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During our recent cruise trip, the city of Savona was one of my biggest revelations. Charming medieval streets, alluring Art Nouveau palaces, a historical fortress with awesome views, and of course, an impressive Museo della Ceramica. We´ve spent only one day in Savona and I absolutely loved it! I still can´t believe it was never on my radar! What about you?!

Visiting Savona

A cruise stop

My blog subscribers already know that this September we´ve done our first big international trip with two babies. It was an 11-day Mediterranean Cruise, which included some of the most popular European islands, like Corsica, Sardinia, the Balearic Islands, and Elba Island.

But, seriously, what a Mediterranean cruise without an Italian city?! In our case, there were even two of them: Naples and Savona. Well, in fact, there was also Portoferraio (Elba Island) but that’s a whole another story we´ll talk about in a couple of weeks…

Not a first time in Liguria

Let´s forget islands for now and move to the Italian coastal cities. Who hasn’t heard of Genova, San Remo, Cinque Terre or Portofino?! The Ligurian coast has been an epic seaside destination for centuries. And even though you really need to make it a separate trip to fully enjoy the gems of the Italian Riviera, a cruise stop in Savona is a good place to start.

Also read: Expat Story – Italy Through American Eyes

To start with, my personal experience with this region has been quite controversial. I visited Liguria during the European Easter Holidays and have sworn not to travel back ever (yes! it was that bad! lol). The only positive impression in my Ligurian memory box was, probably, the city of Cervo. The rest was all about traffic jams, crowds, lack of parking spots, delays… Long story short: the most chaotic and exhausting vacation I´ve ever had.

Surprised by Savona

However, this September Savona cropped up in our travel plans as a random cruise stop. We honestly had no expectations for this one day in Savona, but ended up quite surprised!

Savona is a small city where all the major historical sites are within a walkable distance. That´s a huge advantage if you want to have a more relaxed experience and yet fully explore a new place.

Also read: Lake Como, Lake Garda or Lake Maggiore?

By the way, If you’re doing a cruise stop as well, most likely you’ll be offered a day trip to Genova or to one of the smaller villages nearby, like Noli. Genova is a great city to visit, especially if you’ve never been, but it´s already about big city life and intense sightseeing (you can’t see it all in one day). Noli is a pretty village, but there are more gems in the area (like Cervo) to lay your eyes on – it should really be a separate road trip then.

One day in Savona felt like a great time frame. Besides, the city was not packed with tourists and you could get “an authentic taste” of Italian food, art, and architecture. What else could we all possibly wish for?!

So, what can you see and do during your one day in Savona?

One day in Savona: Must-see places

Towers: La Torretta & Torre del Brandale

One of the first things you notice while heading to the city center from the port area is Savona´s symbol – La Torretta (also called Torre Leon Pancaldo or Torre della Quarda). This medieval tower has a small statue of Savona´s saint patron Nostra Signora della Misericordia.

Another tower nearby, Torre del Brandale, is officially considered one of the most important city buildings. Also known as  Campanassa (because of the large bell called which is rung to signal the most important events in the city) it was built around mid-1100.

Priamar Fortress

Want to get the best city views?! – Priamar Fortress is the place. Built in 1542, it also hosts the Archeological Museum, the Sandro Pertini and Renata Cuneo Museum.

Ceramic pottery of Museo della Ceramica in Savona, Italy
Museo della Ceramica in Savona


However, if we are to talk about museums there’s one place you can’t miss in Savona – Museo della Ceramica. It is located together with the Pinacoteca Civica inside Palazzo Gavotti. For a fan of the Spanish ceramics like me, this was the favorite stop of the day.

If you are interested in art and feel like visiting museums, there are two important museums in the area: the Museo della Ceramica and the Pinacoteca Civica, both hosted in the historic Palazzo Gavotti. The Museo della Ceramica is one of the most important museums of ceramic art in Europe. Their collection and expositions are quite impressive. Plus these also reflect the region´s history.

I couldn´t resist and ended up buying a book about Ligurian Ceramic. Although it was only available in Italian, so it´s more of a coffee-table book in my case. If I am to choose one place I loved the most in Savona – that´s definitely going to be Museo della Ceramica.

Beautiful artwork at Museo della Ceramica in Savona, Italy
Museo della Ceramica in Savona

Another museum we did not visit, but you could – All About Apple Museum. Since 2002 it houses almost all the personal computers and accessories made by Apple since the brand´s creation.

Architecture & Palaces

While wandering around the city center, you can spot countless interesting buildings and palaces. To name a few – Palazzo delle Piane, Palazzo delle Palle, Palazzo degli Anziani… But it´s hard to recall every single place as you simply walk around, then raise your head for a second and notice some unique arched painted ceilings. Just keep your eyes open, cause that´s Italy!

Streets and buildings of Savona, Italy
Streets of Savona

Churches & Cathedrals

If you enjoy visiting cathedrals, Savona also has something to offer here: Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta and  Cappella Sistina. As the Valencian city of Jativa, Savona is the birthplace of two Popes, Sisto IV and Giulio II. Cappella Sistina was built by Sisto IV as a mausoleum for his parents in their hometown.

Well, to be honest, Capella Sistina didn´t live it up to my expectations. Especially, cause they make women cover their shoulders (it was like +37C outside!) and don´t let you take pictures (even without flash). And by the way, they don´t warn you about this while selling tickets. What must be inside if they are so strict?- You´d ask.

Luckily I had a scarf to cover, but there were other tourists around, who just couldn´t get in after buying tickets. Once you get inside there is a Mausoleum and some rococo style frescoes. I really couldn´t find here anything worth the hype. Especially cause there are so many impressive churches and cathedrals in Europe. Some of them, like Church of Saint Nicolas in Valencia, the Cathedral of Burgos or The Cologne Cathedral are true architectural gems. And by the way, no one got obsessed with the dress code, at least in my experience!


Savona is famous for its 2 local dishesfarinata Bianca and panissa, and the rest is the good classy Italian cuisine. By the way, a place that has caught my attention on the way back to the port was a sort of a street food stand – Alalunga Pescatori Savona. They were selling fried calamari straight from the boat.

My inner foodie couldn’t miss a chance to shop for the local spices and pasta in one of the souvenir shops near the port area. Still using them at home.

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