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The Charming Mountain Goat…is grazing in Genova

February 7th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Charming Mountain Goat, Travel Writing

Domenico Parodi’s allegoric painting on the ceiling of the Salotto del Tempo (Room of Time) at the Palazzo Reale in Genoa portrays the young and attractive Truth unveiled by the wise old man Time, while the Lie – unmasked and horrified – is seen fleeing in the corner of the ceiling.

The Palazzo Reale was built by the Balbi family, Genovese merchants who later moved into banking and became vastly rich and influential not only in the Ligurian capital, but also in Milan.

While the palace is famed for its art and architecture, it is interesting to note that the spirit of the nouveau riche lingers gently in the vast rooms of the Royal Palace. Even three hundred years after their departure.

The Balbi showed off by cramming their rooms full of paintings, objects and books. In the dining room, rather than flicking their iPhone open between courses and showing photos of their other possessions, they painted their other house straight on the wall. How pragmatic and intimidating: “See, this is how rich I am!!”

When Signor Balbi commissioned Domenico Parodi’s painting, was he aware of the irony?

Today, the bacillus of wanting things has been spread further to infect more people and penetrate all social structures. And most people are frustrated for life; those who can’t have and those who have too much. Genoa itself seems to be its most fitting monument to the futility of riches. Its faded glory is ingloriously decayed and tacky.

“Consumerism consumes you,” wrote an unknown person on the ancient wall on one of the many dilapidated houses in Genoa’s old town. It was one of the few snapshots we brought home.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Giorgio Balbi // Aug 3, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    See, ‘Genoa old town’ has always been somehow ‘dilapidated’. How can our beloved caruggi (which roughly stands for ‘alleys’), placed near the old docks and home to the middle/working class for centuries, can be ever compared to Palazzo Reale? It’s just unnatural and unfair, as it would be for any city in the world! Mind that many apartments in the ‘old town’ albeit looking poor on the surface, are often quite big on the interiors (spacious ceilings is a common trair), and rents aren’t cheap in any way. And i wouldn’t call that wall ‘ancient’, at least not for Genoa’s standards. Heck. Tourists.

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