If you’re looking for a special place to take a special get-away, away from crowds of tourists and with few Americans, a lovely coast, mountains and the most enchanting city center, then Genoa is for you.

With a culture that is at once Italian and deeply unique, Liguria’s capital, Genoa, is a fantastic city of museums to rival Florence and Rome, Churches with breathtaking frescoes, a “rabbit warren” of narrow, winding streets in the ancient city center, and a food scene that will make you giggle after every bite.

The city sits on mountainsides where buildings and streets drop right to the ancient natural harbor like an amphitheater. Steep steps take you from one street level to another throughout the city, where when you look to an alleyway over your shoulder you see a building rising up and realize that it is built up the mountain. A system of funiculars takes workers and to and from homes between the city center and mountain neighborhoods, but with ancient stairs on either side to allow residents and visitors alike the opportunity to walk and exercise.

More than 275 churches make Genoa both a tourist dream as well as offering Masses at all hours every day for those who wish to incorporate pilgrimage to their vacation. Ancient shops form the renaissance era still exist in the old city next to new and exciting spice and food shops like La Medina, and shops where travelers can pick up a skirt when the weather changes for $15 or a scarf for $5 for a cool night.

Casa Rame, a new B&B, run by friends Elena and Fanny, offer two private rooms with private baths as well as a private apartment and two private balconies. Breakfast is fresh each morning and different so the variety, as well as the relaxed environment gives you vigor for the day. Located in the ancient city center within steps for the Via Garibaldi and its palace museums as well as the shops an churches of the center, you could not ask for better accommodations if you were charged twice the price. The value, personal service and atmosphere are truly inviting and gracious.

For the outdoor enthusiasts, take the opportunity to walk from the top of the funicular to the fortresses on the ridge above the city on one day. Then another day take the train for the short ride down the coast to Camogli and then walk the steps up the mountain through the village of San Rocco (follow the red circle trail) to the top of the mountain and then down the hand laid ancient stone path to the abbey of San Fruttuoso and the hidden cove with deep blue waters. Take in a light meal with excellent wine and then take the ferry back to Camogli. The hike takes three hours and is strenuous. But if oldsters like us can do it, then it shouldn’t be too difficult for those who take their time and look for a just reward for the fruits of their labor.

Visit Genoa. You’ll be delighted and like us, will likely start planning your return trip before you leave.