PORTO ANTICO (ANCIENT PORT) – PEGLI – VILLA PALLAVICINI – VAL VARENNA
On foot: 3 h (Ancient Port – Pegli) / 4,30 h (Ancient Port – Val Varenna)
Bus: 1,71 / Navebus
From the Ancient Port take the Navebus to Pegli. It is a unique, charming experience (the fare lasts 30 minutes). Genoa is seen from the sea, along the dam which marks the south border of the city and protects the wharfs from the waves. The huge port stretches for 22 km. It is the largest industrial port in Italy and one of the most important in Europe.
When you get off at Pegli, the octagonal pink dome of the Santa Maria Immacolata church will be the centre of the stage. Go along the promenade and turn right into Vico Sinope. Above you, you will see the typical green Genoese shutters ready to welcome the breeze in the so-called ‘village of two springs’ due to its climate, among the best in Liguria. Here is Viale Ignazio Pallavicini, the railway station lies on your left as well as the entry to Villa Durazzo Pallavicini. Behind you, the houses drawn with a pencil climb up the church dome like ivy. At every corner bergamot trees drop juicy fruits onto the tar which cannot and does not know how to appreciate them.
Before getting to the entry of Villa Durazzo Pallavicini, let the small bridge inside the station above the iron river draw your attention. There you can wait for beauty for long moments, among people walking past… Once you have picked it up, you will hear it whisper: «…Pretend that today is no particular date, start from scratch again».
The Villa can be reached if you walk along a road that stretches among tall buildings and accompanies thoughts as far asthe Santi Martino e Benedetto church and Palazzo Pallavicini, home to the Archaeological Museum, from which lacklustre steps go down toward the heart of the villa. Designed as a maze, its goal is to make you feel stranded. The classical avenue goes over the motorway, with a small stream of water pouring from the fountain. The closer you get to it with your ears, the stronger is the contrast with the devilish tyres. You can let your hearing rest when you walk past the triumphal arch and observe the thick vegetation from a small wooden window inside the ‘hermit house’ and the charming lake at the centre of which lies Diana’s temple. The strong, hanging branches of the CedrusLibani and the Camphor tree try grazing it without being able to do so. The approximate care of the place, the black signs of humidity on the marbles and the brambles sprouting from the hedges give the landscape a charming taste of violated, raped Eden, like a liberating shout choked in one’s throat or the pleasant bitter taste of a liquorice stick.
Once you have left the villa, keep left in Viale Pallavicini then left again in Via Opisso. Wait for the number 71 bus to get to the ancient mill in Via Varenna, the‘Molino di Pegli’ which has produced Genoa’s best chickpea farinata for ages. Get off two stops after the old stony bridge (on foot it takes about 15 minutes from Via Opisso) and you will think you’re in the countryside, surely not in an area of a city of 600.000 inhabitants…
Now take Via Granara and on your left you will be presented with the Mill and the bucolic view of Passo De Rossi. From 7am to 4pm, from Monday to Friday, the mill is working. It is not a museum, but a business in full swing. The people you will find will are not there as tour guides… they are working! If you ask politely, you may be able to take a short visit to observe the creation of a product that has been a feature of this area for many years. You can also purchase a small stock in the shop at 7, Via Granara. One thing is certain, politeness here is not a rare virtue…
[Pegli, photo by Diego Arbore]
[Villa Pallavicini, photo by Daniele Orlandi]