Contemporary history

Guided tour: Genoa through the eyes of departing emigrants

descrizione immagine

Luogo:Genova (GE)

€€ (average)

The experience

Not the usual guided tour but an itinerary to try to retrace and imagine, step by step, the places of the city lived by your ancestors just before leaving for the journey to the Americas. With the help of your guide, you will try to step into the shoes of your ancestors as they set out into the unknown with a heart full of expectation and hope.

Genoa was one of the main Italian cities for transoceanic emigration, especially in the last decades of the nineteenth century.

During this period, the Superba served as the main port of embarkation for Italian emigrants, with an intense flow of migration especially to South America and later to the United States.

Genoa through emotions and opportunities

What were the motivations that led our ancestors to leave in their thousands? What situation were they leaving behind? While waiting for the departure, what were the places in the city frequented by emigrants? What are the conditions of the trip, the expectations and the reality of the facts?

Trying to answer these questions, you will explore the most significant points of the city, immersing yourself emotionally in the lives of many migrants who have left Italy from this city to find a better future.

What we now call “Porto Antico”, for example, was the point from which people physically embarked as early as the early 1800s, when navigation was still sailing.

At the time, the Genoese landing was not very different from the time of the great medieval trades when Genoa became queen of the Mediterranean.

It was only at the beginning of the twentieth century that the Genoese port area began to be expanded, extending it beyond the Lanterna.

The city also had to organize itself to accommodate the growing number of migrants and offer landing points to steamships that were becoming larger and larger.

The bulletins of the Autonomous Consortium of the Port of Genoa contain data on migrations to the Americas between 1906 and 1935.


Emigrants and Evolving Port Facilities

In the 1920s, the traffic of emigrants was much higher than that of passengers. In 1926 alone, out of about 5,000 passengers, there were 12,000 migrants, most of whom, almost 8,000, headed for Argentina.

In addition to Argentina, the favorite destinations of emigrants from Genoa are Brazil, with about 2000 arrivals, the United States, chosen by about 1600 people, then Central America and Australia.

Thus, in the 30s, modern structures were born to manage the traffic of arrivals and departures. One of these is the Maritime Station built specifically to receive and sort passengers arriving and departing with the brand new ocean liners.

Today, thousands of cruise passengers depart and arrive on the same quay.

We will then get lost in the scents and activities that still fervent around the port, among the alleys that welcomed and exploited emigration.

It will be an opportunity to enjoy a piece of savory pie or farinata in the ancient “sciamadde”; Tiny businesses easily recognizable by the ever-burning blaze that can be glimpsed in the oven.

All day long they still bake savory pies and typical Genoese dishes. Certainly frequented at the time also by emigrants looking for a hot, quick and cheap meal while waiting for the departure of the steamer.

We will then move on to the central Piazza de Ferrari, once the headquarters of the Società di Navigazione Italia which managed traffic to the Americas and was responsible for the sale of tickets for the crossing.

We’ll learn about the history of one of the city’s most important shipowners: Raffaele Rubattino. And then again we will delve into the conditions of the voyage by symbolically boarding the reconstruction of an old steamship whose environments have been reconstructed in the halls of the Galata Sea Museum.

The visit is led by a specialized licensed tour guide, can be customized according to family interests and time available and may include admission to a thematic museum of your choice.

Visit lenght

3 hours

Offer in


Information/To know

Location/The place


Genova, GE, Italia

Contact form

Ask for information

Need assistance or have questions? We're here to help! Fill out the form to be contacted by one of our representatives!



Sonio Liguria ETS

Schedule and timetable

On request

Check the business's official website for up-to-date information.