Park of Villa Doria in Genova
piazza Bonavino, 7 - 16156 Genova (GE)
Il parco Il parco

In 2012 it was elected as one of the twelve most beautiful parks in Italy. To admire it, just move a few kilometres away from the centre of Genoa to the neighbourhood of Pegli.  Just a short distance from the railway station, easy to reach even by car, are the 115,000 square metres of park belonging to the villa, built in the 16th century for the extremely rich banker Adamo Centurione, the father of Andrea Doria’s daughter-in-law, lived in by prince Gian Andrea Doria and his heirs, and now of municipal property like the majority of the historical Genoese Villas. 

The villa park is attributed to Galeazzo Alessi, an architect of villas and gardens who, in particular when designing the artificial lake with central island, showed his preference for more natural situations than the geometric taste that was frequent in the Renaissance garden.                          

The lake, which is fed by brook Rio Archetti, is located in the highest section of the park, immediately down from the Villa Doria camping ground, in an area of the public park that is not very frequented.  Currently it is greatly in decline, because of many maintenance and environmental factors.

The island is oval in shape and holds a small rocky mountain with clefts and stalactites, in front of which statues of nymphs and satyrs once stood between water features.  We have photographic testimony of their presence from the 1930s. Other photos from the same period confirm the presence of a romantic small wooden bridge that connected the two sides of the lake.  

In a corner of the mirror of water there is also a tunnel, a few metres deep, that was once used for sheltering a boat.

A little bit of history

Villa Centurione Doria, the extraordinary architectural and landscape complex that was created in the 16th century and whose most illustrious owner was Gio. Andrea Doria, re-opened its doors after the restoration of the building (the work ended in 2001) and after the collections were put on display.

After hosting the Naval Museum of Genoa from the end of the 20s, in 1993 Villa Doria was used to display the most antique part of the collections, those belonging to the period from the 12th to the 16th centuries. Today, after the opening in 2004, Villa Doria has found a new identity, always in the Sea and Navigation Museum ambit.

The intervention

The long period of neglect caused the progressive deterioration of the garden and the lake, but with the Development of the natural and cultural resources of Liguria project (Level 4 of the ROP ERDF 2007-2013) it was possible to intervene and restore the antique aspect of both.

The lake has been returned to its original maximum depth of 7 metres which, because of the work that was carried out during the 70s, had to be reduced to 70 cm for safety reasons.
The water features, the suggestive perimeter routes, the characteristic small wooden bridge and the area devastated by the landslide in the flood of 1993 have all been restored, in addition to the stairway that allows entry to the park in via Vochieri.


The church of San Maria and Santi Nazario and Celso in Multedo, more commonly and simply known as the church of Monte Oliveto, was established by the Carmelites in the 16th century, even if an earlier church dedicated to Saints Nazario and Celso probably existed before the 11th century.

The new 16th century church, which was built with the support of the Lomellini family, lived through its period of greatest splendour between the 16th and the 17th centuries together with the convent. In 1812 the Carmelites abandoned the parish and the church was entrusted to the secular clergy; it underwent various restorations in the 19th century, when the façade was rebuilt (1840), and at the beginning of the 20th century.

The church, with three naves and nine altars, holds numerous works of art, among which a painting by Pier Francesco Sacchi, some paintings attributed to Bernardo Castello and two canvas by Antonio Semino.
Even today the church yard offers a wide view of the sea, while the view of Pegli is limited today by some modern buildings.


Over the centuries, Pegli saw many of its citizens emigrate to foreign Countries. The most voluminous was the emigration that left precisely from Pegli and headed towards the island of Tabarca in Tunisia in 1540, when the noble Lomellini family managed to obtain in concession from Emperor Charles V the extremely small island of Tabarca, located off the Tunisian coasts, in order to fish coral and to trade in general.

It was the people from Tabarca who, during the first half of the 19th century, colonised two islands which at that time were uninhabited, in the south of Sardinia, and on which Carloforte and Calasetta rise today.
The people of these places have deep Ligurian cultural traits and speak in a dialect that is very similar to Genoese (with the inflection found in Pegli five hundred years ago), with obvious influences from the nearby Sardinian language and a few Arabian-Tunisian terms, an evident inheritance from Tabarca.

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