Our Travels • Savona Italy

Our Travels • Savona Italy

After a wonderful day in Marseille, France, we awakened to our next port of call -Savona, Italy. This is actually the Costa Serena’s home port. After a bit of research, it seemed that most of the touristy things to do were in Genoa. Costa offers a tour to Genoa for about 29,00 euros per person, but as a generation raised on Gilligan’s Isle, we are trained to be leery of five hour tours. So we opted to take our chances with the ‘working’ port town of Savona. As we pulled into port, lo and behold there was a Tourist Train! Decision made, Savona it is!

One of the benefits of cruising the Mediterranean, versus cruising the Caribbean, is you don’t carry your passport. Yep, you read that correctly-upon embarkation, Costa takes your passport and holds it for safe keeping. Oh yes, we were quite skeptical of this at first. Me on the phone to the customer service desk: Where do we pick-up our passports before getting off the ship? The nice lady at the front desk: You don’t need your passport, you just need your Costa card, we keep the passports until the end of your cruise for safe-keeping. Ced upon hearing her response: And you’re fine with that (answer)? After a quick trip to the front desk, it was further explained that while traveling through the EU (European Union) countries, it was not necessary to carry your passport, just your Costa cruise card. If anything should happen to a guest while in a port, the authorities would use the Costa card to track down their passports from the cruise ship as needed. Wow, no worries about lost or stolen passports! There are other benefits to cruising within the EU countries, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Costa’s port in Savona is spacious and state of the art, boasting hundreds of solar panels on it’s roof.

There is a nice shopping area to the right of the port, including the Savona Tourism office, boutique clothing, coffee shop with internet access, restaurants and a hotel, the NH Savona Darsena.

As you make your way into town there is an amazing mini sculpture of the city of Savona. Savona used to be one of the chief seats of the Italian iron industry, having iron-works and foundries, shipbuilding, railway workshops, engineering shops, and a brass foundry.

While waiting for our turn on the tourist train, we took time to get a few photos.

Our ship was literally parked next to the city, making a quick jaunt into the town center a must for the afternoon!

Savona’s recently completed drawbridge, the ponte Capasso, was in operation while we waited.

Here’s Ced helping out some of our fellow cruisers.

Our turn for the tourist train! This is a great way to get your bearings when visiting a new city.

Riding through town, we found the architecture to be very typical of many of Italian towns.

After a great mini tour, it was time to explore. A couple of photos on the drawbridge and then we were off!

Very often, in every group, there’s one person who takes most of the photos, and is usually behind the scenes instead of in them. For this trip, I installed an app on my phone called Groopic that allows you to photograph your family and friends and then swap the phone with someone already in the photo, take your spot in the shot and the app blends it together with just a click of a button. Viola! No one has to be left out of the photo.

Great view of the port with the Ligurian Apennines mountains in the distance.

We never were able to find out the story behind this guy, but he sure looks a lot like the Gorton’s Seafood guy! LOL

SVD Savona e Dintorni– a cool little app to help you navigate several municipalities in this area, including Savona. Although you can choose your language, a lot of the content still displays in Italian.

Ahh, the benefits of exploring….the ART & CIOCC chocolate festival!

After indulging our sweet tooth (I just LOVE samples!), we continued wandering through the streets of Savona. Some of architectural detail was just amazing!

Our walking tour brought us to the Priamar Fortress (Italian: Fortezza del Priamar).

The fortress was built in 1542 by the Republic of Genoa on a promontory which in medieval times was the nucleus of Savona, by design of architect Giovanni Maria Olgiati. However, traces of pre-Roman, Roman and Byzantine presences in the site have been excavated in the past centuries, and are now on display in Savona’s Archaeological Museum.

In the 17th century the fortress received bastions designed by the Spanish Royal engineer Domenico Sirena, and in the 18th century were added the commissar’s, officers’ and Sibilla palaces. In order to create space for the new structures, edifices of the medieval Savona, including its cathedral (built in the 9th century over a pagan temple), were demolished.

Map by Matteo Vinzoni (1773) showing Savona and the fortress.

In 1746, in the course of the War of Austrian Succession, it was stormed by the Piedmontese grenadiers. In 1820, after the annexion of Liguria to Piedmont, it became a prison. During the Risorgimento, Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini was jailed in the Priamar Fortress.

The fortress, which could house up to 500 prisoners, remained Italy’s main military prison until 1903, when its role was taken by the castle of Gaeta.

Courtesy Wikipedia

Fabulous views of the city!

More great views of Savona from the top of the fortress. The beach at Corso Vittorio Veneto is nice and within walking distance of the city… well, at least in warmer weather LOL.

Throughout Spain and Italy, we saw wind turbines, solar panels and evidence of alternative energy sources. A great mix of the old with the new…

Excavation revealed pre-Roman, Roman and Byzantine artifacts.

While taking this photo, an older gentleman approached us. He did not speak English, but was very intent on explaining something of the history of the building. He explained that Savona is the hometown of Christopher Columbus, although some sources list Genoa as his hometown. The man went on to show us, through several copied sources from Wikipedia Spain, that not only was Columbus from Savona, his family still owned property there! Afterwards, he thanked us and he went on his way. As it turns out, there is still a lot of controversy as to where Columbus was born, his nationality, even whether his surname is Colombo or Colon. In the words of the Tootsie Pop commercial, the world may never know…

After an amazing day of exploring Savona, it was time to sail away to our next port of call.

At this point, Ced turned to me and asked if I had remembered to have our yacht shrink wrapped for the winter…of course I had! Doesn’t everyone shrink wrap their yacht for the winter? ; )

Views of Savona as we sail away.

On to our next port of call Naples, Italy!

Author: Desiree Carter

Photos: © Cedric Carter

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