If you’ve ever wondered what to do in Genoa, (Genova) and you’ve got at least half a day to spare Staglieno Cemetery is definitely a must see. Michele’s mum had visited it and suggested that it was a very interesting site and she was not wrong.
A quick facts and figures reveals the surface area is 330,000 m2 or about 81.5 acres, 117,600 tombs, 290 chapels inside the galleries, and over 2 million burials. Gee you’d want to know where your family are buried it’d be impossible to find them otherwise.
The cemetery’s central point is the Pantheon which is flanked on either side by long galleries, which are then linked to a series of galleries containing monumental chapels on the outer row and rows of smaller crypts in the walls of the interior rows.
Below the Pantheon the 9 metre high marble statue called Faith is a focal point for locals who light candles for the departed.
It’s interesting walking through the galleries with all the monumental chapels to famous families. Firstly the absolutely finely crafted statues and monuments are just fabulous. Also the no expense spared to create these family crypts it’s unbelievable. The cemetery was opened in 1851 and its interesting how in different sections its possible to trace the style of art created by the sculptors from traditional styles to Art Deco, Bourgeois Realism, and Art Nouveau of the 20th century.
Families would work their whole lives to save the money to create a monument to represent their lives. the statues carved in lifelike sizes and down to minute detail captivating the people involved, many unveiled before their death so they could ensure it adequately represented them.
So how big is this cemetery to walk around? Well it’s so big they have a bus service. How big are the family chapels? Well we thought a few were actually Churches but no they were just a family crypt.
One monumental artisan even had a sign displaying his family crypts amongst a row of similar looking crypts. It was like looking at spec homes.
In between the massive galleries are the simple graveyards where the poorer locals struggle to cover heir loved one with a fitting monument. Some are simple affairs boxed with thin slabs of white marble while others just mound the earth and sprinkle some crushed marble on top. The one thing in common is flowers throughout the more common areas flowers cover the graves. Outside the cemetery a few florists do a booming trade.
As part of commemoration of Remembrance Day we visited the Commonwealth War Graves section and found a few RAN, RAA and RAAF graves. We missed the sign to the cemetery on the first pass and after asking at the office took a round about route which had us struggling up the hill. Once we reached the top we found the access from the top was down a rough path and uneven steps which was pretty poor. The cemetery is broken up into three sections with burials from the UK, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Yugoslavia. Unlike some of the better known cemeteries we don’t think that this cemetery is visited very often and we were a bit disappointed with the condition of the place. On the way down we were glad we didn’t come up via the bottom as there were too many steps to count. As an ageing veteran I wonder if the CWG have thought about access for older people, with all the broken steps and poorly thought out access.
After spending 8 hours visiting this fascinating cemetery we were absolutely kaput, so it was time to head back to the hostel and put our feet up. Tomorrow we’ll have a better look at Genoa.