I wonder if any else in the known universe will care about Genova film locations as much as I do.
Does anyone else know the film exists? Does star, Colin Firth, even remember? It was sandwiched between his performances in Mamma Mia (2008) and an Award-nominated role in A Single Man (2009) so I wouldn’t blame him for glossing over his involvement in this rather obscure forgotten film.
Genova (2008), also known as A Summer in Genoa, follows Colin Firth’s Joe and his two daughters as they begin their new life in Genoa, Italy after his wife is tragically killed in a car crash. Joe takes up a Professor role at the University of Genoa and his daughters have a whole summer before school to become acquainted with the new city.
Genova makes fantastic use of the city as a film set. Watching the film, I can tell the whole movie was shot on location in the city of Genoa and there are tonnes of recognisable filming locations used.
As a fan of visiting film locations, I think the film becomes extra special when you know the filming locations in Genoa are very authentic. The title of the film is named after the city (Genoa is the English form of Genova), after all, so it would be a real let down if the film locations were elsewhere.
Here are all the main Genova film locations which take place in the port city of Genoa in Italy.
All of the Genova Film Locations in Genoa
1. Genoa Harbour
The film’s title sequence is backdropped by a (shaky) birds-eye view over Genoa’s harbour. The port is one of the three biggest ports in Europe (fighting with Marseille and Barcelona) and is definitely the busiest in Italy. These opening shots really help place the film as you can understand right away that Genoa is a very built-up city with lots of little streets, and of course a heck of a lot of boats.
2. Strada Nuova/Via Garibaldi, 16124
The family of three meet up with Joe’s colleague at the University of Genoa, Barbara played by Catherine Keener, who takes them on a tour of Genoa. She starts with the city’s main attraction, the UNESCO World Heritage site, Via Garibaldi. Or, as it was known in its heyday, Strada Nuova (new street).
Genoa hosted many members of the European aristocracy back in the 1600s, so many Palaces (or Palazzi) were built to host them and were owned by Genoa’s richest families. 42 of the 163 original palaces were selected to be a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the most famous palaces can be found on Via Garibaldi.
3. Genoa Old Town
Barbara then takes the family to Old Town and their new apartment. Unfortunately, there isn’t really an outline of where ‘old town’ is, but it’s pretty much south of Via Garibaldi until you reach the harbour, and it’s featured in the film a lot. It’s characterised by a maze of quaint side streets.
Although, Genova does make Old Town seem like some kind of dingy underbelly of Genoa. Most of it is actually very nice, it’s just because the tall, narrow streets cut out a lot of light.
4. Via Canneto Il Lungo, 16123
I didn’t spot this location myself, but I have it under good authority from a Genovese local that the door to the family’s apartment is on this street. I’m surprised because the street is not far from San Lorenzo Cathedral.
I’m doubtful that the interior of the apartment matches the exterior, but it doesn’t look like it was filmed in a studio so you never know!
5. Via XX Settembre, 16121
Ah, the main shopping street. Genoa’s Oxford Street, if you will. Except the street is 1000% quieter and much more pleasant experience. The family are seen briefly walking down this beautifully grand street picking up homeware supplies for their new apartment.
This is the street they walk down to school at the end of the film. You can even spot H&M in the film both times!
6. Moneglia beach, 16030
After the family get settled in, they head all the way down to Moneglia to top up their tans on the beach. Though Moneglia is a bit of a trek from Genoa, the film does recognise this by featuring the next Genova/A Summer in Genoa film location…
7. Genova Piazza Principe Train Station, 16134
Yup, the family (and the eldest daughter’s new friends) are seen exiting a train station after their trip to Moneglia. Because, if you wanted to visit Moneglia from Genoa, a train would be the best choice of transportation. I’m not 100% sure this is one of the Genova film locations used but since it’s the main train station in Genoa, it’s a good bet.
8. Basilica Della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato, Piazza Della Nunziata, 4, 16124
Not just a great Genova filming location, but one of my favourite places to visit in Genoa full stop. It’s an awe-inspiring and delicately decorated church just off the Via Garibaldi. Before Joe and Barbara attend a fancy-pants function with fancy-pants people, Barbara takes the family to visit this Baroque 1800s Cathedral.
9. Palazzo Rosso, Via Garibaldi, 18, 16124
This was another Genova filming location that I didn’t spot myself. The family and Catherine Keener’s character head to a party, and while it was quite clear a famous Genovese Palazzo was used as the location, I wasn’t sure which.
I’ve been told by a local that the Palace was, in fact, Palazzo Rosso. I actually did go inside Palazzo Rosso during my visit, but with so many people crowded in the film, I didn’t recognise it!
10. The University of Genoa, Via Balbi, 5, 16126
When scouting Genova film locations, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the real University of Genoa had been used for the lecture scenes. As soon as I entered the indoor courtyard, I recognised the yellow walls and lion-carved staircases.
And after searching online, the room where Colin Firth’s character Joe gives lectures and seminars is also a real room in the University of Genoa! It’s authenticity like this that moves a film up in my estimation.
11. San Fruttuoso Beach/Abbazia di San Fruttuoso, 16032
The second beach seen in Genova/A Summer in Genoa is San Fruttuoso beach. There’s no beach in the city of Genoa itself, so this one is a little trip down the coast but not as far as Moneglia. It’s an extremely small, rocky beach and bizarrely I actually visited the tiny place of San Fruttuoso without meaning to.
Just like in the film, I hopped on a boat to San Fruttuoso except I was on my way to Portofino!
There is also an Abbey just behind the beach where Barbara and Joe’s youngest daughter Mary go to light a candle in remembrance of her mother.
12. Chiesa di San Pietro in Banchi, Via Degli Orefici, 7, 16123
In most films, visiting two churches would probably be the maximum amount of churches your characters can visit before it’s overkill. But no, in a list of just 11 filming locations, three of them are churches.
This final church is where Mary ends up when her sister Kelly abandons her after a piano class to go hang with boys. Just as the film notes, the church was built to give thanks for the end of the Plague.
It’s actually quite a nice church in Piazza Banchi, one of the best piazzas in Genoa. However, it’s opening times are erratic and it’s pot luck if you visit when it’s open.
13. SS 1 Via Aurelia/Via Antonio Gramsci
And for the final entry on my list of Genova film locations, how can I forget the raised motorway that frames Genoa’s harbour and continues along the Italian coastline. At the very end of the film, young Mary thinks she sees her dead mother across a busy road and attempts to cross said busy road. She ultimately causes a car crash but, fortunately, this time no one is hurt.
It’s quite an unusual sight, such a busy main road suspended through a city, but there you go. It makes for a dramatic background for a lacklustre finale.
And those are all the A Summer in Genoa/Genova film locations in Genoa that I spotted! I’m sure there are a few more, let me know if you know any more. Have you ever seen Colin Firth’s Genova? Let me know in the comments below!