Bolzaneto, that lies in Polcevera valley, in the recent past was an industrial area and now is surrounded by many small industries and business firms.
Although it is located in a suburb, it offers the possibility of interesting walks on its hills.
On the mountains behind Bolzaneto, at the left side of Polcevera valley, are two fortresses, which are part of the external fortresses of Genoa: the “Fort Diamante” and the fort named “Fratello Minore”.
At the right side of valley, on Mount Figogna (804 m), is the Shrine of N.S. della Guardia, from where you have a wide view of the valley.
The Shrine, located in the municipality of Ceranesi can be reached by the provincial road No 52.
At the beginning of the second millennium the village was a simple group of houses around the church of N.S. della Neve (Our Lady of Snow), and had been subject to the civil and religious authority of Brasile until 1854, when the municipal headquarters and the parish were transferred to Bolzaneto.
Near Bolzaneto, then on the right side of Polcevera stream, were the monastery of San Francesco alla Chiappetta, built at the end of the 13th century.
In the 18th century, the Republic of Genoa, allied of France, was involved in War of Austrian Succession. In 1746 the Valpolcevera was thus occupied by an Austrian-Piedmontese army, leaded by the General Botta Adorno, which came up to Genoa, from where he was expelled after the popular revolt of December 5, 1746, set up with the legendary episode of Balilla.
The invaders, coming from the North through the Apennine, occupied the whole Valpolcevera, bringing looting and destruction, and laid siege to Genoa. Fighting took place between the Austrians and an army of volunteers of Valpolcevera, supported by regular troops of the Republic of Genoa. On July 9, 1747 the Austrian army left the Valpolcevera, leaving behind them death and destruction.
The topography of the place had a great change in the mid-19th century, when the Genoa-Turin railway was built. It was necessary to correct and dam the torrent Polcevera (which frequently caused flooding in that place), eliminating the existing bend.
A new path for the torrent bed was dug for about 500 m, by cutting the base of the Murta hill upstream the monastery of San Francesco (that so passed from right to left bank of the stream) and an embankment on the left side was built, on which the railway runs. In the old torrent bed gradually many houses were built up, thus forming the present town of Bolzaneto.
In the second half of the 19th century, the area, formerly agricultural, became industrial, with the establishment of several companies (the most important were the Foundries Bruzzo and the soap factory Lo Faro). In 1926, together with other 18 municipalities, Bolzaneto joined the municipality of Genoa, to form the so called Great Genoa.
After the Second World War, the steel crisis led to the closure of Foundries Bruzzo (1957) and in a portion of these areas, near S. Biagio, was built the ERG refinery (then closed in 1988, also as a result of the growing attention of people to environmental aspects). In this area where there are now a large shopping center and a new residential district.
Like this, other areas, abandoned since 1960, due to the closure of many historical factories, many small industries and businesses firms have now their seats.
Close to Bolzaneto there is a police barracks that in 2001 was in the international headlines, when there many protesters (arrested during the disturbances occurred at the G8 meeting in the city of Genoa) were imprisoned. Some police officers were accused and convicted of organised brutality on a large scale.
Since 2005, the quarter of Morego is home to the headquarters of the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT).
Several times the castle was involved in fighting, especially in the 1746-1747 in the course of the War of Austrian Succession, and also became the headquarters of the Podestà (major) of Polcevera Valley. At the beginning of the 20th century it was abandoned as military stronghold and transformed into a residential villa, then into a hospital, until 1990. Currently it is used as a rest home and hospice for terminal sick people.
The first fortress, shaped as a simple tower, was demolished in 1932 to create an antiaircraft position, the second one (Minor Brother) is still intact and overlooks the valley from the top of Mount Spino (622 m).
The "Fort Diamante", on the top of mount bearing the same name, has been built in the 18th century, then completed and modified in the first half of the 19th century.
Some of these survived today, although now surrounded by factories and sheds. These buildings, restructured, are used as schools, offices or private houses.
Among these Villa Carrega (17th century) and Villa Garibaldi (now both used as nursery schools) and, on the right bank of Polcevera the Palaces Rivarola and Pareto. Near the hamlet of Cremeno is the Villa Cambiaso, which was the summer residence of Giovanni Battista Cambiaso, who was Doge of the Republic of Genoa (from 1771 to 1773).
The first Church of N.S. della Neve was built in the 14th century as a chapel depending by the parish of San Felice of Brasile, restored in seventeenth century and completely rebuilt in 1855 when became the seat of the parish.
In 1956 a new modern church, consecrated by Cardinal Giuseppe Siri in 1960, was built in another site nearby and the old church was demolished. In this new church has been placed the Baroque altars and statues of the old church. In the church there are also two paintings by Paolo Gerolamo Piola (Conversion of Saint Paul and Abraham receives three angels) and a Dead Jesus by Giulio Cesare Procaccini.
According to tradition, the site of the church and monastery of San Francesco was given by the noble family Lercari to St. Francis of Assisi, who was in Genoa in 1213 during a trip to France, but there are no documents that attest that.
The donation of the land is documented by a Convention act for the building of the monastery and the church of Chiappetta, stipulated in the 1280 between the family Lercari and the Franciscan Order, implemented in 1291.
In the following years the monastery and the church were built, in primitive Gothic style.
In the second half of 17th century the cloister was built on and at the beginning of eighteenth century the church and the monastery had been completely restructured.
Inside the church, which has a single nave, there are some remarkable paintings from the 17th century: Stigmata of St. Francis by Giovanni Battista Carlone, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Pietro Paolo Raggi (1649-1724), St. Catherine Fieschi’s Ecstasy and Immaculate Conception by Domenico Piola and St. Anthony’s Miracle” by Giuseppe Galeotti.
As mentioned above, the monastery and the church, due to the work to embank the torrent Polcevera (middle of the 19th century), passed from the right to the left bank of the stream.