Historic aqueduct in Val Bisagno
Comune di Genova: Palazzo Tursi, via Garibaldi, 9 - 16138 Genova (GE)
Telefono: 010 55 71 11
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Nestling between the houses and the rugged Apennine Mountains, the River Bisagno digs into the main valley of those which, from the beginning of the hinterland, mark the face of Genoa city.

In the Bisagno valley you can find the first and most ancient aqueduct of the city: the part which is currently practicable is about 18 kilometres long, stretching from Presa di Schiena d’Asino in the Municipality of Davagna to Caricamento square, in the historical centre of Genoa.

It is a non-pressurized conduit structure, built in different historical periods, rectangular in shape, where the water flowed at a slope of a few metres per kilometre.  It was built using traditional material and work methods:  masonry, round and segmental arches often of local material.

It remained in operation until the first half of the 1900s, and today runs through the old town and the whole of Val Bisagno. Even though its traces in Genoa have already been incorporated by the town, the imposing siphon bridges on the Geirato and Veilino rivers, the small ancient houses of the closing and filtering mechanism and the tunnel architecture can still be appreciated by following the route in Val Bisagno.

The historical aqueduct is still operational but only from Presa to Prato, where the water merges in the filters with the water of the new Brugneto aqueduct. With the development of the natural and cultural resources of Liguria project (Level 4 of the ROP ERDF 2007-2013) the aim is to develop the aqueduct, developing and integrating the billboards, and also to create a multi-purpose Centre with multimedia and interactive posts in order to spread and promote the aqueduct route, with educational and information spaces inside the “filter houses”.

A little bit of history

There was an aqueduct already in Roman times which presumably began at the Fullo gate in Molassana, went over the Sant'Andrea hill and reached Ripa Maris, the current Sottoripa.
Later, around the 11th century, a much higher route than the previous one was built, which could reach the Castelletto area without any differences in level.

Many traces of the medieval route still exist today. Until 1295, the most distant outlet in Valbisagno reached by the channel was Rio Poggetti in Staglieno.
Up to the first half of the 16th century, the aqueduct remained unchanged, and then urban expansion and population growth imposed its extension in subsequent phases, with channel widening and the building of new bridges.

Nevertheless the discontinuity of the supply sources and rivulets led to the creation of a new section of the aqueduct up to Cavassolo, and from there until Presa di Schiena d’Asino, just where the Bisagno becomes a river. This solution guaranteed the constant water flow needed to quench the thirst of the city.
In April 1639 the whole route was completed to its current length.

In 1900 for reasons of hygiene the whole channel route was closed with slabs of Luserna stone. The historical aqueduct was operative until 1951; today it has been replaced by modern structures that catch the water from artificial overflows but the first section, from Schiena d’Asino to the Struppa Filters, is still operational.

The intervention

The intervention is part of a well-constructed restoration and development program of the Genoese historical aqueduct for protecting a large work that symbolizes the uniqueness and greatness of Genoa. Some of the programmed interventions have already been started or finished.
Particularly important, among others, are the development and integration of billboards for tourism, education and excursion purposes: the aim is to complete the fixed information and educational signs that are placed in interesting points along the whole aqueduct route. The posters will be placed in the most popular points for tourists near the main access points to the route.

The Internet website www.genova-turismo.it will be developed to promote the historical buildings in a manner that is compatible with the Regional, Provincial and Archaeological Office portals. Thematic pages that give more information on the buildings with texts, pictures, links and attachments are programmed.
The section will include introductory pages on elements of touristic, cultural and historical interest, excursion itineraries with explanations, cartography and photographic documentation, and practical information pages. The pages will be available in Italian, English, French and German. On-line video guides that can be downloaded will also be developed.

The creation of a cultural multi-purpose centre for promoting the aqueduct route is programmed, with the preparation of educational and information spaces inside the “filter houses”, even with the installation of interactive multimedia workstations.
Architectural barriers will be eliminated wherever possible.


Casella is positioned near Davagna, in the belt of highland municipalities that surround Genoa. Like the aqueduct, in reverse, it starts from Genoa and advances towards the hinterland, in the same manner as the Casella railway, the historical line that goes from Manin square towards the hinterland village.

Started in 1921 and inaugurated in 1929, it proudly holds the oldest electric locomotive still running in Italy, a kind of Ligurian style “Orient Express”: the carriages bring back the atmosphere of times gone by with wood furnishing, blue and red liveries, bronze and brass finishes and style details, while the landscape that can be admired from its windows is one of the most striking in the whole Ligurian hinterland.

The service is still running, and is used daily by many inhabitants of the hinterland to go to the county town and dive into the Belle époque.


The first siphon bridge in Europe was built on the Geirato River in 1650, and Genoese architects called on Galileo Galilei to design it.

In the city centre it is possible to see the remains of the historical aqueduct at Porto Antico: the vaults of the Sottoripa arcades once carried water to the ships.
Given the slope of the Veilino River, architects planned a series of marble pipes which were never used, and today they decorate parks and flower boxes in the city.

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