The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno
A silent city with wonderful marble tombs and statues.
Visiting cemeteries is not usually very popular but consider that in Italy the Monumental Cemeteries are more like open air museums full of art and history, stories and anecdotes, nature and flowers.
They are testimony of historical facts and give us a great insight into the culture and lives of the residents. The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno in Genoa is one of the largest in Europe, covering nearly 80 acres, as well as one of the most striking. What makes it so fascinating are the hundreds upon hundreds of impressive marble monuments and richly adorned chapels. The sculptures range from Neoclassical, to Symbolist and Modern Style, but the most outstanding works are those in the Romantic style.
The cemetery was opened in 1851 when Genoa was a wealthy industrial town home to businessmen, shipowners, bankers, politicians and artists, their tombs give us a glimpse into that era and its changing social mores and values of homeland, duty, sacrifice, charity and combine private stories with major historical events.
The sheer beauty and realism of the statues, draped in delicate lace, the lines of grief etched on their faces, the tears that slowly roll down a cheek as well as the pitiful epitaphs told us of the love and respect for the deceased and move us to reflection and compassion. However, the symbols of their business and power, in addition to the more typical religious themes like crosses, angels, skulls reveal what was important to 19th century society, which is what would be remembered.
A fascinating and evocative walk through this open air museum will recall to memory the life and death of famous people in history, art, literature and music like the political activist Giuseppe Mazzini, some of Garibaldi's “thousand men”, the photographer Alfred Noack, Oscar Wilde’s wife Mary Constance Lloyd and the Italian songwriter Fabrizio De André. We will also find the tombs photographed on Joy Division’s record covers and the Monteverde's Angel, which has become a very popular tattoo design around the world. The hillsides with trees, bushes and foliage surrounding the graveyard give it a park like atmosphere.
Duration: approximately 2 1/2 hours.
Departure and return: I can meet you at your hotel and we can reach the cemetery by taxi or by public bus.
Important Notes: this guided tour involves uphill walking and extended periods of standing. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. For those people with mobility challenges, a satisfying portion of the cemetery can be easily seen without climbing stairs and is accessible
Conservative attire is required to enter the cemetery (no exposed knees or shoulders).
Remember to bring water and mosquito repellent or wear long sleeves; except in winter there are often mosquitoes.