Genoa – The City’s History and Amazing Italian Wines

Here at xtraWine, we love casting a spotlight on some of Italy’s most amazing cities. Those who don’t know the country well likely still know the heavy hitters. The likes of Rome and Florence make it to the top of many a tourist’s wishlist.

And they’ve also had pages after pages of content written about them, which means we’re not going to focus on them here. You already know that they’re stunning cities with amazing Italian wines for you to sample.

This week, we want to take a look at a city that may fly under the radar for many of you – Genoa.

The city has a rich history that’s definitely worth exploring. Plus, it offers up some rather remarkable Italian wines that we’re going to take a look at here.

Genoa’s History

Like many major Italian cities, Genoa can trace its history back over millennia. In fact, it was in the 6thcentury BC that the city was founded by the ancient Etruscans. Before that, Celtic tribes had inhabited the land without establishing a formal city.

Genoa quickly began to prosper as it served as a natural port. Its central location made it useful for transferring goods between different cities and Genoa soon became a centre of trade. For all that’s happened in the city in the years since, its status as an important port is one of the main constants. 

209 BC brought the city’s first major tragedy though. A raid from the Carthaginians left the city in ruins and it wasn’t until the Romans arrived that the city got returned to its former glory.

During this time, Genoa exported wood, honey, and leather. Though there may have been a small wine trade in the city, it certainly didn’t reach the heights of many other Roman territories.

The dissolution of the Roman Empire gave Genoa its independence. And with that came entry into the many wars that defined the Italian territories during the Middle Ages. At one point, Genoa allied with Pisa to wrest control over the Corsican and Sicilian islands away from their natives. However, that alliance proved short-lived as the two cities ended up fighting one another for full control of the islands.

Such was the nature of the relationships between the cities that would eventually become Italy. And Genoa’s position as an important port city led to it enjoying a brief rise to power. It eventually toppled Pisa and managed to bring Venice under its control as well. At one point, the city’s power rivalled that of the Papacy.

However, the city’s expansion came with internal strife. While Genoa waged war against its neighbours, its own citizens began fighting with each other. By the late-14thcentury, all of this infighting had weakened the city, which opened the door for the Venetians to destroy Genoa’s fleet.

A port city without ships loses its major advantages

One by one, Genoa lost control of the territories that it had captured. And it was not until Andrea Doria acted as a uniting force within the city in the early 16thcentury that it started to come back to prominence.

Throughout the 1500s, Genoa established itself as a banking and a shipbuilding city. Again, the port began to flourish, which resulted in the rebuilding of its famous Lanterna. This lighthouse had the ability to cast a light over 36 nautical miles, make it a truly remarkable sight.

However, this return to strength wasn’t total. Genoa never expanded again, though it did manage to maintain its independence. That is until 1797, which is when Napoleon took control of the city. He united it unto the French kingdom for several years. And when Napoleon left, Genoa instead united into the Sardinian Kingdom. This meant the city played a crucial role in Italy’s full unification, which occurred in the 1800s.

That brings us to modern-era Genoa. War once again wreaked havoc on the port in the 1940s, as World War II brought with it heavy attacks. Terrible storms in the 1950s only compounded the damage.

As it has in the past, Genoa rebuilt and modernised.

Today, Genoa is Italy’s largest cargo and passenger ports, which makes the city one of Europe’s most important ports. It’s also a commercial and banking hub, though it still maintains some hints of its industrial past.

And of course, the port is now a major exporter of Italian wine.

The Wines of Genoa

As you can see, Genoa is a remarkable city that is well worth a visit for anybody who has an interest in Italian history.

But what does it have to offer for the wine lovers out there?

Genoa is the capital of the Liguria wine territory and it has several wonderful wines to offer you. Fish lovers will also delight in the fact that the port city has a bustling fish trade.

Of course, that means that the region has to offer a few tasty white wines. And there are few better than Cinque Terre wine. Made using the Bosco, Albarola, and Vermentino grapes, it’s a delectable Italian white wine that you absolutely have to sample. Enjoy it with a tasty fish dish to get a true taste of the beauty of Genoa. Incidentally, the wine also has a sweeter variety that may serve as a good dessert wine: Sciacchetrà.

Colline di Levanto is another white wine that makes use of the same grapes. However, that also comes in a variety that’s blended with Sangiovese.

Yes, Genoa is home to Sangiovese vineyards. And that means it has some spectacular Italian red wines as well.

Colli di Luni is probably the standout here. The wine makes use of Sangiovese to provide its base, though it usually has other grapes blended into the mix.

The Final Word

Genoa’s wines may not be the most well-known in the world of Italian wine. But they’re not without their qualities and they’re emblematic of a city that has a rich history and has survived so much turmoil.

We believe that every Italian city has something important to offer. Genoa is one of the underappreciated gems of the country.



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