The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno is located in Genoa, Liguria, and is a true open-air museum, considered one of the most important and fascinating in Europe.
Designed in 1835 by Carlo Barabino, one of Genoa’s most important architects, and, upon his death during the great cholera epidemic, by his student and collaborator Giovanni Battista Resasco, Staglieno Cemetery is a representation of 19th-century Genoa.
After various expansions carried out over time, it now encompasses an area of about 330,000 square meters and also includes an English cemetery (where the grave of Constance Lloyd, Oscar Wilde’s wife, is located), a Protestant cemetery and a Jewish cemetery.
The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno in Genoa: what to see
Ernest Hemingway described the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno as “one of the wonders of the world”.
Mark Twain, on the other hand, wrote “my last visit was to the Cemetery, and one that I will continue to remember when I have forgotten the buildings.”
What is striking about the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno is certainly the grandeur of such an architectural layout set in a natural context that is nothing short of marvelous.
It is located at the foot of a hill. and to reach some of the monuments-such as Giuseppe Mazzini’s tomb-you have to trek quite a bit.
To get an exceptional view of the spires and domes of the cemetery, I recommend crossing the Sifone Bridge over the Veilino River.
If you want to learn more, read this article in which I discuss it.
The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno features a Pantheon (or Chapel of the Suffrages), galleries and porticoes with hundreds of monuments that testify to the extraordinary art of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Liguria. and the Irregular Grove in which are the graves of the Thousand and other heroes of the Risorgimento.
Staglieno Monumental Cemetery has been a destination for famous people from all over the world such as precisely Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain. the writer Guy De Maupassant, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and even Empress Elizabeth of Austria “Sissi.”
And always here rest citizens of Genoa – not to be missed are the wonderful chapels of wealthy families – next to illustrious foreigners who stayed in the Ligurian capital such as Nino Bixio, Fabrizio De André, Constance Lloyd Wilde, Giuseppe Mazzini, Raffaele Rubattino, etc.
The advice is to take at least a couple of hours to calmly tour all the sections of the Cemetery.
Absolutely do not leave out the highest part-the part from the Pantheon up, to be clear-which is in the green and silence.
To get there you have to climb some stairs but the effort is repaid by the beauty of the chapels and the view.
Every statue inside the cemetery, tells a story! For example, I was very intrigued by the one of Caterina Campodonico, the so-called Peanut Seller.
Caterina Campodonico, born in 1804 in a working-class neighborhood, saved a small fortune by selling hazelnuts and canestrelli cooked by herself. Separated from her drunken husband and in dispute with relatives who coveted only her inheritance, Caterina, almost illiterate but with a strong and independent character, decided to devote all her savings to the creation of her statue by the famous sculptor Orengo, who in 1881 depicted her holding a crown of hazelnuts. Extremely proud of the result, Catherine went to the cemetery every day to admire her statue, even being admired by other visitors, until her death in 1882. Her funeral was attended by so many people and some, knowing her story, decided to play the numbers of the date of her death in the lottery and ended up winning! The statue is placed in the lower porch of the Cemetery and often, people who visit her, light a candle in her memory, hoping to have some luck as well.
Chatting with my friend Giulia who studied Art History, I learned that inside the Cemetery there is a miniature Milan Cathedral!
The Duomo of Milan
This is the Raggio Chapel commissioned from architect Luigi Rovelli in 1896 by Armando Raggio.
Raggio is a Genoese industrialist who had this chapel built to house the remains of his wife. Rovelli designed a Gothic-style building adorned with spires and flying buttresses, still known today as the “Duomo of Milan.”
More than 28 meters high, the “Duomo” was entirely clad in white Carrara marble by the Repetti brothers of Lavagna, who used more than 150 tons of the precious material.
The “Duomo di Milano,” from the time it was made, was counted among the grandest monuments in the Staglieno Monumental Cemetery, a true open-air museum.
You can find it on Viale Carrena, in Sector E (you go up the stairs leading to the Pantheon and then turn right).
Visiting Staglieno Monumental Cemetery can be done independently or through an interesting guided tour.
To know – In case of red weather and wind alerts, the cemetery remains closed. Find notices at www.comune.genova.it
Staglieno Monumental Cemetery in Genoa: useful information
Entrance to Staglieno Monumental Cemetery is free of charge. Opening hours are 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. every day except Dec. 25 and Easter Day, which follows the 7:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. schedule.
Closed days: January 1 and 6, Angel Monday, June 24, August 15, December 26. When these holidays coincide with Sunday, the cemetery is OPEN with hours 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Inside the Cemetery there are several NON-drinking water fountains and toilets. Immediately before the main entrance is a small cafeteria.
You can bring a stroller, although not all spots are accessible (same discourse for The Disabled). If the child is small, I recommend the baby backpack so that you can get around without problems.
Pets may enter only on the first non-holiday Wednesday or Thursday of each month, excluding November. Dogs accompanying blind people, on the other hand, are always allowed to enter.
Immediately after the main entrance, on the right, there is a tourist-cultural infopoint with hours 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and hours 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Inside the Cemetery, there is a small bus called CS (Cemetery Staglieno) that makes several stops. Contact the infopoint for schedules.
How to get to Staglieno Monumental Cemetery in Genoa
By car – The nearest highway exit is Genoa East, right near the cemetery. There are several free parking lots in the streets adjacent to the Cemetery.
By bus – Lines 13 and 14 run from Brignole and stop right in front of the entrance to the Cemetery. From Principe station, on the other hand, you have to take line 34.
Address – Staglieno Monumental Cemetery Piazzale Resasco, 16137 Genoa.
The visit can also be interesting for children who are free to roam and run around, always respecting the place and other people. When I was a child sometimes my grandfather took my sister and me to the Cemetery explaining the most important monuments we encountered along the way, and I remember our amazement at this immense “garden” with gigantic statues!
The Staglieno Monumental Cemetery may look a bit decadent because of the smog that has grayed some of the statues but, apart from that, it undoubtedly has a special charm precisely because of the natural context in which it is set and the magnificence of the statues and chapels present, so a visit in my opinion is a must.