The Palazzo Balbi Senerega has housed the University of Genoa’s Faculty of Arts & Philosophy since 1972. I recently visited the library and other parts of the building during one of the city’s “Rolli Day” open weekends.
Begun in 1618 and extended in 1645 it houses a stunning sequence of decorative frescoes by Valerio Castello, Domenico Piola and Gregorio De Ferrari covering the myth of Proserpine and other Greek myths which link the closed and open spaces in a fluid space where nature and buildings relate to each other.
In the Library areas there is a mix of standard and low-level shelving in order to maximise visibility of key features, free-standing bookcases around the walls. There were not many OPACs or open access PCs on view, but I was told that despite the thickness of some of the walls the wifi signal is quite good.
It was touching to see how proud the students who showed us around were of their building, how keen they were to publicise Genoa’s heritage.
For those interested to know more about the building, the Wikipedia article is quite comprehensive.
Report by Chris Smart | London Metropolitan University