The Genoa Forts are not of very ancient origin. Almost all of them were built in the 19th century on the area of previous reduced forts designed to contain the siege of the Austro-Piedmontese in 1747.
The Republic of Genoa built at that time a series of temporary fortifications, mostly dry stone walls or gabions to support embankments. The few masonry works remained incomplete due to the financial difficulties of the Republic; the only fort to be built, the Diamante, was thanks to the spontaneous offer of a patrician family. The Napoleonic period brought few improvements, in fact the military expenses of the Empire were mostly absorbed in the management of the army and human material, relegating the defensive works to a secondary role; the French armies did not need bastions behind which to shelter! The Savoy government had an opposite military policy, in fact we will see the construction of enormous fortresses in a relatively short period of time, between 1815 and 1830.
The Forts of Genoa were constructions that neither the exhausted finances of the Republic of Genoa nor the French government could ever have afforded.
Piedmont also brought a different construction technique, based on brick, combined with a romantic architectural vision that will leave in the fortresses a sometimes medieval flavor.
The contrast is evident, and allows us to distinguish in a complex of structural superimpositions the clean linearity of an element of the Napoleonic period from the sometimes gloomy and rough addition brought by the Sardinian Engineer. Also contributing to the formation of articulated and powerful masses was the new technology in artillery, which was then beginning to study the fluted mouths and cylindrical projectiles, equipped with a long range and a force of penetration into the walls far superior to that of the balls.
In addition to the forts built, many others remained at the design stage, or were interrupted in the first stage of construction. The reason why Piedmont was concerned about providing Genoa with so many defenses, so as to make it the best equipped square in Europe, was that it wanted to guarantee a safe place to move the Royal Government. In case Turin was threatened or occupied, Genoa would be a bridgehead with Sardinia. The forts were never put to the test by the enemy, and within a few years it was seen, fortunately, the futility of such works, which were used only during the city insurrection of 1849.
At the end of the 1800’s, since there was no longer any danger from Austria, which had become a friend of ours with the “Triple Alliance” and the worsening of relations with France, the coastal batteries were strengthened and fortresses were built to defend Genoa from the west.
The typology of these fortifications is now decidedly modern, even if it preserves the tradition of the perimeter moat. These are fortresses at ground level, with stone walls, covered by a mantle of earth to camouflage them solid with thick concrete vaults.
The forts on the heights between Cornigliano and Sestri and near the Turchino pass date back to this period. But even these were short-lived because they were abandoned after the First World War.
(Tratto da “Fortificazioni campali e permanenti di Genova” di R. Finocchio, Valentini Editore)