• 2018.12.12
  • Legends and Myths of Liguria
When I was a kid and I visited my grandma’s house, she always told me some legends, stories or anecdotes about Genoa and its surroundings. Some stories were also told at school or read on books because every corner of the Superb (Genoa’s nickname) hides some little secret.

Genoa is full of mysteries, legends and myths

Historically, in the Middle Ages, the city of Genoa was smaller than it is today and it wasn’t so spread out along the coast as it is now.
The city center was built around the port and, in the hinterland behind the hills, there were tiny villages where the peasants cultivated vines, olive trees and lemons trees and where they made a trade with poultry, dairy products, vegetables, fruits and chestnuts.
Agricultural products were then taken to the city at dawn, when the city gates opened.
Back at that time, the peasants never spent the night under the mountain in the Righi area of Genoa (which is now one of the most prestigious hilly neighborhood in town) because they feared Beatrices, fantastic nocturnal hunters of the mountains known to have the power to turn into horrendous creatures.

The archaeological museum in Genoa now hosts an interesting and somewhat disturbing collection of sandstone stems dating back to the Bronze Age. Their origin is unknown, but since they were almost all found near waterways, not far from burial sites, they are likely to depict deities related to death or a dynasty of protector demigods. The blocks of worked stone all have an anthropomorphic appearance with characteristic faces in the shape of an inverted U. The male figures usually hold daggers, while the female figures show stylized breasts. All the stems are presented with faces without a mouth, almost a bizarre magical obsession to want to avoid the escape of their souls.
It is said that, according to local folklore, the stems cry when the clouds obscure the full moon.

The Paraggi bay near Genoa is dominated by a castle with the same name, which in ancient times served as a fortress to guard the coast.
The oldest part of the building overlooking the sea is where there is a particularly evocative cave inhabited, according to the folk tradition, by a fierce monster that incessantly guards a fantastic treasure of jewels and gold coins. It seems that the treasure belonged to a French irascible pirate who shipwrecked with his ship on the cliff of the castle. Since he was injured, he took refuge in the cave where he died shortly after. The legend says that, after his death, he became a monstrous moray eel capable of devouring a man.
The discovery of ancient coins and gold chains and the sighting of a huge moray eel in the cave together with the mysterious deaths of many divers in the area fomented these legends.

One of the legends that was told to me at school, and that I heard again years later, is about an old woman who, at night, would whisper to the passersby and would ask for directions to return to her home in Vico dei Librai (Old bookkeepers street). Too bad that this street no longer exists as it was destroyed during the Second World War. Legend has it that the old woman left her neighborhood to get treated for an illness and once she returned she couldn’t find her home anymore. Since the street no longer exists, it is said she wanders near Porta Soprana (Genoa’s old town main entrance) trying in vain to find her place.

Porta Soprana old town entrance

Just behind the walls of the port and close to the Sarzano area (area of ​​the probable foundation of Genoa) there is an open space, consisting of colored houses and a floor decorated with a flying Genoese flag.
In origin the name of this area was Campo di Sarzano and it became famous for the naval battle between the Pisans (from Pisa city) and the Genoese fleet, won by the Ligurians. Legend has it that it was decided to use Campo Sarzano as a place of detention for 9,000 Pisan prisoners. At the time, the area was outside the ancient walls, so it could be a logical explanation to understand how to accommodate so many people in one place. One thing is certain: here the Pisans remained for a long time, more than ten years. Many perished of hunger and hardship and were buried in this very same place. During stormy nights, there are people who swear to have seen the shapes of the prisoners heading back to Pisa from Sarzano.

Sarzano square was the ground of a famous battle


  • Patrizia Margherita
  • Jobtranslator, interpreter, teacher

Although she was born in Italy, she is half Italian and half American and she has become a "multicultural person" who can speak five languages. She has lived and worked in the US, Brazil, Australia, France and the UK so she considers herself a citizen of the world. When she is not teaching or translating, she likes cooking Italian food, hiking and traveling around the world...She has traveled to 80 countries and counting!

View a list of Patrizia Margherita's

What's New


What's New