The Garden history

The garden of Andrea Doria

Andrea endowed his residence with splendid gardens. The creation of the “amenissimi giardini” that welcomed Carlo V during his stay at the Villa (1533) is probably linked to the work of Perino del Vaga. The definition of the courtyard in front of the south façade of the villa, divided into three spaces by the orthogonal arms of the terraced portico, according to the model of the Hellenistic-Roman maritime villas, belongs to this first arrangement. The fountain “of the Dolphins” has survived from this phase. Andrea then entrusted the Florentine Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli with the task of making “new additions of fabric and beautiful gardens”; the Triton Fountain is evidence of the sculptor’s intervention. Behind the palace, the hill of Granarolo began to be transformed into a system of overlapping terraces, with neat flowerbeds and groves.

The garden of Giovanni Andrea I

It was Giovanni Andrea I, with the help of his architect Giovanni Ponzello, who created the definitive physiognomy of the monumental complex. At the end of the 16th century, the seaside garden appeared as a large space articulated in geometric shapes around the central pivot of the Neptune Fountain. Two architectures of “delight” struck the visitors: the great birdcage, which in its ornate iron structure, about a hundred metres long, housed thousands of birds appreciated for their beauty or song, and the grotto – still existing today – covered with mosaics.
The cornerstones of the design of the garden created at the time of Giovanni Andrea proved to be very resistant over the centuries: while the decorative solutions of the flowerbeds changed several times, the general layout was not substantially modified until the mid-19th century.

The 19th century garden and the restoration

In the 1850s, Prince Filippo Andrea V transformed the Garden by the Sea into a small English-style park in the Romantic style: the existing symmetrical axes were removed and sinuous paths and groves were preferred. During the Second World War, bombings caused considerable destruction. The seaside garden has recently been restored (the central part of the project was completed in 1998-2000), with the aim of re-proposing the late 16th-century layout, which is better documented than the phase of the first half of the century and consistent with the architecture of the villa. For the selection of the plants too, the fundamental criterion was historical characterisation, aimed at evoking the horticultural arrangements of the period. The selection favours plants and combinations typical of that period, such as the association of flowering species with aromatic plants (roses with myrtle, rosemary with carnations) and includes species imported in the 16th century from the New World.