Genoa: A Vertical City, Wedged Between Mountains and Sea

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An itinerary to discover vertical Genoa with elevators, cable cars and excursions. Crisp and clear September days are the ideal time to enjoy breathtaking views of the city, walks through nature and autumn’s spectacular colors on a hike to the historical fortifications surrounding the city.

Quando mi sarò deciso d’andarci in paradiso ci andrò con l’ascensore di Castelletto…

Genoa, capital of the Region of Liguria, stretches out along a thin strip of coast 34 km long, from west to east. Nestled between sea and hills, the city center reflects this geography as the buildings pile up one on top of the other, separated only by narrow alleys (caruggi) and steep little roads (creuze) that climb up the hills.

One peculiarity of the city is without a doubt the number of elevators and cable cars that link the city center quickly to the hills, allowing for breathtaking panoramic views of the city.

The most famous is the Liberty style elevator that goes from Piazza Portello to Spianata Castelletto, the wonderful balcony hanging over the historical center. From there, admire the old slate roofs of the houses, medieval towers and Baroque cupolas, as well as the port, the biggest in Italy, and one of the principal ports of the Mediterranean, and the Porto Antico, the city’s waterfront redesigned by Renzo Piano.

This splendid view from Castelletto inspired the poet Giorgio Caproni who defined the elevator as “the way to Paradise.”

From Castelletto re-descend on foot by following one of the characteristic red brick paths, or creuza, that leads to the center and Via Garibaldi, the Strada Nuova from the XVI century, also called the Via Aurea, with its marvelous palaces, UNESCO World Heritage sites. Don’t miss a visit to the Museums of Strada Nuova, a unique network of museums that brings together in one visit Palazzo Bianco, Palazzo Rosso and Palazzo Tursi, masterpieces of Genoese architecture. Here you can admire extraordinary collections of Italian and Flemish art with works by Rubens, Van Dyck, Veronese, Caravaggio, Guido Reni and main artists of the Genovese school. At Palazzo Rosso, there is an elevator to a terrace above, called the Miradore, where you can enjoy a 360-degree view of the historical center.    

The Righi cable car that goes from Largo Zecca to the Righi hill is the longest of Genoa’s cable cars (about 1.5 km) and it climbs 278 meters. Stop along the way, for example at Madonnetta, where the beautiful Historical Crèche scene may be viewed all year long, with a reconstruction of scenes from medieval Genoa, or go to the top where there is a unique view of the city including the Gulf of Genoa and on dry, windy days, you can see the rocks of the extreme western point of Liguria, the mountainous outline of Corsica, the Alps and even Tuscany. For those who enjoy mountain sports, walk or go by mountain bike to see the panoramic itinerary of the Genoa fortifications from the XVII century that makes up the City Park of the Walls.

Few people know that the walls that surround the city still today on the hills around the city represent the longest wall in Europe and the second longest in the world, after the Great Wall of China.

Don’t miss on October 4, the guided tour through nature to discover the City Park of the Walls and Fortresses, accompanied by an expert. This beautiful walk is in demand with tourists, as it is easy enough for all, and allows tourists to explore the city’s hinterlands, 19th century fortifications and ancient walls.

To discover vertical Genoa don’t miss a visit to Castello d’Albertis, which may be reached with the Montegalletto elevator, the only elevator in the world that has a combined horizontal traction system for the cabin that then rises vertically in the final part.

Built between 1886 and 1892 in Neo-Gothic style, Castello d’Albertis is surrounded by gardens that face onto the port and the city and was the residence of the sea captain D’Albertis.

In 1932 it was transformed into a Museum of World Cultures. Inside there is a collection of curious and unusual objects, booty from the Captain’s many voyages made by sea and by land between the 19th and the 20th centuries.

Speaking of elevators, don’t forget the Bigo, at the Porto Antico. This panoramic elevator designed by Renzo Piano reminds one of the old cranes that moved goods in the port, and allows for rising up 40 meters to enjoy a unique vantage point over the city and the Porto Antico area.

Genoa, a city of a thousand answers and ….a thousand itineraries to discover.

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