⚡ Explore the world — in August 2017 I explored the Parco delle Mura in Genoa. This is part 1 — Fort Sperone.

The front gate to Fort Sperone... shut, unfortunatelyExploring Genoa — Parco delle Mura (Park of the City Walls) (#1) | Travel blog by Rob Crews

This is the first part of my post on exploring the forts above Genoa, in northwest Italy. Here’s the second part.

The hills north of Genoa are covered by forts — part of the city’s old fortifications (which also included 20km of walls, the most of any city in Italy). I’d spotted them from down in the city and damn, they looked cool. I had to check them out.

My hostel, Castle Hostel (which is awesome, by the way) is in a great spot for heading to Parco Urbano delle Mura, the protected area that contains most of the forts. 5 minutes from the hostel is San Nicola station, one of the stations on the Zecca-Righi funicular railway line — a cool little cable railway that takes you up the steep hill. The alternative, walking up around 170 metres didn’t really appeal — I knew that I’d be doing a lot of walking once I got up there.

A Google Maps screenshot showing the walking route from San Nola to Righi, showing the gain in height

The walking route from San Nola to Righi, showing the gain in height

Once I got to Righi, I quickly realised that my planning had been a little slack — I really had no idea where I was going. Luckily, this wasn’t a problem as there were signs for a couple of the forts. I headed in the direction that they pointed.

Pretty quickly I came to an observatory… looked cool, but pretty much nothing in English. I’m sure that if your Italian is better than mine it’s probably worth a quick visit.

After the observatory, I stuck to the road – kinda steep but nothing too bad. I tried exploring a couple of paths off the road, but one led to a dead end and the other to a big metal gate that screamed “don’t hang around here”… I headed back to the road.

Although the road itself wasn’t super exciting, it seemed like the best way to get to the start of the trail that leads directly to the forts.

One bonus from being on the road — I got to see a (super rare in the UK) red squirrel. I spotted a flash of red up above and wasn’t sure if I was seeing things, then saw a sign which said that the area is a conservation zone for the little red guys.

After a couple more (unsuccessful) off-piste adventures, I came to a spot where people were parking up and looking ready to hike / bike. Id heard that the trails to the forts were pretty decent mountain bike routes, so this was promising. I also got my first look back over Genoa:

The view from the start of the fort trail, with the outskirts of Genoa on the right-hand side

The view from the start of the fort trail, with the outskirts of Genoa on the right-hand side

 

Pretty awesome, but I knew there was better to come.

A little further on the trees cleared and I spotted the first fort — Fort Sperone. The road veered away, so I took a path that seemed to point to the fort. In theory, sound logic; in practice, potentially a fail —  it was a fun trail, but in the end it just looped back to the road.

I then followed the road for a couple of minutes, finding another path that seemed to snake up towards the fort. There was a barrier across the road, preventing vehicles from heading that way… but I figured that it was fine to go that way if you were on foot.

The road did take me to the fort (woo), but unfortunately the fort wasn’t open for exploration (boo). A big metal fence blocked the entrance. I’d heard this might be the case — I guess the local government isn’t prepared to pay for upkeep sufficient to make the forts safe to enter — but it still kinda sucked.

The front gate to Fort Sperone... shut, unfortunately

The front gate to Fort Sperone… shut, unfortunately

As there was nobody else around (I hadn’t passed anyone since taking the route up towards the fort), I figured it was safe to try and find a route to sneak in. And I was in luck — a few metres from the gate, the outer wall dipped down low enough to allow me to hop over.

Hopping over took me inside the outer wall, but not inside the fort itself. I took a look around, looking for a route further in. I quickly found another big metal gate blocking entry to the the main area of the fort and in front of the gate… a big old turd.

Initially I found this turd funny, like any other out-of-place poo. But then I started wondering how it got there… A few scenarios flashed through my mind:

  • a dog walker leading their dog there, getting annoyed that it was shut and letting their dog take a ‘protest poo’ (plausible)
  • a wild dog loose within the walls (agh!)
  • a feral Genovese guy loose within the walls (AGH!)

Fear overcame me. Perhaps the mystery pooper was close by, watching my every move. I swiftly made my escape, not looking back until I was half way down the hill.

 

That’s just the start! Click here to continue with the second part.


Also published on Medium.

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