Staglieno, as Genoese people refer to it, is a monumental cemetery meaning that is a burial ground complex decorated with tombstones consisting of chapels and monuments mainly created during the 19th century.
It is not only the largest burial place in Liguria, but it is also one of the largest and most important monumental cemeteries in Europe.
It can be fully considered an open-air museum and in our opinion it is an unmissable destination for those who want to visit an unusual place in Genoa and an attraction not present on the most classic tourist itineraries.
Just think that in the past many famous people such as Nietzsche, Maupassant and Hemingway came by to admire its beauties. The latter even called it “one of the wonders of the world.”
Staglieno is an open-air museum
Staglieno is an open-air museum with paths to be explored which allow visitors to admire the charm of imposing sculptures and tree-lined avenues.
The Cemetery was officially opened in 1851 and the works to build it took over 16 years.
At its entrance we have large portals that welcome visitors, as well as obviously the imposing Pantheon, combining neoclassical architecture with naturalistic style.
By the entrance we have the very famous angel of the Oneto tomb from the 19th century.
It is perhaps the most photographed statue here and it has become the symbol of the cemetery.
It is possible to visit the place with a local guide as organized tours are periodically offered by the city council.
Otherwise, it is possible to download an app to access an interactive guide which even uses augmented reality, dynamic maps and other features to make the experience more engaging.
By downloading the application on your mobile phone you can indeed use the guide (available in Italian and English) to navigate your way around this true maze and discover useful information and locate the tombstones and artworks of your interest.
Statue and tombstone of a young boy who died tragically
Among the most beautiful sculptures and monuments in the cemetery are the ones below.
This is not a full list of course, not even of the masterpieces, as the cemetery is rich in beauty and art and the list could be endless.
Among the ones I had the pleasure to visit are:
- The sculpture of Lady Piatti which is dedicated to the sculptor's second wife who died following a long illness.
It is a young woman, on her knees, holding her hands in an act of religious resignation and, leaning against her, is a dog symbol of loyalty.
- The peanuts seller is among the most famous statues of the Staglieno Cemetery.
The old lady here represented, when she was still alive, used a large part of the money earned by selling donuts and peanuts at popular festivals to have her own funeral monument built.
The woman had herself portrayed holding her goods which she proudly displayed as the men and women of the Genoese upper class used to do for their own graves.
The peanuts seller
There are also several tombstones of famous Genoese people such as that of Fabrizio De Andrè, the well-known Genoese singer and songwriter I have spoken about in one of my blogs.
Nestled on top of a hill behind Genoa, the cemetery offers a wonderful view of marble spiers, majestic monuments and lush greenery but it is also easy to reach it by bus from the city center.
De Andrè tombstone