28. Palace of Giacomo and Pantaleo Balbi25 March 2022
30. Palace of Stefano Balbi25 March 2022
29. Palace of Francesco Maria Balbi Piovera
The Palazzo was owned originally by Francesco Maria Balbi, followed by Marcello Luigi Durazzo and finally by Edilio Raggio, retaining the current placename.
The building is of Seventeenth Century origin and was part of the ambitious project to build a road of huge importance for the city commissioned by the Governing Authorities of the old Republic of Genoa with an edict issued on 9 July 1601 signed by Gio. Andrea Costa.
The construction of the new road had been justified both for economic reasons – it would raise money for the Republic – and for reasons relating to city planning and public benefit. The records of the Magistrature of the Fathers of the City Council illustrate the characteristics providing a benefit to the public: in particular, the new road provided for a new essential access route to the area to the West past the Porta di San Tommaso and the city boundaries marked by the city walls.
The building involved in our project was the last to be constructed on the seafacing side of the new road. The application to construct the building was submitted by Francesco Maria Balbi in February 1657, and on the 13 April the construction work was commissioned from “Maestri Michele Moncino and Michele Rusca” identifying its main design features and the choice of materials. The building works were halted almost immediately due to the epidemic of plague that had swept the City since the previous year. Victims of the epidemic included the two Masters – Monchino and Rusca -, and so Francesco Maria Balbi transferred the project to Pietro Antonio Corradi in October 1658. The construction’s estimated date of completion was 1665.
The building had been constructed in order to develop apartments for rent and it was due to this designated usage that Balbi had obtained special privileges relating to land purchase and in the agreements with the Public Administration.
It is suggested that the original distribution arrangement was very similar to that of Palazzo Balbi Senarega, but the current situation in no way substantiates such a theory.
The palazzo transferred to Costantino Balbi and it was he who was responsible for the first changes made in the first twenty years of the Eighteenth Century; the existence and extent of these works is recorded in the Mastro Book started in 1740 by the first born Giacomo Antonio.
In 1824 the Palazzo was purchased by Marcello Luigi Durazzo and the paintings contained therein were taken to Palazzo Spinola di Pellicceria. On this occasion the Palazzo was decorated by the architect Nicolò Laverneda who worked “in a contained and measured manner” decorating the stairs, drawing rooms and private rooms, and also redesigning the entrance door.
The most major renovation works were carried out later, after the building was purchased by Edilio Raggio, a very important end-of-century entrepreneur. The first project carried out under the name of the architect Luigi Rovelli, involved “the restoration of the facades for purposes of coordination so that they all have the same architecture”.
A second project in 1891 also included alterations to the interior with the demolition of the church of S. Antonio Abate and work on the elevations over the alleys, preserving the old doorway of the oratory of S. Antonio Abate and extending the atrium to the side of which rises the staircase supported by arches and cross vaults.
The staircase decorated along its length with fake marble and stucco work ends with the vaulted ceiling adorned by the paintings of Cesare Viazzi. Alongside the allegorical personification of certain events in the history of the Risorgimento, this major project also included the construction on the roof of a winter garden.
The only reminder of this major refurbishment still existing today is the exquisitely crafted iron and glass work.
It currently houses the library of the Faculty of Letters, Philosophy, and Modern Art of the University of Genoa.
Bibliografia aggiornata post 1998
P. Moncagatto, Palazzo Francesco Maria Balbi, in “Arkos”, supplemento al n. 7/2004 “Il restauro dei palazzi dei Rolli”, pp. 98-101.
The texts have been updated thanks to the INSIDE STORIES project financed with funds - Law no. 77 of 20 February 2006 "Special measures for the protection and enjoyment of Italian sites of cultural, landscape and environmental interest, included in the "World Heritage List", under the protection of UNESCO.