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main index   ©; Jeff Matthews   entry Feb 2008

Palazzo Sirignano


No doubt it will be some time before residents of the Chiaia section of Naples start calling Palazzo Sirignano by its new name, the “Tirrenia” building, or something like that. After all, it has always been Palazzo Sirignano. That ”always” goes back to the year it was built, 1535, when the new Spanish nobility in their new vice-realm of Naples started to build out to the west along the Riviera di Chiaia and what was then the seaside. (The more recent Villa Comunale and the road, via Caracciolo, now stand between the older thoroughfare and the water.
(But see this 2014 update. Tirennia has moved.)

Some sources claim that Palazzo Sirignano was, indeed, the first Spanish villa along the Riviera di Chiaia to be completed. The year 1535 is early enough to make that claim plausible. Thus, the large Palazzo Satriano—a few hundreds meters to the east (to right in this photo) at the very beginning of the Riviera di Chiaia—from 1605, even though it is placed first in a long row of impressive buildings stretching towards Mergellina, is somewhat of a late-comer.

The great viceroy, Pedro de Toledo, authorized the construction of Palazzo Sirignano for one Don Ferdinando Alarcon, Marquis of the Valle and captain of the Spanish army. The original building was in Renaissance style with the main entrance facing the shoreline, and a quadrangular tower for the defense of the building and surrounding area against attacks by Saracen pirates. The building remained substantially unchanged until the Bourbon dynasty took over the kingdom of Naples in the 1700s; further changes were made after 1889, the year in which ownership of the building passed to Prince Caravita di Sirignano, whose name the villa still bears in popular usage. The changes were radical and involved the complete restructuring of the exterior in a Neo-Renaissance style and changes to much of the interior.

The building was sold in 1917 to the Tirrenia Navigation company, which did some needed renovation; since 1937 Palazzo Sirignano has been the headquarters of that company in Naples. The eye of the casual passer-by is more likely to be caught by the adjacent and opulent neo-Classical Villa Pignatelli; yet, Palazzo Sirignano is worth a look and a visit; the Tirrenia company also maintains a public art gallery on the premises.


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