Genoa is a real port city, vibrant and definitely on the up. Henry James called it the 'queerest place in the world' and it certainly is different than any other city in Italy.
In many ways it is rather like London as it was badly bombed in the Second World War and hastily rebuilt. The Geneose have a reputaion among their compatriots for being frugal and despite their extraordinary wealth in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, they were never tempted to spend money changing things that didn't need mending. As a result the old town is one of the largest medieval cities in Europe.