Genoa is a city that combines maritime history with a fascinating urban fabric.
Its historical centre is an intricate tangle of alleys and squares, in which unexpected and unimaginable beauties are hidden.
It is here that you will find the Palazzi dei Rolli, the palaces of the ancient Genoese aristocracy, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2006.
Inside, the huge halls still feature the furniture of the time, and the walls are adorned with works of art and precious frescoes.
The beauty of Genoa’s aristocratic palaces is revealed during the so-called Rolli Days, special days when the palaces open their doors to the public.
Today we take you on a tour of Genoa’s Palazzi dei Rolli, with all the information you need to organise your visit.
Palazzi dei Rolli Genoa: a bit of history
Between 1528 and 1647, the Republic of Genoa became the most powerful financial centre in Europe.
To show off their wealth, the Genoese nobles built Strada Nuova (today’s Via Garibaldi), embellishing its buildings.
From 1576, by a decree of the Senate, it was decided that illustrious guests arriving in the city would be hosted in the buildings of the aristocracy.
The aristocratic palaces were included in lists (rolli) that divided the buildings into categories (bussoli) into which the palaces were placed according to their splendour, size and the importance of the owner within Genoese society.
The more important the family was, the more suitable its palace was to host high offices (cardinals, ambassadors).
Thus were born the Palazzi dei Rolli, sumptuous noble residences that became the symbol of the economic grandeur that the Republic of Genoa experienced between the 16th and 18th centuries.
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Palazzi dei Rolli: what are they and where are they?
There are more than 150 Palazzi dei Rolli in Genoa, known for their architectural magnificence and rich decoration, but only 42 are listed by Unesco.
For the complete list of the Palazzi dei Rolli, I refer you to the official website of the City of Genoa.
To see them all at once is impossible.
Many of them, however, are located along the main streets of the historical centre of Genoa, such as Via Garibaldi and Via Balbi.
Assuming you start your route from Piazza de Ferrari, the advice would be to head down Via Roma to Largo Lanfranco and visit the Palazzo Antonio Doria Spinola, the current Prefecture of Genoa.
From here, you can descend to salita Santa Caterina and arrive in via Garibaldi (Strada Nuova) where you can visit Palazzo Spinola, Palazzo Lomellino, Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco, to name but a few.
You can then go back up to Piazza Fontane Marose and head to Via Balbi where you can visit Palazzo Reale.
The route can then continue in the alleys of Genoa (in piazza di Pellicceria you will find Palazzo Grimaldi and in piazza Campetto Palazzo Imperiale).
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Rolli Days Genoa
What, in short, are Rolli Days?
The Rolli Days are days, organised by the Municipality of Genoa in collaboration with the University of Genoa and the owners of the noble palaces, during which the Palazzi dei Rolli open their doors to the public.
Are the Rolli Days free?
Unless expressly indicated, admission to the Palazzi dei Rolli during the Rolli Days is free.
Places are subject to limited availability and must be booked in advance.
It may be useful to know that each visitor can book a maximum of 4 admissions during the Rolli Days.
How to book admission during the Rolli Days
You can book the entrance to the 4 Palazzi dei Rolli you wish to visit, through the official platform.
After booking, you will receive a confirmation email to show at the entrance of the sites (printed or on your smartphone).
I advise you to check on maps the transfer times from one palace to another, so as to respect the entrance time of the bookings you have made online.
When do the Rolli Days take place?
Generally, the Rolli Days take place every year in spring and autumn (Friday to Sunday).
The dates are variable and can be checked on this site.
Are visits to the Palazzi dei Rolli free or guided?
During the Rolli Days, the Palazzi dei Rolli can be visited freely.
Inside, however, scientific lecturers and students from the University will be able to give you some explanations, completely free of charge.
Alternatively, you can take part in guided tours by appointment.
You can write an e-mail to [email protected]
Rolli Days 2024: tickets and reservations
Exceptionally, for 2024 there will be a winter edition of the Rolli Days, in addition to the fixed appointments in May and October, and will be on 19-20-21 January 2024.
Bookings for the Rolli Days 2024 are now active and can be made on the official platform.
Other information on the Palazzi dei Rolli
It may be useful to know that while some Palazzi dei Rolli are only open to the public twice a year on the occasion of the Rolli Days, others can be visited all year round.
In this case, admission is charged.
Which Palazzi dei Rolli can always be visited?
The Palazzi dei Rolli that can be visited all year round are the following.
- Palazzo Pallavicino Tobia (Chamber of Commerce) in Via Garibaldi, 4
- Palazzo Lomellini Nicolosio in Via Garibaldi, 7
- Palazzo Grimaldi Nicolò or Tursi (Genoa City Council) Via Garibaldi, 9
- Palazzo Grimaldi Luca (Palazzo Bianco) in Via Garibaldi, 11
- Brignole Sale Rodolfo and Francesco (Red Palace) in Via Garibaldi 18
- Palazzo Grimaldi Gerolamo (Palazzo della Meridiana) in Salita S. Francesco, 4
- Palazzo Balbi Stefano (Royal Palace Museum) in Via Balbi, 10
- Palazzo Grimaldi Francesco (National Gallery of Palazzo Spinola) in Piazza Pellicceria, 1.
Entrance ticket to the Palazzi dei Rolli
In order to visit the Palazzi dei Rolli outside the Rolli Days, it may be convenient to purchase the Genova Museum Card: a single ticket, valid for 24 hours, allowing one-time access to the city’s 28 museums, including some of the Palazzi dei Rolli.
In the cost of the Card, AMT public transport is included.
If, during the course of the year, you would like to participate in a guided tour of the Palazzi dei Rolli, outside the Rolli Days, you could rely on the tours offered by GetYourGuide , which are very good and offer free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance.
The beauty of the Palazzi dei Rolli, together with their historical importance, makes Genoa a fascinating place for all history and art lovers.
The Rolli Days are one more opportunity to visit Genoa, its historical centre, and the hidden beauties of its noble palaces.