One Way to do Genoa – Via Balbi last minute

During the research I carried out prior to our visit to Genoa   two particular streets continually cropped up on the historic scene. One was Via Garibaldi, which featured in the  previous ‘One way to do Genoa’ and the other was,  Via Balbi.  As luck would have it our hotel was at the western end of Via Balbi


…and when I found myself with a couple of spare hours before our flight home the race was on to investigate this second street…



Via Balbi is one of the main streets of Genoa. It connects Piazza della Nunziata with Piazza Acquaverde


Designed  by Bartolomeo Bianco  at the behest of Stefano Balbi  between 1601 and 1618 it represented an urban intervention of the same mould as Via Garibaldi: the de-centralization of  luxury residences  from the core of the old town to new areas of the city;  which at the time was less dense, quieter and marginal.

Via Balbi counts a number of prestigious buildings, and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Virtually unchanged since its creation,  any modernisation that has been undertaken has been very limited.

Possibly the most famous of those buildings is the Palazzo Reale



Now a major museum,  the Palazzo Reale  is the largest 17th century architectural complex in Genoa to have retained its original interiors: both in terms of fixed (frescoes and stuccoes) and movable (paintings, sculptures, furnishings and fittings) decoration…



…and its ornate patio garden area maintains its original features…



The second building worth a visit is The University of Genoa. Though now  organized into  several independent campuses, each located in different city areas,  the main University premises retain their original position on Via Balbi


…and again I found no restriction on entering and witnessing how Bartolomeo Bianco brilliantly overcame Genoa’s hilly topography when designing this particular building…





At the opposite end of Via Balbi to our hotel is the  Piazza della Nunziata. On the Via Balbi side of the Piazza is Genoa’s main Catholic Cathedral, Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato …

As time was not on my side I did not enter the Basilica and now regret not doing so. I am grateful to Wikimedia for the following photograph showing what a beautiful interior it has…



One reason for my haste was that on my journey along Via Baldi I had spotted this sign on my outbound morning sortie…




During the course of the previous day’s travels I had spotted Castle D’Albertis, on many occasions…



…sitting high above the city. It intrigued me: especially its position.


My little understanding of Italian led me to believe that the above signage was indicative of a lift, similar to the one that we had used the previous day, the Castelletto Levante Public Escalator. I was in for a pleasant surprise and fun experience.  Purchasing a ticket from the Auto Vendor at the entrance I proceeded along the short passageway and waited a few minutes.


Through the glass doors I could see approaching a tram like vehicle that, once stopped, the doors opened and I embarked. This was Ascensore Castello d’Albertis-Montegalletto, a very different public transport system that combines a cable car to a lift that also takes the cable  car after it’s cable journey…



Within a few minutes I was on my journey…



Watch carefully at the end of the video as the descending and ascending cars switch from track to lift. Fascinating when one considers this system was privately built  in 1929 to connect the main train station in Genoa with the district of Montegalletto, some 70 metres in altitude higher than Via Balbi.

There was also some impressive architecture up in Montegalletto, a once very wealthy district…


with equally impressive views over Genoa…


But Castle D’Albertis was the purpose of my journey and although at that early hour of the morning it had not yet opened to the public, I was nevertheless pleased I had actually made it…




It did cross my mind while waiting for the return tram car for the descent that, with now less than an hour before our taxi was due to take us to Genoa Airport, I was placing considerable faith in a 1929 piece of engineering.

But that surely is the thrill of travel.





5 responses to “One Way to do Genoa – Via Balbi last minute

  1. Hello Richard,

    What a wonderful writer you are, you should compile holiday books. Also your photography is very good, all you take makes the places in the photographs come alive.

    We have just returned from our cruise from Southampton on Emerald Princess to Venice, Malta etc. I did what you said and was up on deck on both sail-ins. Quite magical. We didn’t leave Venice until 11pm and I was also out on-deck to see the sail-away, but I was disappointed as all the churches and steeples were without lights and it was dark and not very photogenic! Nevertheless, it was romantic.

    Thanks once again for all your advice, it was adhered to.

    Next year we would like to see the Greek Islands. We will be looking for a cruise from Southampton, as I don’t like flying anymore.

    Bye for now.


    Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2014 07:24:43 +0000 To:

  2. Pingback: Ventura – A Perfect Fly-Cruise Med Break | Solent Richard's Cruise Blog·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.