One among the not-to-be-missed events in eastern Liguria is undoubtedly the Camogli Fish Festival, now in its 66th edition. The festival has a long tradition: conceived by Filippo De Gregori, the first edition was indeed held in 1952. Since then, the event has become one of the most anticipated events of the region and it is held every year on the second Sunday of May. This year, the highlight of the event is on May Sunday the 14th when a huge stainless steel pan with a diameter of 4 mt and a handle of 6 mt will be used for frying fish for 30,000 dishes during the Festival, using 3 tons of fresh fish and 3,000 liters of oil.
This enormous frying pan is arranged on a specific platform in Piazza Colombo (Columbus’ Square) near the little marina of the town. The night before the beginning of the Festival, a religious celebration in honour of Saint Fortunato, patron saint of fishermen, takes place: during the celebration 8 volunteers carry a box with the statue of San Fortunato that weighs 400 kilos. After this ceremony, visitors can enjoy fireworks and the enlightening of the bell tower. Around 11 p.m. is set fire to the several bonfires. According to tradition, the latter are prepared by the two competing neighborhoods of the Pinetto and the Porto with wooden pieces taken from old boats, pieces of furniture and other objects now fallen into disuse.
However, in order to discover the Genoese gastronomic culture fully, it is highly recommended, if not mandatory, enjoy a tour of the numerous, often hard-to-find, trattorias of the city. There, you can have excellent meals without breaking the bank. You can indeed have lunch or dinner spending between 15 and 30 euros (let’s remember that Genoese people are traditionally prudent in this respect and places where to eat must therefore remain loyal to this cliché). More specifically, trattorias are always the best way to enjoy the Genoa’s ars mangiandi. But be careful since many of them accept no reservation and there are even some which have no sign outside!
The ideal starting point for these culinary explorations is Marina Porto Antico, in the heart of Genoa, a great facility where you can also enjoy the pleasure of sleeping on your boat before going and discovering the city. In short, the pleasure of having your own floating hotel directly in the heart of the destination you want to find out.
Just ten minutes away from docks, Vico Caprettari , one among the most popular carruggi of the historical centre, waits for you with its Antica Barberia Giacalone, a historic but still active barber’s shop decorated with coloured glasses, mirrors and Art Nouveau details which still preserves the same appearance it had when it was inaugurated in 1882. It certainly deserves a visit even though you have nothing to do with the local figaro. Just 30 mt away, at number 10 R of the same street, there’s Trattoria della Raibetta, a real reference for the citizens of Genoa and a guarantee for tourists. In a 18th-century building, decorated with country-style furniture, and under picturesque brickwork vaults you can taste the delicious typical dishes of Genoa. Fish fry never disappoints and advice on the dish of the day are always satisfying. The menu also includes over 200 different types of wine.
Built on an old salt-trading site, Sà Pesta is another trattoria offering the best of the tradition, particularly famous for its farinata and vegetable pies. Opening times, too, are a little old-fashioned. The restaurant is indeed closed on Sunday, open for lunch on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and open for dinner only from Thursday to Saturday.
The menu is typically Genoese with the inevitable trofie with pesto, stuffed anchovies and zemino with chickpeas.
If you are feel like a braver explorer, Mangiabuono is the right trattoria for you. Here’s a hint: it is in 3R Vico Vegetti, just two steps away from Piazza San Bernardo, but be careful since it has no sign and, of course, reservation is not possible. In this case, too, cuisine is traditional and high-quality. The trattoria is quite small and equipped with some tables outside in summer. Style is perfect loyal to the Ligurian spirit, with handwritten menu.
Another historic restaurant, popular and very appreciated still today, located just two steps away from the berths of Porto Antico, is Antica Friggitoria Carega, situated in Via Sottoripa since 1942, with a beautiful balcony, a white-tile wall and just few tables. The menu is irresistible: varieties of fried fish, battered codfish, cuculli and frisceu,
pizzas and farinate, fish stew. The citizens of Genoa have always loved this trattoria, as witnesses the picture on the wall with the Italian singer-songwriter Fabrizio De Andrè standing with his son, Cristiano, just in front of the counter. The bill will you astonish you: just 10 euros for a surprising meal.
Finally, the Trattoria dell’Acciughetta proposes traditional dishes cooked in a classic in Genoese style but with a modern twist. Menu changes every day since dishes are always prepared with fresh ingredients, bought at the local markets. The inevitable anchovies are served fried, marinated and in a thousand different ways. First courses go from ravioli to whole trofie served according to a particular recipe invented by the trattoria itself. Unlike the other destinations, atmosphere is a little more…. modern. Past and presence have found an excellent balance and the young management makes the stay very pleasant.