An Italian Villa of Treasures Opens Its Doors (By Roderick Conway Morris from New York Times)

GENOA — Andrea Doria was born in 1466 in Liguria, in northwestern Italy, of a patrician family, but in somewhat reduced circumstances. He began his career in the ranks of the papal guard and he went on to serve as a soldier of fortune in Urbino and Naples. He was well into his forties when he took to the seas, yet he became the most famous admiral in Christendom, one of the wealthiest men in Italy and one of the most lavish patrons of the arts. He captained his fleet of galleys — in the service of France, the Spanish emperor, the Papacy and the Republic of Genoa — well into old age (he died in 1560). But he left on land a fine monument to himself, further extended and embellished by his descendants: the Villa del Principe at Fassolo to the west of Genoa’s ancient city walls. During his lifetime the Villa del Principe (Doria acquired the title of prince along with the fiefdom of Melfi in 1531) was a haven of tranquillity. When in residence the admiral could gaze on his fleet riding at anchor at the end of the villa’s formal gardens. But later the villa and gardens became a battleground, bombarded by artillery and overrun by Piemontese government troops fighting the Genoese uprising of 1849, then again heavily bombed by the Allies in 1944, who erroneously believed the villa housed the German high command….. READ MORE ON NEW YORK TIMES

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