Monday evening I had the honor of dining at the palace of the Princes of Doria Pamphilj, with no fewer than 6 Michelin-starred chefs. The palace is one of the Doria family's most important treasures that has just undergone a multi-million dollar restoration. A family that's been tinkering around with the historical and artistic heritage of their dynasty over the centuries, and which still happens to be one of the most important and wealthy families in Italy. But fortunately, the latest dynasty also has the realization that they need to preserve/restore this involvement in the future.
The Doria Pamphilj Trust
So in 2013, in a sudden burst of nobility, they created the "Doria Pamphilj Trust." Yes, there are still living descendants of the Doria Pamphilj family, there are still descendants who carry the family name to this day. They are the heirs to the rich historical and cultural heritage that the family has built up over ten centuries.
Marriage of titans
A little more about the Doria Pamphilj family. For centuries, this illustrious lineage has been commanding the spotlight in Italy, emerging from the majestic fusion of two esteemed noble families—the Dorias and the Pamphilis. They epitomize nobility, weaving a captivating tale that spans generations. You know, kind of like the Kardashians marrying the Hiltons, but in the Middle Ages. The Dorias, intrepid sailors from Genoa, fearlessly braved the high seas aboard their mighty ships. They were not just wealthy, but downright formidable—like the "Rockefellers of the Renaissance." With their influential reach, they dabbled in all realms, firmly gripping the realms of politics and commerce.
As my evening unfolds, at the presentation of a new restaurant guide showcasing the Liguria region, I seize the chance to explore the enchanting chambers of Villa Principe palace, delving deeper into the captivating world of this extraordinary family.
Giovanni Andrea Doria (1540-1606), at the ripe age of 50, found himself smitten by the young Anna Pamphilj, a mere 20 years old and the heiress of the opulent Pamphilj dynasty. Naturally, when he popped the question, she probably couldn't refuse (quite literally). Together, they brought six children into this world. As a result of this union, the Doria family was anointed as the Pamphilj heirs in 1760. Yet, when gazing upon their family portraits, one thing stands out like a pair of majestic beacons: substantial noses. A nose for adventure, one might jest!
And thus, with that sacred union, the Doria Pamphilj dynasty was born, a force to be reckoned with. But let's not forget about the Pamphilj side of things. They were no ordinary bunch; their roots were firmly embedded in the heart of Rome, rubbing shoulders with the popes themselves. Among these pontifical connections was Pope Innocent X, a bona fide Pamphilj scion, who wielded his papal power during the illustrious 17th century. As one of the most influential leaders of the Catholic Church, Innocent X propelled the family to new heights of prestige and influence.
Money poured in like an unstoppable torrent, allowing them to acquire palaces as if they were collecting Pokemon cards. The art collections they amassed were the things of dreams, enough to make any art lover drool with envy. Their opulent palaces rivaled the luxurious abodes of Gigi Hadid's clan, albeit with an added dose of rich history and fewer Instagram accounts to distract from their grandeur.
Today, the Doria Pamphilj family remains dedicated to preserving their heritage. That's why they established the Doria Pamphilj Trust, ensuring their art and palaces endure the test of time. A clever move indeed, as nobody wants priceless masterpieces to fade away or majestic palaces to crumble. Such a waste of the family fortune would be unthinkable. They fully comprehend the historical significance they've made and continue to make. And who knows, we might soon witness a noble soap opera chronicling their remarkable adventures, just like the captivating tale of the Borgias.
The palaces of the Doria family
Palazzo Doria Pamphilj in Rome
Naturally, let's start with the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj in Rome. It's a massive palace right in the heart of the city. You can easily get lost in its labyrinthine corridors and halls, housing an unbelievable art collection. Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian—you name it, they've got it!Palazzo Doria Pamphili - Via del Corso, 305, 00186 Roma RM Tel. +39 06 679 7323 - Opening hours: weekdays 9:00-19:00, weekends 10:00-20:00
Villa del Principe in Genoa
The princely palace, Villa del Principe, is located just a stone's throw away from Principe train station in Genoa. One of its most remarkable features is the sprawling estate with terraces, fountains, and lush green gardens—all designed in exquisite Baroque style. Inside the villa, an impressive collection of artworks awaits, showcasing paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects. Masters like Titian, Tintoretto, Van Dyck, and Caravaggio grace its walls.Villa del Principe - Palazzo di Andrea Doria - Piazza del Principe, 4, 16126 Genoa GE - Tel. +39 010255509 - Opening hours: Daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
More Doria Palaces
Of course, there are various other estates and palaces scattered throughout Italy. Take, for example, Villa Aldobrandini in Frascati near Rome, Villa Doria Pamphili located within an immense park in Rome, and Villa Torlonia, also in Rome. You could say they have quite a grip on the Italian real estate market!
The purpose of the Doria Trust
So, what's the deal with this Doria Pamphilj Trust? First and foremost, their mission is to preserve their historic family legacy of artistic treasures. They're all about maintaining the integrity and preservation of these gems, claiming it's even in the nation's cultural interest, where they may actually be right. Secondly, they're not keen on parting with their goodies. They want to hold onto the ownership and management of this treasure trove as a united front, keeping everything intact, like a possessive kid guarding their toys.
So, this Doria Pamphilj Trust is basically an 'inside job' (tongue in cheek), with a mind-boggling collection of priceless artworks and ancient palaces from the sixteenth century. You can check them out at the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj in Rome and now also at Villa del Principe in Genoa. They're not just pretty sights, they're tourist attractions that pay homage to the dynasty's grandeur, all under their watchful eye.
Tavola Doc at Villa del Principe in Genoa
And if that wasn't already enough, they also keep themselves busy renting out the palaces for events like Tavola DOC, where I happened to be on Monday for the unveiling of the new guide to the finest restaurants in the Liguria region. Once again, the stars were shining bright, and by stars, I mean 6 Michelin-starred chefs! These culinary maestros gathered to prepare a feast for around 100 specially invited guests, including the President of the region, Giovanni Toti (a close pal of Berlusconi), and the renowned chef Enrico Derflingher (freshly returned from London, where he had the honor of cooking for the newly crowned king).
It was a dazzling evening of speeches and grandeur held at La Galleria Aurea, located within Villa del Principe in Genoa, the very palace once inhabited by Andrea Doria himself. Sadly, though, it seems Andrea Doria couldn't prevent the palace from facing the ugliest road in all of Italy, despite the presence of the exquisite gardens at its front. Just imagine, mentally photoshopping away that dreary racetrack-like road in front.
Restaurant Guide Liguria
The fourth edition of the guide unveils the crème de la crème of Ligurian dining, featuring 54 restaurants neatly categorized by province, with 6 of them proudly sporting Michelin stars. Each restaurant is presented with valuable information, highlighting their strengths. As the cherry on top, the booklet includes an original recipe from each chef to tantalize your taste buds.