The Bigo is the scenic panoramic lift in Genoa, designed by Renzo Piano for the Expo 1992, located in the Porto Antico area. While you are in Genoa to visit the world-famous Aquarium, you can look at the Bigo too and enjoy a splendid view of the city and port from above.
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About the Bigo Panoramic Lift in Genoa
The Bigo Panoramic Lift and the Biosfera are the first structures that catch the eye when arriving in Genoa’s Porto Antico district, due to their peculiar shapes. Architect Renzo Piano designed the Bigo lift for the Colombiadi, Genoa’s 1992 Universal Exhibition, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of America’s discovery.
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After its opening, the Bigo Panoramic Lift quickly became a popular attraction for tourists because it provides visitors with a unique view of the city and the harbour. Its profile is reminiscent of Genoa’s maritime past, when the harbour was full of cranes constantly working to load and unload ships. Unlike the old cranes, the panoramic lift reaches a height of forty metres.
Genoa’s most iconic buildings from the top
At 40 metres high, from the top of the Bigo, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city of Genoa and the old port. Once you reach the maximum height, the lift rotates 360 degrees, giving you a view of the city from every angle, regardless of where you enter the cabin.
Viewing the city from above provides a unique perspective. It allows you to appreciate the city’s vertical construction at different heights. What may have been challenging to discern about the layout of Genoa while climbing stairs and using lifts, it becomes clear with a single glance from the top.
Cotton Warehouse and Porto Antico (Old Port)
Looking towards the sea, you can appreciate how Magazzini del Cotone (Cotton Warehouse) and the Porto Antico area (Old Port) have changed their appearance over the years. From an abandoned area to a tourist destination within a few decades. A skilful use of design transformed the Porto Antico area, giving a contemporary twist to a historical area.
It is interesting to see how, from the top of the Bigo, the large white kites of the wind sculpture ‘Il Vento di Colombo’ (The Wind of Columbus) by Japanese artist Susumu Shingu look like ships’ sails blown by the wind.
Palazzo San Giorgio
From the top of the Bigo, you can also recognise Palazzo San Giorgio, home of Genoa’s Port Authority. Caught between the causeway in front of Porto Antico and Genoa’s carruggi, you can’t imagine its former majesty from ground level. From above, however, you can admire the splendid, richly painted Renaissance façade.
Renzo Piano’s Bigo design
The Bigo Panoramic Lift is one of the attractions of Genoa’s Old Port, along with the Aquarium and the Biosphere. It was part of a redevelopment project led by architect Renzo Piano in 1992.
Symbol of Expo 1992, the Bigo Panoramic Lift is also a reminder of Genoa’s maritime history. Name and shape drew inspiration from the ship cranes, known as ‘bigo’, mounted on cargo ships. The purpose of ‘Bigo’ cranes was to move boxes from ships to land before using containers and more modern displacement systems.
The Bigo Panoramic Lift has seven white, fan-shaped arms connected by cables, which jut out of the dock very scenically. The base is in the water, and the arms of different lengths occupy and visually delineate the entire landscape of the Porto Antico. The longest arm supports the cabin of the rotating circular panoramic lift.
Practical information to get on Genoa’s Bigo
The Bigo Panoramic Lift is one of the symbols and a must-see attraction in Genoa. Entering its cabin is more than just getting on any panoramic lift. It means getting on a moving work of art designed by architect Renzo Piano.
The cabin’s ascent and complete turnaround takes about ten minutes, with an imperceptible rotating movement. There are no vibrations when the lift ascends or turns on itself.
During the visit, a recorded voice is supposed to help you identify the buildings and elements of the harbour in the panorama of Genoa. However, it is not always working. On the day of my visit, for example, it didn’t work, but I still had fun trying to recognise the sights of Genoa.
How much the Bigo Panoramic Lift ticket costs
The ticket to ride the Bigo Panoramic Lift costs € 5. You can buy it online or at the ticket office in front of the glass cabin. I advise buying it online to skip the queue, possibly even in combination Bigo Panoramic Lift + Aquarium of Genoa.
If you want to make your itinerary in Genoa more efficient, I recommend visiting the Bigo Panoramic Lift on the same day you plan to explore other attractions in Genoa’s Porto Antico area. The Aquarium and Biosphere are nearby, so you can easily walk to them. However, please note that the Bigo Panoramic Lift may be closed on hot days because the interior is not air-conditioned.
Ascensore Panoramico Bigo
Where to stay in Genoa
Genoa offers a variety of hotels and B&Bs to choose from. I recommend the Olympia Hotel, a family-run hotel located in the heart of Genova in a historic Art-Nouveau building. For a luxurious experience, the Hotel Bristol Palace features an impressive elliptical staircase leading to its elegant rooms decorated with antique furniture. If you’re on a budget, the Hotel Nologo offers colourful rooms, each named after a music genre, conveniently located near Genova Brignole Station.
Going up the Bigo Panoramic Lift in Porto Antico is one of the must-do activities during a visit to Genoa. From an architectural point of view, this work by Renzo Piano is awe-inspiring and cannot leave you indifferent. Feel free to leave a comment about your experience and what impressed you most about this attraction.