Genoa, luxury shopping between Via Roma and the Galleria Giuseppe Mazzini
1. The beauties of Via Roma
Whether you want to feast your eyes on the shop windows or go on a shopping spree, this is the place to be. Since the street slopes slightly, we recommend walking from piazza Corvetto towards piazza De Ferrari for a more easygoing, downhill walk.
Opened in the 19th century to connect the Castelletto district to the centre, Via Roma joins the two squares of Genoa, lined by a sequence of splendid late 19th century buildings. You can also spot a few even older architectural gems, including the 16th-century Palazzo Doria-Spinola at the very beginning of the street.
Today, it is home to the Prefecture and the Province of Genoa, but it is still partially accessible to tourists. After admiring the frescoes on the façade, you are sure to be awe-struck by its marvellous lounges and Renaissance courtyard with loggias decorated with stuccoes and frescoes depicting city views. After you’ve had your fill of fantastic frescoes, we recommend stopping for a coffee at Mangini's, which was opened in 1876.
2. Luxury boutiques and historic shops
As well as the brand names on this street, including Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, Salvatore Ferragamo, Fratelli Rossetti, Hogan, Michael Kors, Tod's, Blauer and Pinko, there are plenty of very unique gems to discover.
On the main floor of Palazzo Orsini, number 8, is the GB Gallery, a space opened by the historic Giglio Bagnara clothing and furniture shop that dates back to 1869, located on the ground floor. It is well worth strolling along the Genoese terrazzo floor to admire the frescoes by Nicolò Barbarino, while browsing through the home furnishings showroom. With the exception of the historical furniture, you can purchase all of the exhibits. It is like shopping in a museum.
At number 38, you are sure to be wowed by the Art Nouveau entrance to another historic shop in Genoa: Finollo, which opened in 1899 and has since dressed generations of Genoese locals, with its made-to-measure shirts and hand-embroidered ties. It is the perfect opportunity to order one – they can be customised on request! Inside, it retains all the charm of an old-fashioned shop, with its wooden counters, display cabinets and decorated ceilings.
Number 51 houses Pietro Romanengo, the oldest confectionery shop in Italy, opened in 1780 on Via Soziglia. The second shop on Via Roma dates back to the 1930s. The recipes and production methods have been handed down in the family for seven generations. Pietro Romanengo’s delights have been enjoyed by Giuseppe Verdi and even treated guests at the wedding of Umberto I of Italy and Margherita of Savoy in 1868. Its candied fruits and gelées are unmissable, so be sure to take some home with you, in decorated wooden boxes wrapped in the famous blue confectionery paper.
3. Under the domes of the Galleria Giuseppe Mazzini
Built between 1870 and 1880, inspired by Parisian passages, the Galleria Giuseppe Mazzini in Genoa is considered the little sister of other famous Italian iron and glass structures, like the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan and the Galleria Umberto I in Naples. It boasts a very attractive covered walkway. Today, more modern shops have replaced the historic hatters' and umbrella-makers' shops, but there is still much to discover under its domes that let daylight shine through. In the evening, large bronze chandeliers light up the shopping gallery.
When walking in Genoa, it is always a good idea to look upwards so that you don’t miss the beauty of the porticoes and architecture, but don't forget to glance down from time to time too! This way, you get to admire the marble and brass mosaics dotted throughout the gallery since 1992, mirroring the domes.
On either side you will find shops, bars and restaurants, where Genoese locals, past and present, gather, stroll, chat and shop. The likes of Verdi, Paganini, Puccini and Mascagni used to meet here after an evening at the Teatro Carlo Felice , at one end of the Galleria. In days gone by, writers and artists would flock to the Diana and Roma cafés, while today they meet at the historic Europa restaurant for lunch or at the Mazzini bar for an aperitif. Among the clothing and shoe shops, you can find an old-fashioned stationery shop, the historic Bruzzo bookshop that opened in 1942 and a toy shop that has enchanted generations of children.
Save the date: every fourth Wednesday and Thursday of the month, except in August and December, the shopping gallery hosts an antiques fair, while at Christmas it has welcomed a book fair since 1926. A second spring edition is held in Piazza Matteotti, not far from the Galleria.