When you happen to be in Genova, and you’re interested in art and culture, you probably will search Pinterest (I started my search there), Trivago or Google (I used all three of them, in this particular order.) And when you search for interesting museums in Genova, you’ll probably find that most of the interesting art-museums are in the Nervi district, and not in the city center.
Since I was in the city center, and had no clue whatsoever to go to, I let my son decide were we would go: I gave him the following options: a museum on paintings, a museum on oriental art, a palace, or a castle. He chose the castle. So we went to ‘dAlbertis castle; about a kilometre from the Piazza Principe trainstation.
Reachable by public transport
My son and I went walking to the castle. That might not be something I would recommand for everyone, since Genova is famous for it’s steep streets and alleys. Albertis castle is up hill. ‘Why?’ my son asked,.. ‘well,.. every castle should be up a hill; otherwise you can’t defend it proparly’, was my reply. That’s obvious, even for a boy who grew up in a country lacking everything looking like mountains. What I did not tell, is that the castle is not much older than 125 years, so when it was built, there no longer was the need to defend castles by building them up hill.
So if you don’t want to walk up a (small) hill and climb steep alleys; you also can get to the castle by bus. The bus stops right in front of the entrance. Convenient: right? So: why did I still only gave 3 out of 5 stars for being reachable by public transport? Well: that’s because the entrance only gives access to the castle garden,.. which holds a beautiful, but steep road towards the castle itself.
When we were in the castle, we constantly were walking behind another couple from Asia, and they were taking pictures of everything, so we had to take turns on when to enter a small room, like the captain’s cabin (yes, there was a captain’s cabin in this castle). Having to wait your turn in order to see something might feel like there are a lot of people in the museum, but in fact, there weren’t. (So you might call us stupid for not taking another route than the Asian couple did.)
Interesting works of art
There wasn’t much art in the castle. Only the first room, with an temporary exhibition, contained something you could call art: All the drawings of the castle’s childrens book were exhibited there. The book was about the life of Luigi Maria d’Albertis, which is the guy who built the castle. This Luigi d’Albertis was an adventurer; he travelled the world and collected a lot of cultural heritage, which all is displayed in the museum. To me, the most interesting works of art were not the displayed artifacts, but the creative way they were presented. I’ve seen many museums who just display jewelry on a plain buste or even on pluche. But this museum had terracotta bustes made to present the jewelry. A lot of the other pieces also were displayed in an extraordinary way: In a wall, or behind semi-horizontal windows, as you can see in the picture. I really admire the creativity of the stylist they hired to design the exhibition.
Great for learning
At the museum you could learn about the life of Luigi Maria d’Albertis, and about the cultures he had ‘stolen’ from (or might have just bought their goods for a fairly good price; I probably should not make assumptions here). But it was minimal.
In fact: I did not learn a thing about these exotic cultures during my visit at the museum, but that might be because I don’t speak Italian, and most of the information given next to the artifacts was in Italian.
And next to that: how much could you really learn from just watching some exotic object? Even if there’s information given about what it is, and where it is from. You still don’t have the experience of the object being used, and you certainly don’t know anything about the value of the object to the people who made it.
For a museum it always is recommended to think about all those poor ADHD children who are dragged along with their parents to visit some boring castle. Children usually get very annoyed when there’s nothing to do: When there’s only walking,… watching,.. reading,.. kids can get very offensive. This museum had thought about that (like I said: they have a wonderful curator at work there). So this museum had some exotic musical instruments displayed, which actually was something you could touch!! And when you did; it made sound! Awesome: right?
In spite of the great inventive way of presenting the exhibited pieces; there really wasn’t anything that made me feel excited, or feel the need to create something. I did not get any inspiration from the beautifully decorated 18th century room, and neither the tapestries in the Indian room would make me feel a spark of wonder. It, of course, could be just me, (or the annoyed child I dragged with me) but the subject of the exhibition seemed to be going wild. By that I mean that the collection was a gallimaufri of weapons, jewelry, furniture, pots, and other archeological findings, and I just was too busy seeking a thread connecting it all.
Accessible for the disabled
When you’re disabled, and you want to go to the d’Albertis castle, there is a special mobility service,… but: in order to find the service: you need to understand Italian. Also: if you want to enter the building, and bridge the steps: there is a personal assistent who is willing to help. But: you probably only need to be able to speak Italian to ask for this assistence.
I honestly don’t know. I did not test them, was not able to speak to them; they did not bother me.
Take the kids with you
Take them with you to see the beautiful view from the garden. You can see the city from above and they will love it. But don’t take drag them along with you into the castle. (Especially not if it is the second museum you’re taking them to.) I tried to do so, but ended up in almost losing my smartphone, because my son was tired of me taking pictures all the time. He just wanted to go and leave the castle, so he knocked the phone out of my hands (I was taking pictures with my phone).
The museum did make an effort to entertain the children though. They not only had musical instruments for them to play on, but you also could find a small (cardboard) portrait of Luigi Maria d’Albertis in several rooms, indicating that there probably was a scavenger hunt for children.