During last centuries many historical buildings in various italian cities became, through different happenings, bank headquarters. Because of this, to visit them is not easy and often we can’t access the architectural and artistic treasures held in them. To give access to these buildings, once a year ABI, Italian Bank Association, open the most prestigious of them during the event “Invito a palazzo“.
Saturday 4th October 2014 there has been the XIII Edition of the successfull event and me and my dear friend Donatella, using this occasion to meet each other after long time, went to have a look inside the three palaces opened in Genoa.
The first one we visited is the address of the Agency 8 of Banca Carige, originally Curch of Santa Sabina. Since until 1931 this was a church but nothing seems to remind that, already from the facade we understand a story full of event and changes:
The misfortunes of this building started already in ancient times: in origin the antique Church of Santa Sabina and Vittore, dating at least at 591, it was sacked by Saracens in 936 and rebuilt in 1008 in the architectural way we still can admire today.Later it was reshaped in 1500, damaging and mostly destroying the original romanesque architecture.
But it was in the years following the closure of Santa Sabina as a cult place in 1931 that most of the damages were done, leaving intact at the end only a part of the apsis zone: despite the opposition of some people, in the first half of ‘900 the former church became a deposit, then a car park and finally a cinema, during the creation of which the original architecture was fundamentally modified and mostly destroyed. When the cinema closed, the building was bought by Cassa di Risparmio di Genova e Imperia, which did a recovery operation (for how much it was possible) trying to give back the remaining architecture to the citizens, integrating it with the bank agency:
In the romanesque apsis, without having any link with the original church but only to be better enjoyed by the public, there’s an altarpiece by Bernardo Strozzi (Genoa 1581 – Venice 1644) portraying the Annunciation and dated to the first half of 1600s.
The second building of our tour is the famous Palazzo Spinola dei Marmi in Piazza Fontane Marose, seat of Banco di Sardegna.
This palace takes the name from Spinola family which built it in XV century; the bank’s presence inside is not a new thing: Iacopo Spinola, the man who wanted the palace, had one of the main shares in Banco di San Giorgio.
It’s not a case even the name “dei Marmi” (of marbles): it’s related to the palace’s front, in romanesque-pisano style with bands of white and black marble. In the recesses on the facade there are the statues of five member of Spinola family.
Little facts: this palace is part of Genoa’s Rolli (an ancient list collecting the most beautiful buildings of the city, those that could host great personalities visiting Genoa) and in 1700s hosted Giuseppina Tascher de la Pagerie, later Giuseppina Bonaparte.
Inside there’s an impressive main hall, with a coffered ceiling with larch beams from Corsica:
There’s a good chance that in this room it was prepared the 1797 insurrection, the one starting the Ligurian Republic.
From Piazza Fontane Marose we moved toward the very centre of Genoa to reach the third and last Palace: the Banca Carige’s headquarters one, containing its precious art collection which covers the period from 1500s to late 1900s.
This time the core of the visit was not so much the building, but the precious artworks held inside its elegant rooms, from paintings to sculptures, to tapestries and furnitures.
The visit took place at the 14° floor, the representative one, where a guide accompanied us from room to room (around ten) describing the marvels around.
I appreciated especially the main hall, in which there was a painting by Paolo Caliari, better known as il Veronese: it’s his famous interpretation of Susanna e i vecchioni, which influenced a lot the work of other Genoa’s artists of the time.
In the middle of the hall there were two important artworks, one beside each other to make a comparison: the “Ecce Homo” by Valerio Castello (1639) and the one by Orazio De Ferrari (1649). The two paintings are contemporary but the styles are completely different and this fact gave the starting point to some thoughts about the variety of artistic feelings during that period.
The guide then took us to the office of the Bank’s president, in which me and Donatella got very fascinated by a little painting that no one seemed to pay attention to: “La Munificenza” by Nicolò Barabino.
The room I liked more is the one just out of the presidential office: with smaller artworks, surrounded by golden frames, standing out on the robin’s egg blue wall.
The artworks are a painting by Angelo Costa, “Il Porto di Genova“, and three works by Nicolò Barabino: from the left, “Flagellazione“, the famous “Minolla o vecchia col mezzaro” and “I Vespri siciliani“.
We ended our visit in the last rooms, from where I took this shot of the breath-taking panorama of my city:
Unluckily this is the only one I got since, only lack of the visit, unexplainably half a hour earlier than the closure of the event the staff forbid us to access the panoramic terrace, telling us to come back next year. Too bad: for many of the participants it was a pretty important part of the tour.
Our visit took place in Genoa, but the event by ABI opens buildings all around Italy: on the official site you’ll find the complete list of Palaces open every year, get prepared for the next time 😉
Click on “Center map” to see the position of the Palaces we visited:[mappress mapid=”2″]