Park of Villa Spinola in Lavagna
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Comune di Lavagna: Piazza della Libertà, 47 - 16033 Lavagna (GE)
Telefono: 0185 36 71
Fax: 0185 39 50 87
La villa e il parco La villa e il parco

Positioned in the small plain of the Entella stream, the fiumana bella (beautiful stream) of Dante’s Purgatory, Lavagna is one of the villages with the most history in all Liguria. It is tied hand in glove with the Fieschi family, counts of Lavagna, one of the most important and powerful families of the Middle Ages, which gave birth to leaders, merchants, cardinals, two Popes (Innocent IV and Adrian V) and even a saint (Catherine of Genoa).

The historical centre, which faces the sea and the long sandy beaches, has many typical lanes, while on the surrounding hills you will find, between vines and olive groves, some of the most beautiful villas in Tigullio, proof of the richness and power of Lavagna during the Middle Ages and the modern era.

One of these, just a short distance from the sea and leaning against a gentle hill, is villa Spinola. Inside Tigullio Park, a large green area that hosts the sports centre with swimming pool, is a large noble villa that remained abandoned and in decline for many years, but which has now been renovated and restored to its antique splendour.

Thanks to the Development of the natural and cultural resources of Liguria project (Level 4 of the ROP ERDF 2007-2013), the historical villa garden will be restored according to the original drawings; the front section is currently integrated with the public park, and the rear section, partly concealed by a tennis court, is partly neglected, abandoned. 
Thanks to the renovation of the historical building, already carried out by the Municipality of Lavagna, the whole complex will become a cultural pole for attracting tourists

A little bit of history

The villa was built in 1604 by the Spinola family. The original projects for the garden, instead, presumably date back to 05 May 1623.
The building was passed to the Grimaldi family, then to the Pallavicini family, and then to the ex Duke of Parma. Work on restructuring the villa to transform it into a country house began in 1820, but in the decades that followed it began to slowly decline, causing the building and its garden to be abandoned.

In 1870 Giuseppe Ravenna, a priest, mentions the villa in his book Memorie della Contea e del comune di Lavagna (Memories of the Shire and the municipality of Lavagna): in addition to tourist information, the author remembers how the garden had become an “ominous accumulation of stones and thorny bushes”.

The last owner, before the Municipality of Lavagna, was Felice Sivori, who lived there for a few years and then ceded the building and the surrounding land to the company Entella Stefano Sciaccaluga; the company began operating as a cotton mill and it completely surrounded the antique construction on all sides. The villa was abandoned, and it became the residence of the Cotton mill managers only in 1906.

During the 50s the cotton mill was closed and all the property remained unused for many years. In 1979 the industrial complex was demolished and the property acquired by the Municipality of Lavagna, which created a large public park with parking, play areas for children, and a sports centre with swimming pool, while four tennis courts were made on the northern side of Villa Spinola.

The intervention

After having completed the restoration of Villa Spinola, it was necessary to restore the connected green area, following the original drawings, which showed a scenographic garden that framed the villa and rose gently behind it towards the terracing. These spaces partly hold a covered tennis court.

The intervention consists of renovating and tidying up the gardens, and eliminating the covered tennis court which will be moved to another position. This will allow reconstruction of the antique fishpond and the rising trail with pergola, traces of which remain.

The back garden will be recreated exactly, with large lawns, marked out by myrtle hedges and the large central road, which leads to the pool stairs and the final exedra.

Nearby

The village the Fieschi family can be found directly behind Lavagna, in the Municipality of Cogorno. Positioned on a hill surrounded by greenery, it looks down onto the valley with its Medieval and 16th century houses, immersed in the silence of the vineyards.

Around the cobblestone square, the two basilicas face each other: the oldest, renovated during the Baroque period, and the “new” one which preserves its gothic structure and the traditional black and which stripes on its façades. A little to the side is the villa of the noble family.
The whole complex, started in 1245 and completed in 1252, is a true, perfectly preserved jewel, and is an extremely suggestive scene.

Going into the hinterland towards Val d’Aveto, we meet the village of Borzonasca. Full of historical testimony like the Borzone abbey, one of the oldest Benedictine monasteries in Italy (1184), and the Volto Megalitico (Megalith Face) carved into the rock, it stand out because of its natural aspects: lakes and rivers offer great opportunities to fishermen, while Lago delle Lame and Lago di Giacopiane and the surrounding green areas are excursion and tour points, just like the Parco delle Agoraie.

There are many routes that meet with the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri (a high-level trail) from the valley floor, making it possible to appreciate the wildlife and environmental richness of the hinterland.

Oddities

According to legend, in 1230 an enormous cake was donated to the citizens to celebrate the wedding of Opizzo Fieschi and Bianca de’ Bianchi. This is why the Torta dei Fieschi (Fieschi cake), is celebrated every 14 August in a historical commemoration of the wedding that includes Medieval splendour, many figures with masks and flag throwers. It has been presented every year since 1949, and always draws an immense crowd to Lavagna.

After the parade of Medieval costumes through the streets of the city, the game begins.
Each participant receives a label to attach to their chest (pink for females, blue for males): when you find the person with the same label but of the other colour, you can claim your portion of cake.

Mappa
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