A path from the seaside to a hilltop offers visitors views of lush vegetation at every turn. Each scene along the way is staged like a theatrical act, indicating the route from darkness to knowledge, akin to elevation on a Masonic journey of initiation.

In 1840, Marquis Ignazio Pallavicini commissioned Architect Michele Canzio to create this garden as a trailblazing example of a Masonic path, divided into a sequence of scenes that, together, form a complete theatrical work. Every element has a specific meaning, the garden’s eclectic decor providing a transition from urban civilization to a life immersed in nature. From the palm garden, reproducing a painted backdrop from the Carlo Felice Theatre in Genoa, the path runs to the old lake with a waterfall fed by an aqueduct, and then on to a grove of camellias. The next act of this opera is a neo-Gothic ruined castle and votive aedicule, representing the anguish of human busyness. The ascent continues up to the Castello del Capitano, built in Gothic-Moorish style, with a crenellated tower looking out from the top of the hill, and views as far as the Gulf of Portofino and the Ponente Riviera. The descent down the eastern side of the hill leads through dark, eerie caves with artificial stalactites and stalagmites, before opening out onto a bright grassy clearing dominated by an obelisk, symbolizing the passage from the darkness of superstition to the light of knowledge. Next comes the shores of the main lake, in the middle of which stands a classical-inspired circular temple dedicated to Diana. This area is surrounded by eclectic decor – a pagoda and Chinese bridge, Turkish kiosk, the Pavilion of Flora – that combines to offer a peaceful, soothing spectacle, a reward for those who have abandoned the darkness of ignorance for the light of knowledge.