Genoa Vertical City
Endless ascents and descents leading from the sea to the hills, narrow caruggi, lifts, funiculars and racks.
The city of Genoa, built close to the heights, can also be visited thanks to its vertical streets.
Starting point: Piazza Portello, right next to the charming and famous Via Garibaldi. Here you will find the entrance to the Sant’Anna funicular, one of the countless funiculars that populate the city and connect the centre with the neighbourhoods built on the heights such as Castelletto. This is the oldest and was built in 1891. It was the only one with a water-driven system that took advantage of the gradient of its path to stay in operation. As you climb towards the hills, you can see Genoa behind you and enjoy a priceless view.
When you reach the top at Via Bertani, you can proceed uphill through one of the countless Creuze that criss-cross the city. Follow the pavement and you will find yourself immersed in an oasis of peace a stone’s throw from the centre: a small square dedicated to St Anne with a church dedicated to her and a tree-lined driveway leading to the neighbourhood’s historic pharmacy. The pharmacy has been in operation since the Seventeenth century and a monk receives patients and recommends cures, herbal teas and other natural remedies up to the present day. You can buy herbs, syrups, jams, creams and Sant’Anna’s cologne.
Another recommended departure is from Piazza Portello with the beautiful Castelletto lift, which will take you directly to the wonderful Montaldo belvedere. From here, you can admire the city of Genoa in all its splendour. The lift, opened in 1903, is a beautiful example of art Deco and transports one’s thoughts back in time. At the entrance, a plaque commemorates the verses of Giorgio Caproni, a poet born in Livorno but in love with Genoa: “when I have made up my mind to go to heaven, I’ll go there with the Castelletto lift”.
Here, your gaze sweeps over the entire historic centre, from the bell towers of the churches to the Rolli palaces, from the old port to the Lighthouse, from Mount Fasce to the Granarolo hill and, on clear days, the West Coast Riviera and the Maritime Alps. You will be fascinated by such beauty. This is a symbolic place for the Genoese, where people still go on hot summer evenings to “catch a cool breeze” and enjoy an ice cream. Walking down salita San Francesco, you will find yourself in the characteristic piazza della Meridiana, at the end of via Garibaldi.
Walk along Via Cairoli until you reach Largo della Zecca: cross the street and in the blink of an eye you will find yourself in front of the Zecca-Righi funicular station. The funicular runs every 15 minutes, climbing up the hills, surrounded by buildings, to take you to the final station at Righi. Once at the destination, visiting the panoramic terraces and continuing further on to the small astronomical garden is a must.
The Parco delle Mura (Walls Park) starts from this evocative place, from which numerous paths lead to the fortifications erected over the centuries to protect the city: from Fort Sperone to forts Fratello Minore, Puin, Fratello Maggiore, Diamante.
The third option is from Via Balbi, one of the oldest streets in Genoa, designed as early as 1585 and overlooked by some of the oldest and most important aristocratic palaces of Renaissance Genoa. At the top of the street, you will arrive at the entrance of the Montegalletto lift, which is the only lift in the world that travels part of the way horizontally and then vertically, a bit like in the Chocolate Factory film.
The lift will take you to a door in Corso Dogali, where there is the entrance gate to Castello D’Albertis, which houses the Museum of World Cultures. Also from here you can admire a breathtaking panorama and feel as if you are walking on air.
The fourth leg of the journey up and down Genoa will end with the rack railway of Granarolo, which you can easily reach from Principe station. Built in 1901, it is one of the oldest in Italy and its fascinating historic carriages travel not by rope, but on rails.
When you arrive at the upstream terminus, an incredible surprise awaits you: all of Genoa will be at your feet and you will enjoy a truly marvellous panorama.