Savona used to be one of the chief seats of the Italian iron industry, having iron-works and foundries, shipbuilding, railway workshops, engineering shops, and a brass foundry.
One of the most celebrated former inhabitants of Savona was the navigator Christopher Columbus, who farmed land in the area while chronicling his journeys. 'Columbus's house', a cottage situated in the Savona hills, lay between vegetable crops and fruit trees. It is one of several residences in Liguria associated with Columbus.
Inhabited in ancient times by Ligures tribes, it came under Roman influence in c. 180 BC, after the Punic wars in which the city had been allied to Carthage. At the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it passed under Lombard rule in 641 AD (being destroyed in the attack) after a short period as an Ostrogoth and then Byzantine possession. Later it recovered as county seat in the Carolingian Empire. In the 10th century its bishops were counts of Savona, but later the countship passed to the marquesses of Montferrat (981) and afterwards to the marquesses Del Vasto (1084).
After a long struggle against the Saracens, Savona acquired independence in the 11th century, becoming a free municipality allied with the Emperor. Savona was the center of religious culture (13th to 16th centuries) due to the work of two important monasteries: Dominican and Franciscan. Subsequently, it fought against Genoa before being definitively conquered in 1528. The Genoese destroyed the upper town and buried the port. It then shared the fortunes of the Republic of Genoa until Napoleonic times. In 1809 the city received Pope Pius VII, prisoner of Napoleon Bonaparte, for a few years. Between April and mid-May 1800, Austrian forces besieged the city while a small British naval force maintained a blockade; the fortress surrendered on 15 May. Subsequently, Savona was annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont (1815). Eventually, it became part of unified Italy.
The Cattedrale dell'Assunta (Cathedral of the Assumption), built after Genoese demolition of the old cathedral. It kept the relics of Saint Valentine.
The Cappella Sistina (Sistine Chapel), adjacent to the Cathedral and built 1480-1483, it containing the Mausoleum erected by the Della Rovere Pope Sixtus IV to honor his parents, Leonardo Della Rovere and Luchina Monleone. The construction was commissioned by Giovanni D'Aria and his brother Michele. The chapel is architecturally similar to the chapel dedicated to the Cardinal Pietro Riario in the Basilica of the Santi Apostoli, Rome. After years of deterioration, in 1765-1767 a reconstruction was ordered by the Genovese Doge Francesco Maria Della Rovere. This updated the chapel in a Rococo style, with ceiling painted by Paolo Gerolamo Brusco. The Cathedral has a noteworthy 16th-century carved wooden choir seats.
The church of Nostra Signora di Castello (Our Lady of the Castle) has a large altarpiece by Vincenzo Foppa and Ludovico Brea painted in 1490.
The Torre Leon Pancaldo (Leon Pancaldo Tower), built in the 14th century and also known as "Torretta", is the symbol of the town.
The Torre del Brandale (Brandale Tower), also known as Campanassa (Commune tower, where the freedom declaration of Savona was signed in 1191) and towers Corsi and Riario.
The Priamar fortress, built by the Genoese in 1542 after their conquest of Savona, on the area of the old cathedral and old city and later used as a prison and military priso. In 1830-1831 Giuseppe Mazzini was imprisoned in the fortress and he "dreams" the "Giovine Italia". Inside the fortress there is the Museum Centre of Priamar.
The Palazzo Gavotti (Gavotti Palace), built in the 15th century. Inside the palace there is the Art Museum of Palazzo Gavotti that contains the Pinacoteca of Savona, the artwork of Fondazione Museo di Arte Contemporanea Milena Milani in memoria di Carlo Cardazzo and the new Ceramic Museum.
The Palazzo Delle Piane (Delle Piane Palace), an important building in Liberty style of Savona.
In neighbourhood of Savona remains a house documented as property of Domenico Colombo, father of Christopher Columbus, where they lived for many years (Christopher Columbus lived in Savona for much of his youth).
The Villa Zanelli, an important Liberty-style former residence and hospital.
The average yearly temperature is around 19 °C (66 °F) during the day and 12 °C (54 °F) at night. In the coldest months: January, February and December, the average temperature is 11 °C (52 °F) during the day and 5 °C (41 °F) at night. In the warmest month - July and August - the average temperature is 28 °C (82 °F) during the day and 20 °C (68 °F) at night. Generally, a typical summer season lasts about 4 to 6 months, from May/June to September/October. The daily temperature range is limited, with an average range of about 7 °C (13 °F) between high and low temperatures. Rain occurs mainly in autumn, the summers being generally dry. Sunshine hours total above 2,097 per year, from an average 4 hours of sunshine duration per day in winter to average 9 hours in summer. Savona usually sees snow once or twice per year.