I’ve always had family members living in Genoa, on both side, mom’s and dad’s. So, since I was a kid, I’ve been there several times, but usually at my relatives’ homes and just around it, never like a real tourist…My cousin Giulia wedding finally gave me this opportunity, at least for the streets we walked through going from one place to another….and leaving me with the feeling of wanting to see and know more…
Palazzo Tursi-Doria is the place where the wedding ceremony was held, so I had plenty of time to look around…
Palazzo Doria-Tursi is a building in the historic center of Genoa , entered in 2006 in the list of the 42 palaces enrolled to the Rolli of Genoa on that date becoming Heritage of humanity of the UNESCO. The palace was built from 1565 by Domenico and Giovanni Ponzello for Niccolò Grimaldi prince of Salerno and duke of Eboli, called “the monarch” thanks to the ranks of noble titles of which he could boast, and which included the many claims he had on Philip II , of whom he was the main banker.
It is the most solemn of this historic street, built on three lots of land, with two large gardens framing the central body. The spacious balconies overlooking the street were added in 1597, when the building became the property of Giovanni Andrea Doria who acquired it for the younger son Charles, Duke of Tursi , thus its present name. During the eighteenth century, still a property of the Doria family, but abandoned by the owners, it had the opportunity to host the Duc de Richelieu (1747), the Duke of York (1763) and the Infanta Maria Teresa of Parma (1780).
In 1820 it was bought by the Savoy for the stay in Genoa of Vittorio Emanuele I, but because of his death it was used only by the widow Maria Teresa. Since 1838 and for a decade it was the site of the Jesuit College; in 1848 finally it became the property of the City of Genoa.
The facade is characterized by alternating materials of different colors: the pink stone from Finale , the gray-black of slate , the white of the precious Carrara marble . The main facade consists of two overlapping orders. The mezzanine above the large plinth alternates windows from the original design with rustic jutting pilasters, replaced upstairs with doric ones. Mascarons with bestial grimaces surmount the windows of both floors, contributing to the plastic rendering of the facade. The portal is crowned by a marble coat of arms of Genoa .
Especially innovative is the new and ingenious architectural solution that with the succession of interior spaces – lobby, staircase, rectangular yard elevated above the porch and double staircase – creates a wonderful play of light and perspective. The building represents the culmination of residential splendor of the Genoese aristocracy, as witnessed by the interior decorations, the paintings, part of the museum collection of the White Palace or as seen in the Diplomatic Reception Room in the frescoes and paintings.
The Diplomatic Reception Room, where all the weddings ceremonies take place, is really a feast for the eyes….
….with the ubiquitous presence of Christopher Columbus….
Located on the right side of Palazzo Tursi,and as well listed in the Rolli of Genoa, another beautiful palazzo, home of Nicolosio Lomellino, representative of the noble Genoese family that had many of its interests in the island of Tabarca in the coral trade.
It was built between 1559 and 1565 by Giovanni Battista Castello said the “Bergamasco” and Bernardo Canton at the behest of Nicolosio Lomellino, a member of a family in full economic and political ascent. At the beginning of the seventeenth century the estate was transferred to the Centurione family that made an internal restructuring, then to the Pallavicini , the Raggi and finally Andrea Podesta, several times mayor of Genoa between 1866 and 1895. The facade , where one can feel the strong presence of the Bergamasco, is animated by a rich decoration in stucco, with winged female herms, to support the cornice of the ground floor; tapes and drapes to hold, on the first floor, war trophies; garlands and masks crowning the windows, with classical figures within oval medallions on the second.
Beyond the large main door, it opens up an oval-shaped atrium, whose short sides house four small lacunar exhedrae. Between one exhedra and the other, there are pairs of Ionic herms, alternated with panels surmounted by a small obelisk. A precious ceiling with fanciful stucco decorations features a medallion at the centre, representing a warlike feat of bravery according to the most ancient and reputed iconography, whereas the globes placed around it represent different views of the subject of the imperator and his liberality, after Müller Profumo’s interpretation. An imaginary fabric hangs around the central oval and connects the various medaillons with elegant swirls, vegetal swags, weapon trophies, small putti. Stucco decorations are Sparzo’s handworks, but the design of this room and the décor are likely to be ascribed again to the genius of the Bergamasco, whose style is manifest in the bizarre typology of the herms, peculiar of the mannerist style of this artist.
Prior to the last restoration works, the atrium was dulled by an ochre-greenish colour painting which did not help a clean-cut interpretation of the various elements; today the cleaning of the surfaces and some restoration works gave back the stucco decorations their original white and light-blue shades.
The scenographic nymphaeum is placed at the end of the junction axis among the atrium, the entrance hall and the courtyard. This type of “rustic fountain” points to the evolution of the local taste, which during the 17th century turns the traditional artificial caves of the sixteenth century into open nymphaea overlooking the natural spaces. This nymphaeum was likely built by Pallavicini family right after the purchase of the Palace (1711) and represents one of the décor works to modernize the residence along with the frescoes on the second state floor. The majestic look of the fountain – which exploits the water coming from the water tank located on the hill of Castelletto at the rear – was a project from Domenico Parodi, then carried out by Biggi. The height of this nymphaeum is carefully devised to give continuity to the Palace and the rearward hill, thus creating a ‘trompe l’oeil’ of two nymphaea in an iconographical relation one with the other, the first at the courtyard level and the second one above the terrace.
The vault of the big nymphaeum is supported by two giant tritons, who framed a scene inspired to the myth of Phaeton which unfortunately got lost. The young Phaeton, son of the Sun, upon insistence was allowed to drive just for one day his father’s cart but, being unable to hold up the fiery horses, he burned out of rash the Sky and the Earth, and for this reason Zeus hit him with a lightning and made him fell into a river. During the restoration works, the fountain has been carefully cleaned and brought back to its original splendour, to catch the attention of the visitors and fascinate them.
The garden, right from its beginnings formed on different layered levels shelved on the hillside of Castelletto, underwent during the eighteenth century, together with the Palace, a major change at the courtyard level and of the first piece of terracing.
Comparing the plans by Rubens and by Gauthier there was clearly an enlargement of the courtyard space for embellishment, obtained by excavating and moving back the retaining wall on the first level of the garden, thus giving more space to the backdrop which would later host the nymphaeum.
The historian Lauro Magnani traces back to the Parodi direction in order to date the entire relief model construction in the garden: such as the satyrs on the balustrade which faces on to the first layer of terracing, and the five statues which dominate the garden from height of the retaining wall on the second level. Here the theme of Bacchus predominates: two female figures and three male ones, amongst which there is probably also Dionysus, play bagpipes, flutes and other musical instruments. The retaining wall on the second level of the garden is occupied in the centre by a niche: here a stone pool is decorated by an enormous Silenus in stucco, busy pouring wine in the fountain water from an amphora in to the mouth of Bacchus. On the western side a grotto opens out, with stalactites and shells, inside the cave a wild boar is trying to hide whilst being hunted by Adonis. At the centre of the ‘parterre’ there is a circular pool in white marble with a small Hercules in the middle fighting with a snake, this can also be attributed to the Parodi period.
The palace was open for inside visits, but unfortunately we handn’t enough time, we were just waiting for the newlywed to finish their professional photoshooting….