Gold. Colour. Movement.
Everything surrounds you, making you feel dizzy. How is it possible that in a city like this, a port, a merchant town where stone rules supreme, you can go into a palazzo or church and be overcome by giddiness?
How is it you can feel simultaneously dazed and elated?
Secret places from a private Genoa, its wealthy and intellectual side, are now open to everyone.
Statues, frescoes and incredible stucco traverse the room in a relentless dance. Musicians face one another from the painted balustrades, and bizarre and comical figures take a peek at the people below.
The subject matter is triumphal, whilst the ancestors lined up on the walls are austere, elegant in their Roman armour, celebrating the family’s ancient roots, firmly entrenched in Genoese history.
The story of paganism is recounted, sometimes a model of virtue, other times of vice, and the bodies undress in a series of shapes and movements. Nature is present too: floruishing plants and trees are depicted both symbolically and realistically in real or imaginary gardens. Animals are both friends that offer companionship and exotic creatures that take us to distant lands, referencing the daring discoveries of intrepid Genoese.
Elegant ladies, dressed in silk and velvet, parade in high society, showing off precious jewels and clothes embellished with pretentious embroidery. Awaiting an invitation to dance, they admire themselves in the mirrors of the lavish galleries, lit by sparkling candelabras.
Genoa is prosperous, elegant and sumptuous. The masters of the houses show us their world through their homes, their everyday items and their family documents.
The portraits hung in the bedrooms and living rooms create a connection between them and us, and tell us about their existence, their ambitions, their aspirations and personal battles.
There are blonde-haired, chubby children, pot-bellied men and young men with flamboyant moustaches, and threatening, ugly ladies painted by Rubens and Van Dyck. The Genoese do business in the Mediterranean and continental Europe. Abundant collections of Flemish art adorn living rooms and museums.
The churches contain an infinite gallery of Italian and foreign masterpieces. Magnificent organs still today resound to celebrate the faith.
This is a secretive, rarely-seen side of Genoa: where artistic treasures of the highest level hide behind simple and plain façades and exteriors.