Pebble mosaics of the Palazzo Reale, Genoa, Italy

Posted on
A fountain of a mermaid holding an urn graces the terrace above the Courtroom of Honor on the Palazzo Reale

I spent the winter in Italy this yr, largely within the north of the nation.  One in every of my favourite cities, which I didn’t spend sufficient time in was Genoa, which the Italians name Genova.  It’s most well-known within the west because the supposed birthplace of Christopher Columbus, though that’s disputed.  Nonetheless, it deserves a high-quality statue.

A monument to Christopher Columbus on the By way of Balbi in Genoa

The Palazzo Reale, or Royal Palace in Genoa sits on a hill throughout from the Church of San Carlo on the By way of Balbi, in an space of the town that was being developed within the 17th Century in to a modern neighborhood for the town’s wealthiest households.

A Renaissance interval grotto in a palazzo on By way of Balbi

The mission of constructing the palace was begun in 1643 for the Balbi household who rose to noble standing by profitable commerce within the manufacturing of silk, and later banking.

Lavish silk wall coverings within the palace

However fortunes and kinds change, and finacial issues pressured the Balbi household to promote the palace.

Portrait of Catarina Balbi

Substancial additions had been made in to the subsequent century by the subsequent proprietor Eugenio Durazzo, who’s household turned essentially the most influencial in Genoa.  His son Gerolamo fully refurbished the palace after his father’s demise, so that just about nothing stays of the unique Balbi Palace, though it had been ornamented by a few of Genoa’s best artists and craftsmen.  Being patrons of the theater and opera, the Teatro Falcone was construct adjoining to the palace.

Gate resulting in the Courtroom of Honor of the Palazzo Reale
A view from the backyard to the gate

In 1816, the Savoy dynasty of Torino petitioned to make the palazzo in to a royal palace.  Their son Ferdinand was given the title Duke of Genoa, and luxurious flats had been constructed for his mother and father the Duke and Dutchess of Savoy, and himself.  The Savoy Palace in Torino to the north has a grandeur similar to Versailles outdoors of Paris, which turned the enviable mannequin for what a royal household ought to aspire to.  So nice halls with mirrors turned all the trend in a quantity if Italian royal palaces, the one in Genoa included.  This corridor was used for necessary diplomatic receptions.

Galleria degli Specchi, The Corridor of Mirrors
Sala del Trono, The Throne Room of the Duke of Savoy within the Palazzo Reale

A really effectively made movie in regards to the palace could be seen right here that covers the detailed historical past of the event of the palace interiors and the households who inhabited it.  No point out is manufactured from the gardens since they’re a a lot later addition, which I’m discussing right here.


A romantic fresco with Puti and a mandoline participant within the ballroom

The frequent reworking of the palace consists of the peculiar trying wings with roof terraces had been added to the again of the principle constructing, and have that tacked on look but in addition makes for a glance one thing like a  fancily frosted cake.

The Palazzo Reale with its awkward additions

The 1944 bombing of Genoa by the allies broken the Teatro del Falcone within the palace however a lot of the constructing was spared, in contrast to so many others necessary historic buildings all through Italy.  Within the 1950’s the theater was rebuilt and the ‘Hanging Backyard’ terraza was put in.

Pebble Mosaic within the Risseu model

The pebble mosaics had been reassembled right here after being faraway from the warfare broken Monastery of the Blue Nuns of Castelleto district.  The mosaics have ornate white pebble designs set in a area of black pebbles depicting a collection of animals, and scenes from every day life surrounding an eight sided marble fountain basin.  These are the lovliest pebble mosaics that I noticed whereas touring within the Liguria Province.

Huge axial paths join join it to the palace and result in a view in the direction of the lighthouse and harbor.  Its fairly lovely from the bottom plain or seen from the roof terrace and bridge arcade above.

The pebble mosaic terraza was as soon as a part of a Convent that was closely broken in World Conflict II and moved to the palace throughout restoration.

This conventional model of pebble mosaic known as Risseu and could be seen everywhere in the area of Liguria, though normally the patterns are extra easy.  The Genoese kingdom unfold throughout elements of the Mediterannean and Adriatic and Aegean and Black Seas within the 13th Century, and together with it got here the import of pebble mosaics.  I noticed a number of elaborate Risseu model mosaics in entrance of Turkish mansions on the island of Lesvos in Greece courting from the Ottoman empire within the late 19th Century which had been influenced by the Ligurian Risseu model.

An Ottoman interval mosaic within the Ligurian Risseu model in Mytilini, on the Island of Lesvos, Greece
Canines searching a wild boar on the Palazzo Reale

The mosaics relocated to the hanging backyard terrace in Genoa depict quite a few unique animals in pure settings, forming a type of zoo like menagerie.  There are searching scenes, and wild animals from far-off lands, and mythological creatures that may have added an entertaining and considerably instructional relevance to the designs.  A few of them might be telling a narrative however I’m not conscious of what they’d be.

A leopard in a forest within the Palazzo Reale’s pebble terrazza
A stag mosaic on the Palazzo Reale
Elephant with a monkey on its again underneath a palm.  It’s attainable that the artists had by no means really seen an actual elephant.
A Seahorse

The mosaic terrace has excellent proportions and units the stage for the view of the harbor though industrial improvement has made the view in the direction of the harbor much less interesting than it as soon as was.

Fishermen consuming wine whereas they work
A person herding mules to a Mill
The Mosaic Backyard searching to the Genoa Harbour
A plaque commemorating the restoration of the Palazzo’s mosaics
The dimensions of the backyard may be very pleasing, with its plantings of native Chamaerops humilis, the Mediterranean Fan Palm and different species, in addition to Italian Cypresses
A white marble balustrade borders the terrace of the Hanging Gardens
Wanting down from the arcade bridge constructed that divides the Hanging Backyard from the Courtroom of Honor
Marble urns and the Mermaid fountain on the arcade
A person enjoying a horn within the forest
An historic Roman sarcophagus ornaments one of many axial paths of the backyard
View of the harbor lighthouse from the Hanging Gard

A video could be seen at this hyperlink exhibiting the method of constructing a Risseu approach pebble mosaic.

The method is clearly tedious, one thing I do know very effectively from constructing them during the last three a long time, though my course of is sort of totally different.  The pebbles used on this work have a really uniform form and thickness enabling them to be set in a skinny mattress of lime mortar.

Add caption

The outcomes are fairly fantastic to behold, and pavement match for a king.  Thanks for studying, Jeffrey

These are some photographs of different pebble mosaics that I noticed within the lovely city of Portofino, north east of Genoa.  It’s conventional to see these sorts of mosaics round church buildings.


four dolphins and a couple of tridents

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *