The Gritty G: Genoa, Italy

I left Milan and took the train to Genoa where I would be working for the week.  Renee and I had already peeped out crazy at the train station this morning.  In fact, Renee had dubbed this person “Bushwick Bill” because the resemblance from afar was uncanny and this person just started going off for no reason. However, upon closer inspection, Bushwick Bill turned out to be Bushwick Belinda. Crazy has no gender, y’all.

The train ride to Genoa was actually very peaceful. We rode thru the alps and I got to see a lot of snow! A couple of towns looked like something out of a fairy tale.  However, once I got to Genoa (or “Genova” as it is called here), things changed. New Nikki is still trying to hang on and be positive. It’s still January! I check into my hotel — The Grand Hotel Savoia (which is actually pretty cool — each room is different and is furnished with antique furniture).  You can read my hotel review here.  The view from the room is nice too!

After I check-in, I decided to explore the city and find a good hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant & some gelato. Sounds pretty simple, right? Wrong.

I start out walking around trying to get acquainted with the area so I know where I need to go tomorrow. So, I’m walking and passing some nice sites which I am sure would be stunning when it’s sunny —


But, I start to notice something. In 1 hour, I have seen more Africans and Asians than I have in the 9 days I’ve been in France & Italy. Not only that…they are the majority of the people I am seeing which is why I even noticed. Native Italians are scarce. I’m hungry and trying to find an Italian restaurant is proving difficult.  If you want Chinese or Moroccan, you’ve got your pick. It was so weird seeing a majority of people who were not “Italian”. I almost thought about hosting a telethon or something because they seem to be extinct!  I’m guessing it’s because it’s a Sunday.

Anyway, I’m walking and I’m hungry. At this time, Old Nikki is making an appearance because I’m irritated that I can’t find an Italian restaurant that is open. I’m reduced to walking the back streets trying to find something. Now, in hindsight, this may not have been my smartest move because let me tell you…I saw the underbelly of Genoa. But, hunger makes you do strange things. I’m walking and I see every ethnic group except Italian.  You’ve got hair salons, knock-off bags (seriously…it was like Canal Street), folks playing craps and drinking beer…overall, it was the ghetto. You didn’t see dogs wearing their designer outfits here. I can’t find a gelatteria but, I did find some woman going off on a guy, a guy getting his hair cornrowed (seriously?), liquor stores, every ethnic store you can think of and Black Widow Records.

Oh, and I can’t forget about the sex shops…everywhere. But, they call them “sexy shops”.  That’s right, I had to attach a picture because I knew y’all wouldn’t believe me. This is just one of the (what I am sure) are dozens. You can buy your porn right on the main drag or the dark alleys (which surround the city and offer you all kinds of things you don’t want your mama knowing about). I mean, when you have signs notating that you can buy your porn soft or hard, I think that may be a bit much. A selection of porn but no gelato? You see where I’m going with this?

Between all the ethnic groups and sex shops, I had to ask myself how long I slept on the train because maybe I missed my stop? I have never seen Italy like this. It’s like the HBO/Cinemax version of Epcot. A bit of Africa, China, Amsterdam, and India.

After walking around in the ghetto (and getting lost still searching for some daggum gelato. I mean, come on, Italy! How are you not going to have gelato but you got Moo Goo Gai Pan???), I feel like I’m a survivor. In fact, I’m penning my rhymes now that I got street cred and submitting my track “Where the D@$n Gelato?” to Black Widow Records [“You got General Tsos but no Gelato…that’s wackity wack.”] LOL. Shoot, next week, I may be rolling with the B-Dub crew. Kinda like their Tupac or something. That’s right. Y’all don’t know about the Italian Bankhead.

Nikki’s Nest: Grand Hotel Savoia (Genoa, Italy)

The Grand Hotel Savoia

I’ve had the pleasure of staying at The Grand Hotel Savoia three separate times over the course of a year.  This magnificent 5 star hotel was built in the 1897 by the Fioroni family.  Due to its close proximity to the port, the Grand Hotel Savoia received the most important European upper class travellers waiting for boarding on the ships.  Per the hotel website, “The Guest book, with signatures of important personalities of that time, is not only the evidence of the glorious past, but still represents the role of first importance that the Grand Hotel Savoia played on the stage of the Italian Hotel Industry.”


Located in the Aquaverde square, “Il Grande Hotel Savoia” is in the historic centre of Genoa and convenient to the train station (which is just a 5 minute walk from the hotel) and the port (which is about a 10 minute walk).  The nearest airport (Cristoforo Colombo) is only 7 km from the hotel.  And, starting Feb. 1, 2012, the hotel will offer free airport shuttle service!

What’s great about the location is that you are within walking distance to almost everything (or you can take the Metro or cheap taxi).  If you take a 10 minute walk, you can visit Aquario di Genova (Genoa Acquairum), Palazzo Reale, Galata Museo del Mare and the shopping area of the city.  Trust me, there are so many delicious restaurants, you want to make sure you get out and about.

My second room at the Grand Hotel Savoia


 “A style that tells…” This is how the hotel introduces their room decor. 

 “You will see typical elements of Liguria’s architecture in the wardrobes; the images on the inside walls remind us the city and its history. Old trunks and relics of far-away countries are reminiscence of the golden age of the great transatlantic trips. The rich  stuffs have colours inspired to the nature: sea, sky, slate (Genoa traditional stone), sand and sun are tightly tied up to Liguria; These are perfect suggestions for relating the hotel to the territory that surrounds us. Every single room is different from the others, and each one tells us a different story…”

They offer 5 classes of rooms:  Classic, Deluxe, Executive, Junior Suite, and Family Suite.  All rooms have air conditioning, coffee maker, LCD TV, free Wi-Fi, laptop safe with internal plug, creams-baths set.  There is also free access to the SPA center.  I’ve stayed in 3 separate rooms, each one slightly different than the last.


My first room at the Grand Hotel SavoiaMy first room at the Grand Hotel Savoia

The "Gym" Suite...this looks so fabulous!



The hotel has a small gym.  It has the basic treadmill, bike and elliptical along with some weights.  I found it to be sufficient for a good workout.  In fact, I used the gym quite a few times during my stay.


The Grand Hotel Savoia has a spa which looks pretty nice but I cannot attest to the quality of services.  The wellness center has a sauna, Hammam, aromatic showers, massages and swimming pool.

Terrazza (Terrace)

The terrace (located on the seventh floor) offers a panoramic view of Genoa and an overlook of the Genoa Gulf.  You can relax in the jacuzzi or just sip a glass of your favorite drink while taking in the sights.  I absolutely loved it!

 For Kids

The hotel has a kiddie area called “The Garden of Pirates.”


The restaurant is called Novecento and it is absolutely divine!  Breakfast is superb and dinner is really good too.  Genoa is known for its pesto so you will find a good variety of pesto dishes offered.

Overall, I have to say that I really enjoyed the Grand Hotel Savoia and would definitely stay there again.  You cannot beat the comfort, location or price.  I absolutely loved the uniqueness of each room, the customer service from the hotel staff and amenities.  Consider pre-booking via their website (I found they offered the best deals directly).  Breakfast (and sometimes Delta Skymiles) is/are included in the rate.  If you ever visit Genoa, I highly recommend this hotel. 

Nikki’s Rating: 4 (Fabulous)

Rating Scale 1-5 (1 = GET OUT NOW; 2 = Seriously?; 3 = Eh, it’ll do; 4 = Fabulous; 5 = Absolutely Wonderful)