Genoa, Italy was once a naval powerhouse. Sometimes it outshone even the Venetian republic in its power and influence.
During the heyday of Genoa’s power, very rich families vied to impress each other by building magnificent palazzi. Today, more than 100 of them still survive and Genoa is protected under UNESCO status for these buildings.
Of the more than 100 palazzi still extant, about 31 of them are opened for viewing one or two times a year. The event is known as “Rolli Days.” Rolli means list in Genoa and the “list” referred to is the list of fabulous mansions that were kept on file by the political leaders of Genoa.
They kept this prestigious list and, when a dignitary came to town–which happened a lot–the leaders decided which of the 100 family mansions would be chosen to host any expected dignitary. It must have been an honor to be on that list, even though it meant that the family would foot the entire bill for housing and entertaining the dignitary. Some of these included Popes and European royalty, to name but a couple.
I had the pleasure of visiting Genoa recently to take advantage of the opportunity to see some of these amazing mansions. There were about 30 open and I saw a good number of them. One of the most impressive is the Palazzo Francesco Grimaldi, aka Galleria Nazionale di Palazzo Spinola. Below are just some of the fabulous things I saw:
The Grimaldi family tree. Now that’s how to illustrate a family tree!