The Du­razzo Pallavicin­i Park, Gen­ova Pegli a ro­man­tic gar­den filled with es­o­teric sym­bol­ism

Timeless Travels Magazine - - GARDEN FOCUS - by Sil­vana Ghig­ino, Di­rec­tor of Villa Du­razzo Pallavicin­i

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

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