The garden of Genoa’s Villa del Principe faces a small harbor. Andrea Doria, who had this splendid house built outside the city walls around 1530, wanted to always be connected to the sea. He was the ‘condottiero’ of a free company of seafaring mercenaries, an admiral who put his skills at the service of the best bidder. He had been a precious ally for Francis I of France, Pope Clement VII and then, in 1528, he was hired by Charles V, king of Spain and ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.
Doria often welcomed the Emperor in his beautiful mansion, and delighted his palate with lavish banquets and his eyes with the beauties of his palace, including a stucco and fresco cycle by Perin del Vaga, and paintings by Sebastiano Del Piombo and Il Bronzino.
These are the halls where the alliance between Genoa and Spain gave rise to “El siglo de los Genoveses”: the wealth brought to the city by the economic relations with the Iberian power, which among other things was leading the conquest of the New World, allowed political and cultural development to flourish in the Republic until the age of Napoleon.
Andrea Doria had bet on the sea. And he won.