The gates of the City

The city were placed along the perimeter of the New Walls.
At various points, the original watershed was crossed by “roads” from the suburbs towards the town through the gates in the 16th-century walls. With the construction of the new walls, it became impossible to keep all those paths; hence, the ones which lied closer to one another were “unified” into single main paths. Access gates were thus located where each path met the walls. Each gate had been conceived without a drawbridge: only some were built in specific cases at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Starting from the Low Fronts, the first access was through the monumental gate Porta Pila, located at the intersection with Via XX Settembre, on the present bus lane along the axis of Via Fiume. According to many sources, the gate – meant for the fortifications of Porto Maurizio – was transported to Genoa by order of the Fathers of the Municipality between 1647 and 1649. In 1891, during the demolition of the Low Fronts, the Municipality decided to also demolish the gate, which was instead spared and moved in 1899 to the Bastione Montesano, in a site which no longer exists, after the expansion of the Brignole railway station.
Around 1940, it was again dismantled and located in its present site, at the end of World War II. On the sides, it features many commemorative plaques.

After the Porta Pila was the smaller gate Porta Romana, located at the entrance of the Via San Vincenzo. Its name derives from the Roman road which passed from the Vico Dritto Ponticello (now Piazza Dante) and Via San Vincenzo, through the gate, towards the Borgo Incrociati (now Via Torti) and Corso Gastaldi. The gate was demolished in 1891.

Going upstream, the Porta San Bartolomeo is now hidden from view by the Genoa-Casella Railroad. It was the only gate with a drawbridge with spherical counterweights. The gate owes its name to the church (in today’s Corso Armellini) to which it led. According to an ancient Genoese custom, during the Pentecost, after the mass at the church of St. Bartholomew of the Armenians, the populace passed the gate and walked to the ramparts (the area of the Genova-Casella railroad station) for a picnic on the grass, where they ate the traditional wild salad omelette. Towards the end of the 19th century, the custom of the “mangià in sci terrapin” went downhill.

Up next is the gate of San Bernardino, which owes its name to the nearby church. Until 1896, it was closed between 9 pm and 4.30 am. In October 1942, it was struck by bombings; up until then, it had kept – albeit blocked – its drawbridge with its closing system (the same as that of the Sperone). In the 19th century, Via delle Baracche, whose current access dates back to the 1930s, originally started from this gate.

Porta delle Chiappe or di San Simone follows. According to a popular tradition, St. Brigida passed here in 1346, prophesying that one day Genoa would be reduced to a heap of ruins and the pilgrims passing over the mountain and pointing towards the valley would say “There lied Genoa”. Until 1898, the gate was closed at night. According to several sources, its name comes from the chapel devoted to the Saints Simone and Taddeo “protectors of the Genoese people”, located in ancient times at the top of the Salita San Simone.

On the side of the Val Polcevera, the Porta Sperone is located within the Fort of the same name: originally a sortie, it became a gate primarily for military purposes with the creation of the Diamante.

In Via ai Piani di Fregoso is the gate Porta Granarolo, surmounted by a marble coat of arms. It originally had a drawbridge. The ancient road between Begato and the present Via Adua passed through this gate. At the beginning of the 20th century, the old access was replaced by the present carriage road; the Gate has thus been abandoned and the ancient road covered in brambles and shrubs.

The gate Porta degli Angeli, which follows that of Granarolo, owes its name to the nearby Carmelite church, which was demolished in 1810.

From Sampierdarena, the first gate was the Porta della Lanterna, built between 1633 and 1643. In 1827, a new twin-tube gate with the royal coat of arms was built a hundred yards back. Because of its single access, the old gate was in fact rather cumbersome and a hindrance to traffic. Hence, in 1877, it was finally decided to demolish it. A petition demanding its preservation collected more than ten thousand signatures; nevertheless, it was demolished in the autumn of the same year, almost unnoticed. Of the old monument, only the statue of the Madonna and the caption POSUERUNT ME CUSTODEM (obviously kept in separate places) remain. The 19th-century Porta had a better fate: following the demolition of the San Benigno hill, in 1930 it was disassembled and placed under the Tower of the Lanterna.