The Galata Museo del Mare

Near the Genoa Aquarium, down the boardwalk, past a farmer’s market and Jamaican vendors selling purses and sunglasses, I find a nautical museum, which my dad would have really loved. 

The Galata is one of the oldest buildings in the Genoa Darsena (Port of Genoa). This multi-story building houses the Museo del Mare (Museum of the Sea) with 10,000 meters of exhibit space, separated into 17 galleries arranged by time period, ranging from the Age of Oar to the Age of Steam.

The ground floor, housed in what looks like another ancient building with low spreading curved ceilings which shape the room like a Quonset hut, is themed The Age of Oar. There are banks of armor, a reliquary containing some of the ashes of Christopher Columbus, and a full-scale replica of a 17th century Venetian galleon, shown below:

Top Deck
PHOTOGRAPH BY Heather Daveno

The Age of Sail exhibit covers 2 floors and includes a nice collection of globes, a few astrolabes and other navigational instruments, although the room is very dimly lit and it is difficult to get decent photos.

The third floor is unexpectedly educational. The Age of Steam walks you through replica rooms of a ship, as a third-class passenger would have experienced them, complete with engine noise and a view of the sea through a tiny porthole window. Towards the end of this floor visitors are given a ‘passaporto’ and immigration papers, and are taken through the immigration process at Ellis Island. As an American, it was pretty eye opening to see this process from the side of an Italian immigrant. The passport is bar coded and activates a video inspection officer, which is apparently pretty amusing, judging by the reactions of the Italians in front of me. (I wish I spoke Italian…)

PHOTOGRAPH BY Heather Daveno

After signing a release and checking my bags into a locker, I put on the hair net and hard hat that the museum provided and boarded the Nazario Sauro, Italy’s largest submarine. Had I been aware of the pre-show, I would have learned how to use the periscope and hydrophone. I should have opted for the free headset, which I learned later, had additional instruction.

Shown below is the control room, and the inside of a torpedo tube.

PHOTOGRAPH BY Heather Daveno
Torpedo Tube
PHOTOGRAPH BY Heather Daveno

Boarding a submarine in Genoa was the very last thing I ever expected to do...

I did not have time to see more than half of this maritime complex. But I’m happy to add “has been on a submarine” to my list of life experiences.

The Galata Museo del Mare is open daily from 1100 to 1900 (last admission is at 1800).

Admission during July and August is 13 Euros, and a parent may bring 2 children aged 4-12 for free. Regular ticket rates are 29 Euros.

The submarine tour is an additional 6 Euros and can be purchased in tandem with the museum admission. I highly recommend the submarine tour.

Check their website at for tickets, special events and COVID-19 restrictions.

This article is a recollection of Heather’s visit to Genoa in 2011. Additional photos of the Galata Museo are available at Daveno Travels, with additional shots of the Galata Museo (including the submarine) on Pinterest. All photos are Heather Daveno’s original photography and should be credited as such.

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Heather Daveno

Heather Daveno hails from Seattle, Washington, where she works as an office manager by day and a self taught textile artisan by night. In her spare time she is a “hobby historian” and is currently researching the female side of her family history for a book she plans to write, titled: “The Matriarch Diaries.”

You can see her current textile projects at August Phoenix Mercantile and her travels at Daveno Travels.