Villa Serra in Comago
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Via Carlo Levi, 2 - 16010 Sant'Olcese (GE)
Telefono: 010 71 55 77 - 010 89 83 509 - 010 89 83 510
Fax: 010 71 71 396
Il parco e la villa Il parco e la villa

The architectural complex of Villa Serra di Comago, built on the left side of the river Secca, is in the immediate Genoese hinterland, along Val Polcevera.

The complex, cleverly facing the park, is made up of the 18th century Villa Pinelli and its property to which, in 1850, the Marquis Orso Serra added the Tudor-style cottage. The ground floor has elegant wooden panelling and a rich ceiling with panelling made of oak from Slavonia, a region in eastern Croatia. The three pitched roofs stand out with their openwork windows and bow windows.

Beside the building is the merloned tower which flanks the old manor farms and sheds.
The English style park, made in the mid-19th century, extends over nine hectares on the sloping valley floor of Rio Comago. Winding trails, visible roads and viewing points accompany visitors among woods and large meadows to discover lakes, streams, waterfalls and precious species of exotic trees.

A little bit of history

At the beginning of the 19th century, the Marquises Serra purchased some property from the Pinelli family which Marquis Orso, after travelling to London in 1851, decided to transform by building a villa in Tudor style, a Medieval tower and an English-style park.
Project development was given to Carlo Cusani.

The matrix of the whole complex is Palazzo Pinelli, built in the 17th-18th centuries with a U-shaped layout: the east wing was demolished and replaced by the Tudor Cottage made by Cusani using the project taken from the Encyclopedia of cottage, farm and villa architecture by John Claudius Loudon, published in London in 1846.
The Casa dei Manenti (Manenti House), made with an L-shaped body, was partly demolished to guarantee the Medieval tower, built with a rectangular body and a round crenellated tower on top.

Carlo Cusani’s idea was to transform the existing complex into a sort of small Medieval village, amalgamating all the walls of the complex with a picturesque painted neo-Gothic decoration that coats the external surfaces.
He also designed the romantic English-style park, with lakes and waterfalls that create a truly suggestive and picturesque landscape.

After the death of Marquis Orso, in 1882 the park passed to his heirs and in 1938 to the Curia of Genoa. The complex started being used for strange purposes and neglected: natural decline added itself to the damage caused by the last war.

In 1982 the whole complex was purchased by the Municipalities of Genoa, Sant'Olcese and Serra Riccò which established the Consorzio Villa Serra (Villa Serra Consortium) to manage it.
In 1992, during the Columbus celebrations to commemorate five hundred years from the discovery of America, the park was re-opened to the public after restoration that returned it to its original lines, while the antique splendour of the villa was restored in 2001.

The intervention

Following the restorations that began in 1992 for a specific purpose, the park is in a good state of preservation both regarding the botanical-landscape aspects and the architecture that has been almost completely renovated.
Careful management of preservation and development has implemented over time the enjoyment value of the asset, making it more attractive to the public.

With the Development of the natural and cultural resources of Liguria project (Level 4 of the ROP ERDF 2007-2013), the intention is to create a “receptionbuilding to replace a wooden prefabricated building that is insufficient in capacity and has totally inappropriate aesthetic qualities; the new building will host the ticket office with all welcoming functions, including those connected with visits for the disabled and multimedia visits for the blind.

A stretch of service trail that connects the main park trail with the new reception area, and an exit-only turnstile to manage the flow of visitors are also programmed. For this purpose a new column will be built to widen the entry gate.

The play area for children has recently been reorganised in respect of safety regulations.
In the centre of the site are the ruins of an antique rural building, suitably delimited and use of which is forbidden, which collapsed about fifteen years ago because of its state of total abandon.

The project includes building reconstruction, with the insertion of a third building (in total respect of the typology) beside the two original ones. It will be a continuation of the original two but on two different levels because of the terracing of the hill slope.
The third building will have the same proportions as the other two, but will be positioned parallel to the morphological evolution. The wall of the terracing on which the building rests will also be rebuilt.

Nearby

Sant’Olcese is a small town in Val Polcevera, in the Genoese hinterland, positioned between Rio Secca and the watershed with the high valleys of the Rivers Scrivia and Bisagno.
To reach Sant’Olcese you can take the Casella train that leaves from the centre of Genoa: the landscape presents meadows and orchards and the chalky peaks of Mount Tullo (526 metres).

The Botanical trail of Ciaè, which follows the antique trail for Orero, also begins at the station. Sloping gently, the trail crosses the Medieval bridge over Rio Pernecco and the tiny hamlet of Ciaè, an antique stopping place (with mills and taverns) for the mules that carried fruit, grain and other agricultural products along the old Salt Road.

The small village, which still shows signs of ancient settlements, is now abandoned but served as a refuge for displaced people during the war and comes to life during the country celebration in May.

Oddities

The name derives from the Norman bishop Olcese who lived in this valley and to whom tradition attributes, in addition to numerous miracles, construction of the church which now carries his name.
Documented in 1143, the church was built on the ruins of an ancient castle (at least the original bell tower dates back to before the year 1000), and holds the remains of the saint.

In spite of the fights with nearby Orero for the authentic recipe, “Sant’Olcese” for Genoese people is the quintessential salami, and is always present at the annual festival dedicated to this sausage which is traditionally served with broad beans and fresh Sardinian cheese.

Mappa
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