Apartment of the Prince
Welcome to the Prince Andrea Doria’s private rooms. Following the borgognone ceremonial imposed from Charles V in the Spanish court they served as hierarchic filters. The access to the first rooms was granted gentlemen of a certain ranking, in the following, only court members. To enter the last rooms, the most private ones, an explicit invitation from the Prince was required. Today the honor is granted for you all. Come and discover the secrets of the Prince’s apartment.
- Roman Pittance Hall
- The Roman Pittance Hall was previously annexed to the contiguous Giant’s Manor Hall, but could be served as a dining room. In the fresco on the vault Perin del Vaga illustrates the episode of the Roman pittance. This event, recounted by the Latin historian Valerio Massimo in his memorable events and sayings has a strong connotation of moral instance: An old man sentenced to death for starvation in prison is saved by his devote daughter, who breast feeds the old man through the bars of his cell, secretly from his jailers. The story has been related to the themes of generosity and hospitality. In the hall are conserved some preparatory cardboard sketches for the tapestrys of the battle of Lepanto, an allegoric painting that shows the handing over of power from Andrea to Andrea Giovanni I and a series of original memorabilia including a specimen of the golden Torson, a hankered decoration assigned to Andrea Doria and to a couple of his descendants.
- Giant’s Fall Manor Hall
- This room, the main hall of Andrea Doria’s apartments, was the one with most ceremonial value of the whole villa, were parties and luxurious banquets were held: here is were the throne of Charles V was disposed during the sovereign’s visits to the villa. Perin del Vaga decorated the massive vault with a courageous unique composition. Sealed of in a corner with the monogram of the artist the great fresco holds numerous tributes to the grand masters he had met in Rome such as Raffaello Michelangelo and Rosso Fiorentino.
The represented theme is Zeus that strikes with lightning the rebelling Giants. According to the myth described by Omero Esiodo and Apollodoro and resumed in a second period by Ovidio in the first book of his Metamorphosis, the giants attacked the Olympus to overthrow the gods. To that followed an atrocious battle won by the gods of the Olympus lead by Zeus. The same scene is represented in the Tea Palace in Mantova painted in the same years from Giulio Romano under order of the Gonzaga family. The choise of this theme is probably not casual but is binded to the political view with which it could be associated; Zeus victorious against the giants was intended as an allegory of the Emperor Charles V victorious against his enemies. Around the fresco, a stucco frame shows grotesque motifs and sacrifice scenes inspired from the decorations in the Domus Aurea. The fanlights disposed underneath show images of marine and river divinities.
The hall, embellished by a majestic fireplace in white marble from Carrara and black stone from the headland, designed by Pierino and exposing a high relief of Prometeo donating fire to humanity,holds important portraits of Andrea and other members of the peerage, the exceptional tapestry of Alexander the Great and a wonderful table with the surface embellished by hard stones.
- Perseo’s Hall
- The hall, who’s walls are decorated with velvet cloths from the seventeenth century, was probably used as the winter bedroom: It’s southern orientation guaranteed more favorable temperatures. This hall possessed a Recamera, Cadmio’s room. In both rooms the fresco show the deeds of a hero undertaking difficult exploits and able to restore harmony, allusion to the virtues of Andrea Doria and to his pacifier role for Genoa he claimed to have.
In the fanlights is here represented the Story of Perseo. The hero was burdened by Polidette of the difficult task of killing Medusa, who could petrify with her stare. With the protection of Minerva Perseo fulfilled his task decapitating Medusa and using her head to turn Perseo into stone. During his adventurous journey he freed Andromeda, That would become his wife,who was chained to a rock and menaced by a marine monster.
- Hall of the Sacrifices
- Parallel to Perseo’s hall the room was probably used as a bedroom, preferred during the summer because facing north, and therefore cooler. Pierino painted the scene of the sacrifice of the pagans in the fan lights. In the triangles over the fanlights, called “celetti” are represented divinities included in octagons, between which Giunone and Venus are well recognizable for the peacock and the dove that characterize them. In the vault’s panels you other figures and mythological scenes are visible and included in a tiny partition inspired to the ceilings of Nerone’s the Domus Aurea which Pierino knew very well. Considered the prevalance of the religius theme, even if expressen in classic form,it is probable that in this case the the allusion could be intended as the pietas (pity) of the purchaser of the painting, Andrea Doria. In the hall are visible three tapestry of the Mesi Doria, weaved in Bruxelles around 1525.
- Cadmio’s Hall
- The hall was the “recamera” (smaller room annexed to a bed room and with a wardrobe purpose) of Perseo’s hall. Today it holds a wooden bed of the XVII century. The decoration of the vault was damaged in the bombings of 1944: In this part of the villa the overhead ceiling was riped open and the water infiltrations started to crumble the paintings. A better legibility has been recovered thanks to the restoration finished in 2008. In the fanlights were represented the entire events of Cadmio’s life, founder of the city of Tebe. The hero according to th myth, killed a dragon and following Minerva’s indications scattered it’s teeth from which an army of ferocious warriors, the ancestors of Tebe, was born. Zeus gave Armonia, daughter of Mars and Venus “that whom unites” in bride to Cadmio.
- Hall of the Zodiac
- The room, recamera of the hall of sacrifices and equal for function and dimensions to the hall of Cadmio takes it’s name from the zodiac sines represented in the fanlights. Doe to the damages of the war (1944) at the moment are visible only the ones painted on the southeastern side. These are the ones representing the scenes of the Fish and the Aquarium; Next to this the Capricorn is partially visible. At the center of the vault, the Phoenix is represented in a stucco bas-relief. The main theme of the decorations was certainly the cyclical flow of time, regulated by months and seasons; it is possible to find an allusion to the Doria’s horoscope, following a Renaissance custom, the most famous example of which is the fresco of Pruzzi in Villa Farnesina of Agostino Chigi in Rome. The loss of important decorative elements does not allow us to state it without doubts.
- Paride’s Hall
- The hall is part of the architectural inclusions decided by Giovanni Andrea I Doria and qualified in a single decorative stucco cycle between 1590 and 1599 by Marcello Sparzo from Urbino. The theme of the vault, destroyed during the bombings of 1944 was “private” and loving: here is represented the judgment of Paride. This choice is probably linked to the celebrations for the marriage between the first born child of Doria, Andrea II and Giovanna Colonna in 1594. Overhanging the doorway as was indicated in an inventory of the XVIII century, are located tre wonderful canvases painted by Domenico Piola in 1671 to celebrate the union between Giovanni Andrea III Doria and Anna Pamphilj. Surrounding the Doria’s heraldic eagle, main character of the scene, you can catch a sight of little angels holding the emblems of arts of music and war, symbols of the patronal value of the lineage.
- Ercole’s Hall
- Ercole’s Hall and the adjacent hall of Paride, both added by Giovanni Andrea I Doria, were the first rooms to be decorated by Marcello Sparzo and from his team of co-workers ( in which, at the actual state of reasearch, can be only connected the stucco master Stefano Storace)., that later on decorated the Galleria Aurea. The central part of the vault, destroyed during the war in 1944 but documented by historical pictures, showed a theme rarelly represented in the decorations of renaissance dwellings: The wedding banquet and the dispatch of the Centaurus Euritione by the hand of Ercole. The narration of the adventures of the hero continued in the eight rectangular panels inserted in the fanlights and in the peducci were his famous twelve efforts were represented. At the moment the hall is set up as a dining room.