Loggia of the heroes

Loggia of the Heroes

The Loggia of the Heroes has five arches which originally looked out onto the gardens below and towards the sea. The Loggia of the Heroes led to Andrea Doria’s apartments in the west wing and to his wife Peretta Usodimare’s apartments in the east wing; it is the only room in the Villa with decorated walls.

The frescoes and stuccoes of the Loggia of the Heroes convey the Villas’s most explicit message of dynastic exaltation. The walls bear images of twelve warriors dressed in ancient Roman clothes (except one, who wears modern armour), who are easily recognizable as members of the Doria family because of their shields with the family crest: a black eagle on a gold and silver ground. They are specifically identified as heroes of the family by the inscription above them: PRAECLARAE FAMILIAE MAGNI VIRI MAXIMI DUCES OPTIMA FECERE PRO PATRIA (“The great men of this illustrious family, supreme leaders, achieved admirable feats for their country”). The Heroes are inspired by noble figures of the time, like Michelangelo’s statues of the Dukes in the Medici Chapels in Florence, and interact with each other in a rhythmic sequence of gestures that stand out as one of Perino del Vaga’s most original inventions.

The five vaults of the loggia show classical examples of Roman patriotism in octagonal frames surrounded by beautifully refined stuccoes; the well-known episodes of self-sacrifice for the love of one’s country represent Horatius Cocles, Titus Manlius Torquatus, Marcus Curtius, Furius Camillus and Mucius Scaevola. The parallel between ancient and modern lives, following the example of Plutarch, leads visitors to a specific conclusion: like the celebrated heroes of ancient Rome, so the great men of the Doria family, ancestors of Andrea, are meritorious saviours of their homeland.

The exuberance of the stuccoes that decorate the vaults reflect the ancient examples found in Nero’s Domus Aurea.