One of the most beautiful aspects about Genoa is its geophraphy. The city is tiered like a topsy turvy wedding cake: castles and forts sit up high nestled in the top layers like a cake topper. pastel-colored buildings escalade down towards the sea, while the historical center, a maze full of narrow alleyways, sits on the bottom layer next to the port.
While it’s all beautiful to look at, especially from out at sea, it can also be really difficult to navigate. Staircases are sprinkled throughout the city to provide pedestrian shortcuts to the next tier. For those travelling on wheels it’s not so simple either: some roads are only wide enough for a vespa to go down, while others are always congested with bumper to bumper car traffic. A few decades ago, an overpass highway called the ‘sopraelevata’ was built just behind the port area to alleviate some of the city traffic. Its construction has definitely helped, even though its a major eye sore and practically cuts the port view of the city in half.
You would think that the city was too hilly and congested to live in, but clearly the Genoese have adapted well. One of those adaptations is the funicular railway. If you remember some scenes from the Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel with that stange hybrid between a cable car and railway, that’s a funicular.
Genoa’s funicular railway isn’t so majestic as this one but it certainly makes for an exciting ride and happens to be a very important means of public transport for those who live in the hilly suburbs of Genoa’s historical center.
There are about three funicular railways in Genoa: the Sant’Anna Funicolare, Principe-Granarolo railway (more of a cog railway than a funiculuar) and the Zecca-Righi Funicolare. Zecca-Righi is the more popular one among tourists as it brings you all the way up to Righi – an area with a stunning panoramic view of Genoa’s port and city, as well as a breath of fresh air in a natural reserve park. It’s a great place to go for an afternoon walk and there are even a couple of typical Genoese restaurants up there. It’s also the place where young Genoese teens go to make out, but I immagine you’d have to go up there pretty late at night to witness some of that. ;)
Zecca Righi was built between 1895 and 1897 after the project had been propose by two Swedish men. It has been reconstructed several times since then and undergoes regular maintenance routines to make sure everything is running smoothly and safely.
How to Use the Funicular Railway Zecca-Righi
To go to Righi from the city center, start at the Zecca railway station. It’s located at the end of Via Cairoli (Via Garibaldi turns into Via Cairoli), just next to the Garibaldi tunnel. Purchase your ticket inside the station from the AMT machine (cost is around 1.50 euro for a 100 minute ticket) and validate it in the small machine before boarding. You can use this ticket to come down if it is within 100 minutes of the time of validation. Otherwise you can buy a new ticket (or be adventurous and walk back down) at the Righi station.
The funicular runs every 15 minutes. It takes about 15 minutes and 7 stops to arrive to the top. Once inside the funicular, simply sit down and enjoy the ride!