascinaing, however, was the wealth of Art Nouveau or ‘Ottocento’ architecture giving even ordinary houses a little story, squiggle and Schwung.
When you have finished 5 things to do in Savona Italy you might also like
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Your Google map came in handy with this post. Looks well worth spending some time in – though I’d never heard of it before.
I find maps help too. I don’t think anyone can place every city on the globe without some sort of guidance.
Beach, harbour, Sistine chapel, medieval towers? Definitely sounds like it’s worth a visit. Shame on the Tourism board for not knowing this.
Savona certainly sounds beautiful and inviting. It’s too bad the tourism board didn’t work hard enough to promote what you highlighted here. A fortress and a Sistine chapel are enough to get me to visit.
It is strange they don’t promote it better. Especially, as some of the cruise ships embark or stop in Savona.
Harbour cities often have a rough, gritty feel, and are appealing in their own way. Savona looks interesting, I’ll stop and have a look around next time I’m in the area.
Yes, it makes it more exciting to explore.
It’s always good to read about a destination that is no so popular. I’d definitely enjoy a walk around the harbor and enjoy the sunshine. Great tips, Mette!
Thanks. And you you can spend hours around the harbour.
Thanks, my Mum’s family is from Savona, my great grandfather was Angelo Noli and they emigrated from Savona to South Africa in the early 1900s. I’m planning a trip to Liguria to do some family tree research.
How interesting to have roots like that waiting to be discovered.
Angelo Noli was my great-great grandfather.Have only recently found this out.I am also busy undertaking family research.
Would love to hear from you.
What a coincidence. If you are interested, I can send your email address to Carmella.
Thank you for the information.visited briefly 2 years ago.returning in a few weeks.to be continued.
Have a nice trip – Hope you will follow up with some additional tips:)
You forgot to mention that the best chinotto comes from Savona. I hope to visit one day as I am a Savona and my family came from there some time ago, but it’s a long way from Australia.
Hate to admit it, nut I needed google’s help to learn that chinotto is a carbonated soft drink. Shame on me. Now I have to go and try it:)
How fascinating about the clock towers, that with lighting a bonfire it also served as a lighthouse. A great read! :)
Yes, some of the old inventions are quite ingenious.
I am going on a cruise and it docks in Savona so looking forward to exploring. Love harbours and sitting in cafes watching the locals. Thanks for the info.
Then I’m sure you’ll enjoy Savona. Have a great trip:)
I am going to be in Savona next week on a cruise , thank you for your helpful information .
Thanks for the feedback. I really hope you’ll enjoy it.
We are due to visit the area around Savona in May with a television crew. Do you know of any activities that are available that are maybe not advertised and have either a cultural relevance or would be fun for a group of 8, 20+ year olds?
That’s a tough one, as it depends very much on your interests and the days your are visiting. The Italian web-pages I’ve checked haven’t got announcements for more that the coming month, so what I can find is a Drinkeat festival (May 5-7) and some flea markets. The university of Genua has a campus in Savona, so there are activities for 20-somethings around town including music bars, cafes and nightclubs. There are churches, museums (eg. an apple museum) and caves to be visited. Great areas for hiking in the nearby mountains, and on Saturdays from 10-12 you can climb the Torre del Brandale. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of things to do in Savona. Both Giro del Italia bicycvle race and Mille Miglia for vintage cars take place in May, but neither of these events stop by Savona this year. Unfortunately.
I need you help regarding my coming 4 day cruise trip to Savona. I am travelling into april month and could you please suggest me better and enjoying ways to my destinations. I have to came from Zurich to Savona and after 4 days back to Paris from Savona. Anyone can help me to manage these transfers and make memorable stay at Savona because i dont know local language….i want to make arrrangments before trip with help of you friends!!!
Hi Ajit, Unfortunately I can’t help you with these specific details, as information about transfers and transportation change constantly. But I’m sure you will meet some people along the way, who speak English and will be able to help you, and I hope you will have a marvelous time exploring the attractions of Savona.
I want to visit here because my grandmother was from Savona.
Understandably:) But the town is quite gorgeous in its own right, as well.
We travelled to Savona today based on these recommendations – another added bonus – prices in restaurants and bars very reasonable (shockingly) compared to other port side towns!
Glad to hear you agreed, and that the prices are still affordable.