Paganini's Genoa

Discover the city of Genoa through the places of the story of Niccolò Paganini: an itinerary of eleven milestones between music and history


In order to clearly recognize every milestone, a brass plaque has been placed on each of the eleven points of interest. On the plaque the signature of Niccolò Paganini has been engraved together with a short text that tells the story of the episode related to the place.
We thank the "Amici di Paganini" association, that promoted the initiative in collaboration with Regione Liguria and the Municipality of Genoa, for giving us the materials to realize the itinerary.
It starts from the Falcone Theatre, located in Palazzo Reale. The theatre was the first Genoese stage and started its representation around 1645. It was born from the transformation of the "Hostaria sub signu Falconis" where there had been various shows as it was common in ancient taverns since the second half of the 16th century.
This place underwent many changes during history and was badly damaged in the Second World War. It was refubirshed in the Fifties and the Seventies and finally restored in 2004, the year of Genova Capitale Europea della Cultura. Today it is used as an exhibition space.
In the Falcone theatre, Niccolò Paganini performed on November 9th in 1827 as king Carlo Felice and his family attended the event.
The second milestone brings us to the church and the oratory of San Filippo in via Lomellini. Here Niccolò Paganini performed solo for the first time in Genoa in May 26th in 1794. The festival held in the name of San FIlippo was celebrated with great solemnity and the believers listened to the 11 years old violinist performing a harmonious concert, which was repeated the following year.
Going up via Cairoli, we end in via Garibaldi where, inside Palazzo Tursi, we can find the Sala Paganiniana, a part of the Musei di Strada Nuova itinerary. Here you can find the famous violin created by Guarneri del Gesù in 1743. Paganini loved this violin more than any other instrument and named it “my cannon violin” because of the power of its sound. Today you can admire the “Cannone” almost in the same conditions as it was when it was delivered to the city of Genoa in 1851, as indicated in Paganini’s will. In the room, together with the original accessories of the “Cannone”, many other memorabilia are displayed. Among them, there is the “Vuillaume” violin, that the musician gave to his favourite, Camillo Sivori, but also autographed letters, scores, such as la Carmagnola, and many other objects which belonged to Paganini.
In the Chiesa di Nostra Signora delle Vigne on December 1st in 1794, Niccolò Paganini performed for the festival of Sant’Eligio, the protector of one of the most important association of the crafts of the city, the “Università degli Orefici”. At the age of 12, he performed for the public for the second time and left everyone amazed with his skills.
Another important point of interest is the Carlo Felice Theatre, where Niccolò Paganini performed on November 30th in 1834 for the first time. Among other pieces, he performed a variation of “Nel cor più non mi sento” and Il Carnevale di Venezia.
The theatre will welcome Paganini once more on December 5th of the same year and the proceeds of the concert were donated to poor families.
The building that today is the Court before the Second World War was Palazzo Pammattone, the Civil hospital, which dates back to 1422 and was reconstructed in 1758. Between 1966 and 1974 the Municipality of Genoa built on the same ground the Court, saving the 18th century courtyard and the monumental columns of the old hospital. On August 27th in 1835 Paganini goes to the hospital with his son Achille to visit the patients affected by cholera.

Going back to De Ferrari we find Palazzo Ducale and the Grimaldina Tower. Here Paganini was detained since may 1815 after being reported for the rape and seduction of Angiolina Cavanna, a young woman with whom he had lived and who gave birth to his dead baby daughter.
On January 2nd in 1835 Paganini comes back to Palazzo Ducale, but this time to perform at the reception organized by the governor of Genoa, Count Filippo Paolucci.
The Chiesa di San Donato guards the first document related to Niccolò Paganini who was born on October 27th in 1782 in Via delle Fosse del Colle n.1359 (which later became Passo di Gattamora 58), son of Antonio and Teresa Bocciardo, and was baptized the day after in the Chiesa di San Salvatore in Piazza Sarzano (that later became the Aula Magna of the Architecture Faculty).
In his birthplace, destroyed during the urban reconstruction in 1970, young Niccolò learned from his father the first secrets of music and learned to play the mandolin and the violin.
In front of the Chiesa di Sant'Agostino today you can fin the Teatro della Tosse, but in Paganini’s time there was the Genoese most famous stage of all: the Sant'Agostino Theatre.
Niccolò Paganini he held his first public academy in the Sant'Agostino Theatre on July 31st in 1795, when he performed “Carmagnola con variazioni” for the first time.
Finally in July 28th in 1835, in the garden of the small villa of the Marquise Gian Carlo di Negro the marble bust of the musician by the sculptor Paolo Olivari was inaugurated with a sumptuous feast.

In the Museums of Nervi, the Gallery of Modern Art displays, in the permanent collections of the ground floor, two well-known portraits of the famous violinist whick were executed when the musician was alive by Giuseppe Isola (Genoa, 1808 - 1893), in 1836 (donated to the Municipality of Genoa by the painter himself in 1869), and by Pelagio Palagi (Bologna 1775 - Turin 1860), around 1815.

We also suggest visiting the Casa Paganini, located in the restored monastic complex of Santa Maria delle Grazie la Nuova chosen by the Amici di Paganini association to be remembered as the “home of Paganini”, after his native home was destroyed in the Seventies.
The Casa Paganini  was born after the restoration of the Santa Maria delle Grazie la Nuova monastery, in Piazza Santa Maria in Passione on the hill of Castello, where the reevaluation of the Historic Centre began between 1980 and 1990.
The restoration underlined many architectural stratifications, which tell the complex story of the building, testimony of  26 centuries of Genoese history. In 1987 the building was bought by the University of Genoa. Regione Liguria welcomed the rquests of the Amici di Paganini association, that wanted to give back a home to Paganini, and chose to began the restoration of the site in 1999. In November 2004 the “Casa Paganini” was inaugurated and later became the Centro Internazionale di Eccellenza, InfoMusLab, managed by the University of Genoa.

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