Welcome to Savona, at the center of the Riviera of the Palms in western Liguria, one of Europe’s most important cruise hubs.
This lively port city weaves history, art, and culture into its fabric, captivating its visitors with vibrant colors, diverse landscapes, and exquisite culinary experiences.
Whether you are a history buff, an avid foodie, an art connoisseur or a sun-hunting beachgoer, Savona has many enticing offerings eager to surprise you.
Finally, Savona serves as a gateway to the other jewels of the Ligurian Riviera-Genoa, San Remo, Bordighera, Portofino, and the Cinque Terre-making it a starting point for delving into the beauty of the Ligurian coast.
Let this comprehensive travel guide lead you through Savona’s ancient streets, sunny beaches, majestic towers and lively markets. Embark on a journey of discovery of this amazing seaside city.
What to see in Savona
All it takes to discover the best of Savona is a day and some good advice on what to visit.
If you are in Savona, one of the first things you absolutely must see is the Priamar Fortress.
Built in 1544, this imposing fortress has a rich and fascinating history. It was formerly used as a prison, and also housed the famous Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini.
The mighty Priamar Fortress was erected in the 16th century and has witnessed the various transformations of the region. Over the centuries it has played versatile roles, evolving from a strategic military post to a penitentiary, which also housed the famous Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini, and now a thriving historical site.
Today the fortress houses two fascinating museums. The Museo Civico d’Arte showcases an extraordinary collection of timeless masterpieces, while the Sandro Pertini Museum offers a dive into the intriguing life of one of Italy’s most respected former presidents.
Admission to the monument complex is free, so don’t hesitate to check it out!
Priamar Archaeological Museum
The Savona Archaeological Museum is a must-see for those who want to discover the history of this city.
The museum’s collection tells more than a thousand years of history, from the Bronze Age to the early Middle Ages, through artifacts found in the area.
It is a real walk through history, with Islamic and Byzantine ceramics, majolica and pottery from more recent periods.
Not to be missed is the Byzantine necropolis, visible through a glass floor.
Sandro Pertini and Renata Cuneo Museum of Art
The Sandro Pertini and Renata Cuneo Art Museum is a splendid museum collecting the works of two famous collectors.
Opened in 2013, this museum is a true gem of the city and a must-see for all who visit the area.
Divided into two separate sections, the museum offers a rich collection of artworks that will not disappoint fans.
If you are looking for a cozy place to spend some time in the city, the Old Dock is just the place for you.
Located just a five-minute walk from the Priamar Fortress, the Darsena is the beating heart of city life.
For locals it is a popular meeting place, while for tourists it is a pleasant surprise.
Part of the Dock is now disused, but the fishing boat berth and marina are still in operation.
From the docks and piers you can watch the boats and people go by, or you can attend one of the many outdoor events that are organized both during the day and in the evening. In short, the Old Dock is a must-see place if you are in town!
If you are visiting Savona, you cannot miss the Brandale Tower.
This historic building, located in a waterfront location, is one of the symbols of the city. The tower dates back to the 12th century, and today it is possible to visit the interior with prior reservation.
Next to the tower is the Palazzo degli Anziani, a 14th-century building that houses a collection of tombstones and inscriptions taken from buildings in downtown Savona that were torn down or destroyed.
Sistine Chapel of Savona
Savona’s Sistine Chapel is a true hidden gem worth discovering.
Built at the behest of Pope Sixtus IV, a native of the province of Savona, the chapel was initially intended to house the family tomb.
Over the years, the chapel has been embellished by various artists and is now a true work of art.
The chapel is located next to the 17th-century Cathedral of the Assumption, and to visit it it is necessary to participate in guided tours led by volunteers. A unique opportunity to discover a piece of Italian history and art!
Savona Art Gallery
If you are looking for an interesting museum to visit in Savona, the Pinacoteca Civica is a must-see.
Located inside Palazzo Gavotti, a 16th-century building in the city’s historic center, the museum houses several collections of medieval, Renaissance, modern and contemporary paintings.
The most unique section is probably the collection of icons depicting the “Great Mother of Three Hands,” that is, a Madonna with three hands instead of two as she holds the baby Jesus.
