Discovering Via Balbi and visiting the Royal Palace Museum
Not far from Via Garibaldi, the ancient Strada Nuova, stands Via Balbi, home to some of the faculties of the University of Genoa and famous for its noble palaces. The street was built in the early 1600s at the behest of the Balbi family, precisely, who entrusted the task to architect Bartolomeo Bianco, known for his interpretations of Genoese Baroque in architecture.
Animated by many young students, workers and tourists in equal measure, the street is full of bars, shops and hotels. In fact, its location, just a two-minute walk from Genoa's Piazza Principe train station, makes it one of the city's main thoroughfares.
How to reach via Balbi from the Hotel Astoria? It takes only 15 minutes by bus, getting off at the Balbi 2/Palazzo Reale stop, or 10 minutes by train, getting off at Genova Piazza Principe station. Alternatively, you can explore Genoa on foot, slightly lengthening the itinerary by including a visit to the Royal Palace Museum.
Via Balbi: the University of Genoa and the historic buildings
Via Balbi was built along what was the former route of Strada Nuova, now Via Garibaldi, along the edge of the city walls, of which only a few vestiges remain today. Some of the main university faculties are based here.
Via Balbi in Genoa is known mainly for its sumptuous palaces, which were built at the behest of the wealthy families of the time and are an expression of the best late Mannerist and Baroque architecture.
Prominent among them is Palazzo Balbi Senarega, and its scenic courtyard centered on a visual interplay of arcades, colonnades, and staircases. A former Jesuit college, and now the headquarters of the University, it deserves to be visited (if accessible) to admire some of Giambologna's precious bronzes and frescoed halls.
Next to Palazzo Balbi Senarega stands the Church of Saints Victor and Charles, inside which you can admire an important crucifix, the Franzoni Chapel and bronze busts by Alessandro Algardi, with the mournful black stone background of Promontorio.
The Royal Palace Museum
Among the main attractions on Via Balbi we unquestionably find the Royal Palace, dating back to 1650. Built at the behest of the Balbi family, it initially passed to the Durazzo family in 1677, and was later acquired by the Savoys, who in 1919 gave it to the State Property Office and it was thus turned into a museum.
Inside, in addition to the architecture and ornaments in sumptuous Baroque style, and precious furniture from the 17th and 18th centuries, one can also admire numerous paintings that once belonged to the families who inhabited the mansion. Prominent among them are works by artists such as Anton Van Dyck, Guercino, Luca Giordano, and several exponents of Genoese Baroque painting. There is no shortage of sculptures, the work of Filippo Parodi and Francesco Schiaffino.
Among the most famous rooms of the Royal Palace Museum is the Mirror Gallery, with an important collection of ancient Roman statues on display. Finally, don't miss the panoramic terrace, from which you can admire the view of Genoa's harbor, and the elegant Italian garden.