In the Genoa of the “fin de siècle”

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Genoa is a city to pluck the petals from, like a rose which, petal after petal, reveals surprising aspects: true architectural gems which pass by our eyes nearly unnoticed. In Genoa you can find many examples of palaces and decorations in the Liberty and Art nouveau styles, but few know that the Coppedè brothers built villas and palaces here in Genoa which are recognisable by the peculiarities which mark their style.

Genoa offers a “fin de siècle” route to discover a great deal of the Coppedè works.

In front of the Stazione Marittima, a departure point for huge transatlantic liners in the early 1900’s, you see, behind the Palazzo del Principe the Grand Hotel Miramare, which has today been transformed into apartments and is clearly identifiable by the still visible sign. It was built by Gino Coppedè at the start of the 1900’s and its rooms housed many parties. From here it is easy to reach by foot Via Cairoli where, between the old palaces protected by UNESCO, stands Palazzo della Meridiana: its halls were redecorated in a project by the Coppedè brothers in the early 1900’s when this palace was the official headquarters of Scottish insurer Evan Mckenzie, who also asked the brothers to build McKenzie Castle.

In the centre of the Genoese city, in Piazza De Ferrari, we are at the end of the nineteenth century: on the right is the Palazzo della Regione, former building of the Compagnia di navigazione Italia, on the left is the Accademia Ligustica, in front of us the splendid fountain and directly in front of it we find Via XX Settembre and the Palazzo della Borsa, with its rooms decorated in a superb manner by Adolfo Coppedè. The offices, in order to visit it, are open from Monday to Friday. Via XX Settembre is a typical example of the Liberty style: you just need to raise your eyes and not get taken in solely by the shop windows, to finally arrive in Via Maragliano, number 2, and find Palazzo Zuccarino, constructed by Gino Coppedè in the first decade of the 1900’s.

Taking the sea road is easy. You just need to reach Corso Italia, the Genoese promenade where you find Villa Canali, another of the Coppedès’ splendid works, in Corso Italia number 26, which is now the headquarters of the Fondazione Gaslini. At the end of the seaside walk is the village of Boccadasse with its intertwining alleyways where you can taste great ice-creams and great cooking and where the Coppedès’ built the Turcke Castle: it is found in Via al Capo Santa Chiara 24B, but can be seen even better arriving from the viewpoint facing the sea just before it.

Defined as the ‘King’s whim’, it is decorated with battlements, stairs which cross over, beaten iron

The Coppedès’ greatest work is well worth a visit: this is the MacKenzie Castle in the Piazza Manin area. Defined as the ‘King’s whim’, it is decorated with battlements, stairs which cross over, beaten iron: it seems like entering the world of Escher, a world where fantasy has no bounds, the outside is like the inside and natural elements unite in human work without interruption. At present, the castle is the property of the Cambi auction house: it is open to visits but booking needs to be done at least one week in advance on the number tel. +39 010 839 5029.

A free spirit like me can’t not live in Liguria: an embrace of mountains and the sea, between…

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