Q: Why is Genoa a good place for any foreign investor looking at Italy?

A: First is quality of life. [With] every kind of investment, we have to associate it with the quality of life of the people that are supposed to buy or live over there. But there is another thing that really makes a difference now: real estate in Genoa is undervalued. Of course, from 2007 to 2017 any kind of real estate [in Italy] was undervalued, but Genoa more than other major cities, such as Milan. Real estate values in Milan probably lost around 15% between 2007 and 2017; we lost about 35%.


A lot of people left Genoa to find jobs. Also, Genoa was isolated from the rest of the world – the infrastructure was not good enough. Genoa in the 1970s had a population of 800,000 people; it’s now 600,000 people, so we have a lot of empty apartments in the city.

Q: How are you going to break through this isolation?

A: Now we are going to make investments. We have three major infrastructure investments going on in Genoa. The first will allow it to be connected with Milan via a high-speed train. The second one is the ‘Gronda’ bypass. The third one is a marine wall that will allow 22,000 TEU [container] vessels to call in Genoa. The reason we need a new wall is that the current one is very close to the docks. If we put the wall further away we will gain some manoeuvring space for those big ships.

Those three investments will allow the city to be very well connected to the world and real estate to revalue and, eventually, will produce a pretty nice return on investment for our businesses.

Q: Is Genoa’s port ever going to regain the splendour of its past?

A: In terms of business, now we are close to three million containers and we are aiming to have five million in three years. The new railway tunnel heading towards Milan will help us in managing all those containers by train. So Genoa is going to be the gate of the Alps corridor, linking the city all the way to Rotterdam, which handles up to 50% of all the goods in Western Europe. Instead of going all the way around from Gibraltar into Rotterdam, shipping lines can dock in Genoa, and use the railway to distribute their containers around Europe, which can save them up to five days of shipping time.

Q: You are also trying to reconnect the city with water. What’s the vision there?

A: Believe it or not, in the past the port has always been separate from the city. The port has often been jealous over what they are doing over there. They even put up walls to separate the city from the port – this is wrong. In 1992, for the 500th year celebration of Columbus’s discovery of the Americas, we regenerated the old port area. For the first time [in recent years] the city was connected with the water.

Now we are trying to do that not only with the port but also with the full waterfront from east to west. This is a very important project we are investing in right now. We are making sure that citizens and tourists can enjoy the sea. The sea can be the beach on the tourist side, or a dock if you are a mariner and you have also a shipyard. All these activities are good for people who want to reconnect with the water.