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This is a historic, narrow gauge train ride from Piazza Manin to any of the many stops along the line to Casella, a very quant town in the Ligurian hills with amazing views of Genoa, the valleys, small towns, fortifications and castles along the way. The website www.ferroviagenovacasella.it gives you more information about the train in Italian, but the best information comes from a free brochure, which is available at the AMT Genoa offices or at the Piazza Manin train station.
The railroad has been in continuous operation since 1929 providing transportation for locals to 17 stops along the way to Casella. When you board the conductor will ask you where you would like to get off, as the train will only make the requested stops along the way to Casella, which is the last stop and a great place for lunch, to rent bikes (2-minute walk from Casella station), following hiking trails or just stroll the small town. The train ride lasts about 1 hour (one way) and departs about every two hours from Casella; keep a copy of the schedule handy. See the schedule for departures from Piazza Manin and keep in mind it is different for weekdays, weekends and holidays.
Hiking Parco delle Mura and Genoa’s Fortresses
By Mary Thieme
The Parco delle Mura is a protected nature area and named after the New Walls built in the 1600’s. Almost invisible to those living in the city, these walls encircle Genoa and are unique; representing the longest protective walls in the world, after China’s Great Wall. First time visitors might consider obtaining an excellent brochure from the Tourist office called “Genoa’s Fortresses and Parco delle Mura” which has a map, many different hikes, general information about the park and lots of pictures.
The easiest way to enjoy hiking along the walls, in the park and to the fortresses is to take the Zecca-Righi cable railway using a bus ticket from Piazza della Zecca to the last stop (15 minutes). Exit turn left and proceed up hill, keeping to your right walking over the moat/bridge of the Castellaccio Fortress, build in the 14th century. Pass by the famous tavern Ostaia du Richello (great coffee and bathrooms) and under the Specola Tower.
Follow the road until you see the next fortress: Sperone high on the hill above. To your left is an “exercise course” which is very popular early morning and straight ahead is your choice of three different adventures.
Alternatively, you can use the Casella train. From Piazza Manin take the Casella train to the Campi stop. You must tell the conductor that you want to get off at this stop there (also a reduced fare when you purchase your ticket) because the train only stops when requested.
From Campi, you follow the road uphill for about 5 minutes to a restaurant that seems always closed, then follow the signs to Diamante Forti (fortress) which is a fairly strenuous uphill climb for about 25-45 minutes, but you end up at the top of the world! It’s really thrilling to see the views all the way to Corsica! Or you can just start out on the path by the always closed restaurant-look for markers that will take you by Forte Puin, Forte Begato and Sperone, all the way to Righi (about 2-3 hours).
Again, you can stop at the famous tavern Ostaia du Richetto for a bathroom break, coffee or lunch then walk down to Righi and take the funicular back (buy a ticket and validate it!) to the city center. Because the Casella train doesn’t run very often, it might be difficult, but not impossible to meet the train again, to return to Piazza Manin. The hills above Genova are amazing for hiking; you can be at sea-level by the port and then in the mountains above Genova in just 1/2 hr using the funicular at Zecco-Righi.
Passegiata Anita Garibaldi In Nervi
One of Genoa’s most popular tourism attractions is located in Nervi, 7 km from the city center: the Passegiata Anita Garibaldi. This 2 km long promenade offers dramatic sea views, unusual rock formations and coves, a few beaches, public swimming pools and beach clubs during the summer time. There are several restaurants, bars and cafes. A local kayaking school is located in the beginning of the promenade. The local residents use the large rocks for fishing and sun bathing. The rocks can be accessed via ladders and steps, but these are not necessarily safe and great care should be taken if going off the promenade.
The promenade starts from a small harbour (porticciolo) and leads to the Park of Nervi. It is a nice way of reaching the museums too (Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Wolfosiana and Museo Giannettino Luxoro). The promenade is open all year round and tends to become very crowded on Sundays if the weather is good.
The promenade is named after Anita Garibaldi (1821-1849), the wife of the Italian nationalist revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi. Fishermen, who wanted to get to the best fishing spots, and farmers, who needed access from the sea to their land, started to use the rough pathways around 1823. The promenade was constructed in two parts, finishing in 1872.
Directions: take bus #15 or #17 from Brignole for the 25 minute long journey to Nervi. Get off at Ponte di Nervi. When getting out of the bus, turn right and then turn immediately left to Via Felice Gazzolo. Walk to the bottom of the street and you will see the start of the promenade on your left hand side.
By Mary Thieme
The Staglieno cemetery is considered an open air museum in view of the number and the artistic quality of the monuments. Among the celebrities buried here are: the Italian XIX century patriot and politician Giuseppe Mazzini, the pop singer and author Fabrizio de Andre', and Oscar Wilde's spouse Constance. The official website www.cimiterodistaglieno.it has further information and a photo gallery.
The front entrance is nearly always closed and that is why you need to go towards the flower sellers and use the side” incoming” entrance. As you pass through the gates there is a nondescript small office immediately on your right. Stop in there and ask for the three brochures they have in English with detailed maps, itineraries to follow depending on your interests; Art Nouveau, Romanticism, Realism or Classicism or just to see the most famous sculptures. They also offer information about the history of Staglieno, it’s most famous sculptures and a decent map, however see the large map just beyond the entrance.
The best part is just to wander where your interests lead you, but don’t miss the oldest section; it’s on you left as you enter the first mammoth arcade. Excellent guides are available for hire onsite. An audio tour is in the works, but not currently functional. Expect to spend 2-3 hours, bring water during the hot summer months. The bathrooms at the side entrance are atrocious, use the ones under the stairs just below the pantheon.
By Mary Thieme
The trip departs from Porto Antico; there are two companies which offer pretty much the same experience but on different days. Shortly after departure, they provide information about the possible marine life that might be viewed; it’s offered in several different languages. The marine biologist onboard will also give information in three different languages as different marine life is viewed.
The boat usually travels to Pelagos Sanctuary where you have the best opportunity to see whales. Whale Watch Genova does offer you a second trip out (no refund) if you don't see any marine animals during the entire trip. On board they offer drinks and snacks for purchase and have a decent toilet when used early on in the trip! Best done on a beautiful day and when the seas are quiet so that it’s easier to spot the whales and dolphins. Suntan lotion, glasses, binoculars, hat are recommended.