Exploring Genoa — Parco delle Mura (Park of the City Walls) (#3) | Travel blog by Rob Crews
After saying a quick thank you to the two dog walkers who had given me directions, I headed the way that they’d pointed — a fairly steep and slippery route down from the fort. On the way down I lost my footing a ton of times (normal for me when going downhill) and was only saved by my freakish ability to regain my balance when it seems like all is lost. I got through the steepest section unscathed and took a quick look back at the fort.
After the initial steep and slippery phase, the path switched to a descent through some woods. As I was headed at a rate of knots, it was a little treacherous — lots of rocks and fallen branches to leap over. But after 10 minutes or so I broke out of the trees, unscathed and facing the back of a building. I spotted a couple of people sitting by the side of the building and headed over, hoping to ask for directions to Trensasco train station.
At this point I only had 15 minutes left until the train was scheduled to depart, so I hoped that I’d be able to get some quick directions and be on my way within a couple of minutes. Given my lack of Italian (“non parlo Italiano, parli Inglese?”), this was probably a little ambitious.
Although the couple sitting outside the building didn’t speak any English whatsoever, they were on the phone to a friend who did speak English. The phone was passed to me and I explained that I was looking for the station — I knew it was nearby, I just didn’t know which direction I needed to go. The lady on the phone explained that she didn’t know the local area at all — she was a friend from another city — but that she’d pass the message over to the lady I was with. The phone was passed back and forth a few times as I tried to explain which train line I wanted… but eventually it became clear that they simply didn’t know where the station was.
This was a little worrying — if (as I had hoped) the station was close by, surely local people would know how to get there? In desperation I got out my phone and looked at Google Maps — a last resort given previous experiences with Google Maps and Italian public transport (it seems to often be wildly inaccurate). It gave me a location for the station — around 1km along a winding road — and I set off. The phone conversation had lost me 5 minutes, so I had around 10 minutes to find the station. Cutting it fine, but not a lost cause.
I jogged the 1km, coming to the point where Google told me the station should be. And… there was no station to be seen. I headed a little further on — still nothing. The road was surrounded by trees on either side, occasionally interrupted by a house and garden… no sign of a station.
At this point, all seemed to be lost — I had 5 minutes until the train was scheduled to leave and no idea where the station was. I started considering alternative options — hiking back up to Fort Diamante and retracing my steps or hitching a ride back to Genoa (which didn’t seem too promising an option given that I hadn’t yet seen a car on the road). Damn.
Just as I was about to give up, I got lucky — I heard the sound of a train approaching. It was a little early to be my train, so perhaps it was heading in the opposite direction and could lead me to the train station. I scanned the area of the hill that the sound came from — around 20 metres away, up a steep slope. I caught a glimpse of the train through the trees as it passed — heading in the opposite direction to Genoa, as I’d hoped. So I knew where the train track was (and presumably where the station was too). All I had to do was get there.
The area between me and the train track was, as far as I could tell, the edge of someone’s garden. There was no path up there — if I wanted to get there, I’d have to just make a beeline straight up the garden. With less than 5 minutes before my train, this seemed like the only option.
Here’s the Google Street View of that spot — a small gap through the trees. When I was there the area to the right was far less overgrown and looked more like someone’s garden.
I scrambled desperately up the hill and came to a level area with, thankfully, a train track. I glanced left and spotted a small hut, which I figured must be the ‘station’. It was basic — just the hut, a timetable and a map — but it was all I needed. I figured that I’d just have to flag the train down — hopefully it wouldn’t be travelling too fast…
When the train eventually arrived (only a couple of minutes late) it was trundling along at such a slow pace that flagging it down was no problem. I hopped on, paid the conductor the fare and sat down in one of the two carriages.
The journey back to Genoa was fantastic. Winding along the bottom of the hills, it snaked along below the path that I’d taken earlier that day. It stopped at a few small (but slightly better equipped) stations before bringing me to Piazza Manin. After a 20 minute walk I was back at Castle Hostel — job done.
Also published on Medium.