Genoa was a surprise in many ways. The first surprise was that we were even going there, but logistically it made the most sense. I booked one night in a hotel that was recommended to me on the ST message board. I really didn't do a lot of research about Genoa because we were only staying one night. I did find out that the oldest part of Genoa is an amazing place to explore, and also read that Genoa has worked hard to clean up its image. Being a port town means that you have a lot of people coming and going, along with a lot of merchandise - obviously some of those people, and probably some of that merchandise, is less than desirable. For this reason port towns can be a little rowdier, but also a little more open and forward-thinking. I wasn't sure what to expect, but Genoa was a very pleasant surprise.
After FINALLY finding our hotel (I hatehatehate driving in unfamiliar cities!!!), the Hotel Bel Soggiorno, we set out on foot to wander through the old part of town. Many of the huge mansions built by the wealthy merchants of Genoa now house banks or have been converted into museums, so it's still possible to walk down the street surrounded by the oppulence of an earlier time.
Eventually we made our way down to the port, and the area was beautiful with large open spaces, a new aquarium (the largest in Europe I think), a biosphere, and of course boats from all over the world. We found an open-top bus tour and decided it would allow us to see the most of the city during our limited time.
I could have easily spent another full day in Genoa, maybe even two full days - there are lots of museums to visit, plus the aquarium and biosphere. We just missed the last sightseeing boat of the day, but I'd put this on my list of things to do too - I think seeing the city from the sea would be interesting. Good food, especially seafood, is easy to find here too.
For those of you interested in costs, the Hotel Bel Soggiorno cost €75. Our room was small but adequate, with an ensuite bathroom. The rate included a very nice breakfast buffet, and parking was an additional €12 by special arrangement with the parking garage for a large department store. We found out the hard way that just because we'd requested parking didn't necessarily mean there was a spot reserved for us. The garage was tiny and we were lucky to find a narrow spot we could squeeze our car into! Later in the evening when we returned to the car to retrieve something we were able to move the car to a better location with more than a few inches on each side!
Here's a slideshow with all our photos from Genoa: