The Durazzo Pallavicini Park, Genova Pegli a romantic garden filled with esoteric symbolism
The Durazzo-Pallavicini Park in Pegli, Genoa, is a large garden created in the mid-nineteenth century at the behest of the marquis Ignazio Alessandro Pallavicini, based on a design by the architect, set designer and decorator Michele Canzio. This romantic, landscaped garden, was chosen as Italy’s most beautiful park in 2017.
After decades of neglect, the Park underwent major restoration between 2010 and 2016 to bring it back to its original design concept, and it was reopened to the public in September 2016. Thanks to over thirty years of research and physical work on the design and renovation, it is now possible to explore this extraordinary park, which was originally conceived and created as an esoteric-Masonic experience. Today it provides an opportunity to take a journey of discovery aimed at the soul of those who are able to read its symbolism and educational-evolutionary will. The park was designed as a ‘place of travel’, a journey that, whatever your background, unveils different stories and symbolic meanings.
It begins with a scenic, theatrical path, conceived by Michele Canzio, which continues for about three kilometres in a sequence of acts and scenes, laid out according to the logic of a Greek tragedy and 19th-century melodrama. After passing through the Prologue or the ‘Gothic Avenue’ and the Backstory, or ‘Classic Avenue’, the visitor reaches the first act to discover the wonders of nature through the scenes of the ‘Hermitage’, the ‘Exotic Oasis’, the ‘Camellia’s Avenue,
the ‘Old Lake’, and a scene which introduces the source of all the water feeding the park. The second act then leads to a medieval fiefdom where the tragic history of humanity is staged, abandoning itself to the dangers of war, and to ultimately find death.
After visiting the scenes of the Chapel of Mary, the Swiss Hut, the Captain's Castle and the ancient cemetery, you reach the top of the hill, where you can go down to the entrance of the Underworld Grottoes, which open the third act dedicated to the catharsis of the soul. This act allows access to the Big Lake and Flora’s Gardens, representing the heavenly paradise and the earthly paradise. This is an opportunity to see rare plants and garden buildings in various and surprising styles, that today we think of as finds from the past ,but at the time represented the icon of modernity, such as the Chinese Bridge and Pagoda, the Turkish Kiosk, the Egyptian Obelisk, the Temple of Flora and its small but elegant greenhouse.
But alongside all this beauty, there is hidden a more intriguing journey: the one that the marquis and his architect, most likely affiliated to the first, hidden Masonic Genoese lodge, took in the maze of 19th-century esoteric philosophies. The journey brought visitors through a guided tour in an enchanted forest that offers beauty, hidden symbolism and beautifully articulated theatrical scenery.
From this perspective, the garden reveals sophisticated space – related architectural compositions linked to aspects of the cosmos, to the movement of the sun as the seasons pass. The esoteric symbolic reading reveals alignments to the north-south and eastwest axes relating to representations of the materiality or spirituality of Man; sacred constructions crossed by ‘axes of the world’ communicating with the movement of the sun; settings created as materialization of the magic and surreal encounter between Man and God understood as a manifestation of the cosmic Oneness.
The park became the property of the city of Genoa in 1928 when Princess Matilde Giustiniani donated it to the City of Genoa. After its restoration and reopening, the park is now entrusted by the City of Genoa to the temporary joint venture known as Associazione Temporanea d'Impresa (ATI), composed of the Friends of Villa Durazzo Pallavicini (APS), the Social Cooperative L'Arco di Giano and the Studio Ghigino & Associati architetti, which deals with maintenance, conservation, enhancement and tourism management.
ATI maintains a rich programme of guided tours, both aimed at the park’s specialist planting, such as the Camellia
Avenue, considered to be the largest and oldest in Italy, and the scenic path created by Michele Canzio. In addition, there are tours by the director of the park, Silvana Ghigino, on its philosophical and esoteric meanings, both during the day and the magic of the night.
This romantic, landscaped garden, was chosen as Italy’s most beautiful park in 2017
The Big Lake
The Captain's Castle
The Classic Avenue fountain
Stained glass from the Castle
The Chinese Bridge