By Jennifer D. Webb

Galeazzo Alessi was born in 1512 and died on December 30, 1572. Over the course of his architectural career Alessi helped transform the urban fabric of Perugia and Genoa serving as an urban designer and builder.

Alessi trained with Giovan Battista Caporali whose edition of Vitruvius references musical theory. His time with Caporali seems to have laid the foundation for a career-long preference for classical architectural forms that he frequently combined with design principles influenced by the work of Michelangelo and Bramante. He is also admired for his “sumptuous detail.”

By 1536, Alessi was at the papal court in Rome where he observed first-hand the transformation of the Catholic capital. His connections in Rome led him to Perugia where we worked on a number of projects including Santa Maria del Popolo, the design for the convent of  Santa Guiliana, and the facade of the Palazzo dei Priori that faces onto Via del Corso.

Professional connections also paved the way for his move to Genoa in 1548. There he completed Santa Maria Assunta di Carignano as well as redesigned the urban layout of the neighborhood around the church.

Alessi likely contributed to the lay-out of Via Garibaldi (then the Strada Nuova), that you see here as well as designed a number of the palaces facing onto the street.

His first project in Genoa was the Villa Guistiani at Albaro which sits atop a hill and is characteristic of Alessi’s synthesis of classical forms and High Renaissance ideas. The lower-level loggia is decorated with Doric engaged columns and a Doric frieze while the second story includes Ionic, engaged columns.

Much of Alessi’s work in Genoa was documented by Peter Paul Rubens in his Palazzi of Genova from 1622. The text, compiled by Rubens, includes a number of engraving that illustrate the plans, elevations, and sections of 12 palaces and villas.

References: David Rundle, Ed. Encyclopedia of the Renaissance. Westview Press, 1999.Aurora Scotti Tosini, “Alessi, Galeazzo.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press;  “Basilica Santa Maria Assunta”; Peter Paul Rubens. Palazzi di Genova (Antwerp 1622); Royal Aacademy of Arts, “Palazzi di Genova”


Twice25, Santa Maria Assunta di Carignano (begun 1549-1603), Genova. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

With Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola. Santa Maria degli Angeli. (1569-1679) Assisi. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Twice25 & Rinina25, Palazzo Rosso and Via Garibaldi (formerly the Via Strada Nova), Genova. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Villa Giustiniani at Albaro  (Villa Cambiaso) (1548) Genoa. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Peter Paul Rubens, Plate 57. Palazzi di Genova. Published 1622. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Further Reading: Rubens, Peter Paul. Palazzi di Genova. Genova: Tormena; Lombaerde, L. The Reception of P. P. Rubens’s ‘Palazzi di Genova’ during the 17th Century in Europe: Questions and Problems. Turnhout: Brepols, 2002.

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