According to legend, the third hand was added by the theologian John Damascene. Damascene was executed by Emperor Leo III by cutting off a hand for his tenacious defense of sacred images, but he prayed to Our Lady to bring it back.
And so it came to pass: the third hand on the icons was Damascene’s sign of thanksgiving. The icons displayed in Savona were collected and donated to the city by Renzo Mantero, an enlightened person who dedicated his life to hands-both for work (hand surgeon) and passion (collector and art scholar).
Museum of Ceramics
This important city museum is dedicated to ceramic art and houses works from public and private collections. The Museum of Ceramics in Savona is a must-see for art and history lovers.
All About Apple Museum
The All About Apple Museum in Savona is a must-see for computer enthusiasts and others. The collection of more than 9,000 exhibits, including non-apple personal computers, is a veritable treasure trove that tells the story of computing from its earliest days to the present.
Not just a simple exhibit, the museum also provides visitors with numerous PCs and peripherals to experience the different devices firsthand. A unique experience that cannot be missed on your visit to Savona!
Rite of 6 p.m.
The 6 p.m. ritual is a time of recollection and tribute to the victims of war.
Every day, 365 days a year, at precisely 6 p.m., 10 Goffredo Mameli Square comes to a complete stop. Cars, bicycles, pedestrians and public transportation come to a halt at the first toll of the War Memorial Bell and remain stationary for 21 tolls (as many as the letters of the alphabet, symbolically encompassing all the names of the victims).
I wonder if really all Savona people stand in silence as a tribute to the war victims or is it now just a habit. To be seen, however, it is a special and touching ritual.
Leon Pancaldo Tower
Leon Pancaldo Tower is one of two medieval towers located in Savona.
Built in 1392, it is equipped with a clock and the exterior facade features an 18th-century fresco depicting the coat of arms of the Republic of Genoa.
Although less famous than the Campanassa, the Leon Pancaldo Tower is an important historical testimony to the city.
Villa Cambiaso is a splendid, perfectly preserved aristocratic mansion that is easily accessible from the center of Savona.
Its halls are steeped in history: in its chapel, Pope Pius VII used to celebrate mass; on the main floor, a gala lunch for Mussolini was set up.
Also very beautiful are the Italian gardens and the fountain at the main entrance, attributed to Bernini.
The villa is open during exhibitions and events or by reservation for groups.
Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy
If you are looking for a nice break from the city during your trip to Savona, you might consider visiting the Our Lady of Mercy Shrine.
Located in San Bernardo, this 17th-century shrine is a perfect place for a short excursion.
The Mannerist-style church is one of the sanctuary’s many attractions, along with the religious art museum and garden. If you have time, it is definitely worth visiting this historical and religious place!
Beaches of Savona
If you are looking for a quiet beach where you can spend a few hours relaxing, Savona’s beaches are perfect for you.
They follow each other for about 4 km and offer a good alternation of free and equipped areas. The sea is clean and in many stretches it drops rapidly within a short distance of the shore, so best to be careful.
and you want some privacy, you could opt for one of the 8 bathing establishments; if you prefer the free beach, however, you will find two in the sea extension that stretches about 1 km from the Priamar Fortress to the east bank of the Letimbro River.
Other interesting beaches include Fornaci Beach, Natarella Beach, and Zinola Beach. They are all within a distance of 1 to 4 km from the train station and can be reached on foot or by city buses.
Where to sleep in Savona
Savona is not one of the most famous tourist resorts in Italy, but it still offers a good choice of accommodations.
Many hotels and room rentals are designed for those who have to take a cruise or ferry and want the peace of mind of arriving the day before departure.
A short distance from the center you can find modern and comfortable international chain hotels.
There is no shortage of beachfront hotels for those who want to combine cultural sightseeing and seaside relaxation. Hotel and b&b prices in Savona are, on average, lower than in the most popular tourist destinations in Liguria.
How to get to Savona
Savona is a beautiful city located on the coast of western Liguria.
It is easily accessible by car, train or plane. The nearest airport is Genoa, but there are also direct trains from many Italian cities.
The train station is about 800 meters from Mameli Square, the heart of the city.
There are many hotels and restaurants in the area, so you won’t have to worry about not having a place to stay or eat.
Savona is a perfect city for a vacation with family or friends.
What to see in the Province of Savona
ACCOMMODATIONS IN SAVONA
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