With its dizzying mix of old and new, of sophistication and squalor, Genoa (Genova) is as multilayered as the hills it clings to. It was and is a port city: an important maritime center for the Roman Empire, boyhood home of Christopher Columbus (whose restored house stands near a section of medieval wall), and one of the largest, wealthiest cities of Renaissance Europe. Capture glimpses of Genoa's former glory days in Genoa's portside Old Town, where treasure-filled palaces and fine marble churches stand next to laundry-draped tenements. Life within the old medieval walls doesn't seem to have changed since the days when Genovese ships set sail to launch raids on the Venetians, crusaders embarked for the Holy Land, and Garibaldi shipped out to invade Sicily in the 19th-century struggle to unify Italy. Modern Genoa, which stretches for miles along the coast and climbs hills, is a city of international business, peaceful parks, and breezy belvederes from which visitors can enjoy fine views of this colorful metropolis and the sea which defines its identity. Genoa was voted European City of culture in 2004.