The Coppedè Brothers in “ fin de siècle” Genoa

Genoa is a city to be enjoyed like a rose which, petal after petal, reveals surprising aspects: true architectural gems that pass almost unrecognised before our eyes.

In Genoa, one can find many examples of Liberty and Art Nouveau palaces and decorations, but few people know that the Coppedè brothers are the architects of some of Genoa’s villas and palaces, which stand out for their peculiar style and which can be discovered through a “ fin de siècle” itinerary.

In front of the Maritime Station, departure point of the great ocean liners of the early 1900s, you can see behind the Palazzo del Principe the Grand Hotel Miramare, now converted into flats and clearly identified by the still visible sign. It was built by Gino Coppedè in the early 1900s and its halls hosted many parties.

It is an easy walk from here to Via Cairoli, where, among the UNESCO-protected ancient palaces, there is Palazzo della Meridiana: its halls were redecorated in the early 1900s according to a design by the Coppedè Brothers, when this palace was home to the offices of the Scottish insurer Evan Mckenzie, who also had McKenzie Castle built by the brothers.

Continuing towards the centre, opposite the splendid fountain in Piazza De Ferrari, you will find the Palazzo della Borsa, where you can visit some rooms superbly decorated by Adolfo Coppedè. The palace is located in front of the long Via XX Settembre, which is a wonderful example of Art Nouveau: all you have to do is look up and be fascinated by the splendid structures and then go as far as Via Maragliano at number 2, to find Palazzo Zuccarino, built by Gino Coppedè in the first decade of the 20th century.

If, on the other hand, you want to breathe some sea air, just go to corso Italia, the Genoese promenade where you will find Villa Canali, another splendid work of the Coppedè family, now home to the Gaslini Foundation.

At the end of the seafront promenade is the colourful village of Boccadasse with its tangle of creuze and alleyways. Here, too, the Coppedès have left their mark with the Turcke Castle on Via al Capo Santa Chiara 24B, immediately visible from the belvedere overlooking the sea before reaching it.

And finally Coppedè’s greatest work: the MacKenzie Castle in the Manin area, now owned by the Cambi auction house. Described as a “king’s whim”, it stands out for its crenellations, criss-crossing staircases, wrought iron: it feels like entering Escher’s world, a world where fantasy has no end, outside as well as inside, where natural elements seamlessly join the human handiwork.