The large lake of Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini - Credit Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini Pegli Genoa
The large lake of Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini - Credit Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini Pegli Genoa
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So, what could Pegli actually be famous for? It's not the train station, but perhaps it should be, as the Victorian overpass and the railway lines bordered with small palm trees are a sight of romantic splendor that seems like it could come straight out of a scene from a Harry Potter novel. In terms of historical significance, the Villa Durrazzo Pallavicini (see below) is probably the most famous landmark, with its Italian landscape and botanical gardens truly a masterpiece.

The station of Pegli

In the off-season, the seaside town remains quiet, with most beach establishments closed for the season, but in the mornings, the alleys from the station buzz with activity as walkers pick up fresh groceries from trattorias and small shops lining the streets and avenues bordered with orange trees.

Trattoria on Via Ignazio Pallavicini

Youthful Crowd, Budget-Friendly Living, and Laid-Back Small-Town Atmosphere

In the midst of the boulevard stands the 3-star Hotel Mediterranee, still proud, reminiscent of bygone days. Yet, I found no sign of decay, perhaps a bit dated, but the hotel and the center are exceptionally well-maintained, and most buildings have been renovated or are in some state of renovation. Pegli, once a well to do neighborhood did face some challenges when some of the shipyards outside the city closed and employment fell to its lowest point.

Hotel Mediterranee in the middle of Lungomare on the beach of Pegli

Fortunately, Pegli is experiencing a resurgence, drawing in a younger crowd seeking affordable living options and a relaxed, small-town feel, that's hard to come by in central Genoa. Interestingly, despite its location wedged between Sestri Ponente's airport and Pra's industrial docks, Pegli manages to maintain its charm. The town's bay stretches well inland, ensuring the scenic beauty remains unspoiled. With no less than four public parks spanning a total of 242,000 square meters, Pegli is undeniably lush and green.

The Museo Navale in the historical hunting lodge of the Doria family

Moreover, while t's a mystery why hardly any planes land on the runway across the bay; it remains, nonetheless, an odd misplaced stretch of greenery nestled between Molo and Sestri Ponente. For those familiar with Genoa from previous reads, you'll recall the city stretches 27 kilometers and is serviced by a metro railway with seven stations from Nervi in the south up to Pegli. Thus, a mere 20-minute journey from Genoa's central Piazza Principe station can transport you to Pegli. The heart of Pegli's activity is centered around a triangle formed by the train station, the Parrocchia S. M. Immacolata church, and the Villa Pallavicini, with the vibrant life of the town extending just beyond this area.

Parrocchia S. M. Immacolata

It's somewhat amusing when you think about it; Pegli has all the makings of a resort town, yet it doesn't quite fit the bill. Its history stretches far back, but it only started gaining notable attention in the 16th century. Despite a decent population primarily comprised of fishermen and farmers, Pegli wasn't considered especially significant, either as a commercial hub or a haven for the wealthy elite. It featured a modest harbor that catered to fishing vessels, but was incapable of accommodating larger ships.

The Chinese tours of Villa Pallavicini - Credit Durazzo Villa Pallavicini

Parks and Villas of Pegli

In the 1550s, several affluent merchant and noble families from Genoa embarked on constructing grand estates. Among them, the Lomellini family erected notable structures such as Villa Lomellini Rosa, Villa Lomellini-Banfi, Lomellini Palace (present-day Hotel Mediterranee), and Villa Lomellini Rostan in Multedo. Having secured rights over the island of Tabarca near Tunisia, the Lomellinis relocated close to three hundred Pegli families to support coral fishing operations. These families were later resettled in Sardinia, in Carloforte, where a variant of the Pegliese dialect is still in use. Interestingly, my neighbour is directly descended from these pioneering families.

Villa Pallavicini - Credit Durazzo Villa Pallavicini

You may find it surprising to discover the sheer number of splendid villas dotting the hillsides between Villa Doria (park) and the Molo (harbor) in Pegli. This town saw significant growth in the early 20th century, evolving into a favored summer getaway for the Genoese upper class. Indeed, Pegli has been a chosen retreat for some of Genoa's most celebrated personalities, including the internationally acclaimed architect Renzo Piano (the San Giorgio bridge which replaced the Morandi brisge after the disaster in 2018) and the renowned Italian folksinger Fabrizio De Andrè.

Via Sabotino near Villa Durazzo Pallavicini in Pegli

Hiking Trails in Villa Doria

Hiking in Villa Doria

The aristocratic Doria family (of the Villa Doria Centurione, now the Naval Museum of Pegli) used the area behind the town as a hunting ground. Today, this is a vast park named Villa Doria, with hiking trails for all levels. I took an easy hike in the Villa Doria, which crossed a small waterfall and went up the hill, offering beautiful views over meadows and trees, and further out over the breathtaking blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Villa Doria hiking trail

Trails in Pegli

Villa Durazzo Pallavicini

Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini walking path

Villa Durazzo Pallavicini in Pegli, Genoa, is a place where nature and architecture merge. Inspired by the philosophies of landscape architects Jorn de Précy and the Brazilian Roberto Burle Marx, this garden embodies the harmony between humans and nature. Created between 1840 and 1846 by Ignazio Alessandro Pallavicini (05/04/1800 - 16/09/1870) and designed by Michele Canzio, it represents a romantic English garden full of symbolism and beauty.

Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini walking path: Credit Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini

The garden is like a play in three acts of initiation, along neoclassical and neo-Gothic structures, caves, and water features, designed to lead the visitor on a path of spiritual and aesthetic discovery. The route, which begins at the gate with Molossian dogs and passes by the Coffee House and the Triumphal Arch, invites reflection on the relationship between humans and nature. The garden is inaccessible to real dogs, and given the climbing and the paving of the paths, appropriate shoes are necessary.

Stained Glass Castle: Credit Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini

Each scene in the garden, from the Mediterranean oasis to the historic camellia forest, tells part of the story about the struggle and beauty of life, with nature always playing the lead role. Villa Durazzo Pallavicini is meant to explore the dialogue with nature and enjoy the soothing effect of its beauty, a true oasis of peace and inspiration in Genoa.

Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini, Via Ignazio Pallavicini, 13, 16155 Genova-Pegli GE - Website: - Opening hours: see the website, no pets allowed and the park is not easily accessible for wheelchairs. Normal rate: €13.00 per person on weekends, during the week €11.00 per person.

What to eat in Pegli and a bit in Pra'?

Pegli and Pra' lean against one another, and together they offer a culinary journey reflecting the rich diversity of the Ligurian cuisine, characterized by simplicity, freshness, and the use of high-quality local ingredients. In Pegli, travelers can indulge in dishes showcasing the best of the Mediterranean diet, including freshly caught seafood, pesto made from locally grown basil, fresh focaccia, and farinata. Heading west towards Pra, you find yourself in the heart of Genoa's agricultural district, known for its production of the prized Pra' basil, the key ingredient in authentic Genoese pesto. The district's culinary offerings bear witness to the region's agricultural heritage, with menus featuring vegetable dishes and artisanal cheeses.

La boutique del parmigiano Via Ignazio Pallavicini

Both Pegli and Pra invite food lovers to explore traditional trattorias and markets, and there are plenty of them, especially along Via Ignazio Pallavicini, many with a historical touch, such as the beautiful Da-o maxelâ Trattoria and across from the road the modern trattoria-butcher shop. It all looks delicious, and it's hard to resist the temptation.

Da-o maxelâ, Via Ignazio Pallavicini, 6, 16155 Genova GE

The connection between land, sea, and table is celebrated with each dish in this area, and eating is really very important, just like the golden aperitif hour where locals gather at Bolla, probably one of my favorite bars in Genoa, for, you guessed it, Bolloncini (sparkling wine). I personally couldn't resist a glass of Berlucchi Franciacorta '61 for just €7 - per glass. Cheers!

Bar Bolla - Via Martiri della Libertà, 3CR, 16156 Genova GE - Opening hours: 06.00 - 14.00 and from 15.30 - 22.30

Basil from Pra'

Pra' begins to the west of Pegli

Let's dive into the topic of basil, especially since we're so close to Prà. That essential herb in your pesto pasta might seem ordinary, but its origins are quite fascinating. The basil from Prà, exclusive to this area, carries a unique peppery scent that's so distinctive it was granted PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status in 2005, a testament to its quality and uniqueness. Stefano Bruzzone and Alessandro Ferrari are the proprietors behind Pesto di Pra', a company steeped in history since the 19th century, dedicated to cultivating this exquisite basil in greenhouses with picturesque sea views. For them, it's all about celebrating the unparalleled taste of their cherished basil.

Pesto from Pra

Pesto di Prà by Stefano Bruzzone and Alessandro Ferrari

Pesto di Prà by Stefano Bruzzone and Alessandro Ferrari - Salita Rolando Ascherio, 3A, 16157 Genova GE - Tel. +39 010 698 0069 - Website:

Azienda Agricola Francesco Ratto - Basilico di Prà

Azienda Agricola Francesco Ratto - Basilico di Prà - Via Pra', 67, 16157 Genova GE - Tel. +39 010 6130142 - - Opening hours: Monday - Saturday from 8:00 to 18:00

Staying in Pegli

Hotel Mediterranee

Formerly owned by the significant trading family Lomellini, it was once directly connected to the Pallavincini villa through a pergola-covered walkway. The hotel offers free covered parking. The rooms are spacious, albeit a bit dated. Some rooms have a sea view. The Mediterranee Hotel's restaurant features a bar and serves Ligurian specialties and classic Italian dishes for lunch and dinner. There is a public (free) beach directly opposite the hotel.

Hotel Mediterranee - Lungomare di Pegli, 69, 16155 Genova GE - Tel. +39 010 697 3850 - Prices & Reservations

Hotel Castello Miramare

Lungomare di Pegli with Castello Miramare at the end

Castello Chiozza (Miramare) is a small neo-Gothic villa on the beach with a tower, built around 1880 on the ruins of the fort of the Lomellini family, which formerly guarded the small harbor. There was no shortage of criticism at the time for the demolition of the medieval fort. Now, there's a hotel that overlooks the beach of Genova Pegli. The large sun terrace is actually the highlight of this hotel.

Hotel Castello Miramare - Via Pegli, 2, 16156 Genova GE - Tel. +39 010 696 9690 - Prices & Reservations

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Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini
Via Ignazio Pallavicini 13

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