Palazzo Gerolamo Grimaldi is one of the 42 “Rolli”, Genoa’s historical buildings that were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2006; it was built between 1536 and 1544 by one of the city’s bankers, Gerolamo Grimaldi Oliva.
Now a renowned historical home, it is also known as “Palace of the sundial” obviously due to the sundial painted on its façade. The structure is a summation of the architectural and urban evolution that Genoa experienced in the 1500s, which culminated with the construction of the “Strada Nuova” – “New Road”, now Via Garibaldi – and the houses alongside it.
Inside Palazzo Grimaldi there are a number of beautiful rooms with fine frescoes, painted by Lazzaro Calvi, Luca Cambiaso and Giovanni Battista Castello for Giovanni, Gerolamo’s son, who also owned Villa Grimaldi – known as “La Fortezza”, “the Fortress” – in Sampierdarena.
Today, the building looks radically different compared to the 16th century. At the time, it was surrounded by gardens and alternated indoor and outdoor spaces creating a unique combination and light and shade. The perspective view of the entrance portico was exceptionally beautiful, as it framed the garden with its nymphaeum, mechanical figures and water features.
To this day, the effects of the restoration by Florentine architect Gino Coppedè are visible: he had been hired in the early 20th century by Evan Mackenzie, who represented Lloyd’s of London in the Ligurian capital and wanted to turn the palace into office space. A glass roof was built over the courtyard, with colorful panes decorated with symbols of Venice, Rome and Turin; the grand staircase and the “grotesques” on the vault ceilings were also decorated; and the rooms, frescoed centuries earlier, were restored.
In 1915, Palazzo Grimaldi was converted into a military hospital and later became the headquarters of public institutions. In 2004, it was purchased by Palazzo Meridiana srl, which invested in its conservative restoration and made it a space open to exhibitions, cultural initiatives and events.
Palazzo Gerolamo Grimaldi, or “Palace of the sundial”
Piazza della Meridiana, 1 – Salita di S. Francesco, 4