The 16th century Palazzo Barbaja in the Via Toledo in Naples received a neoclassicist make-over in the 18th century. It is named for Domenico Barbaja, a theatre producer who lived there in the 19th century. The composer Rossini also spent some time in the palazzo, which is now privately owned and has lost much of its splendour.
Palazzo Barbaja Naples
Address: Via Toledo, 205 – Napoli. Opening hours and admission: The palace is pivate property and not open to tourists.
History and description
Although the Palazzo Barbaja was built in the 16th century, it is named for Domenico Barbaja, who owned it in the 19th century and lived there till he died in 1841. Barbaja was born in Milan and had quite an interesting life. Apart from being the impresario of the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, he was also credited with inventing, still in Milan, the first cappuccino. In Milan he owned a chain of coffee houses and ran the gambling operation of the Teatro della Scala. During the Napoleonic wars he bought and sold ammunition.
While running the Teatro San Carlo he was supposed to have virtually locked Rossini into the Palazzo Baraja, when the latter did not finish one of the works he had been commissioned for quickly enough.
At the time the building included spaces for concerts and some caves that were dug out into the tuff stone walls behind it. One of these caves can be seen in a painting titled “Dining room of the Barbaja” in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Nowadays the building is a simple condominium and little is left of its original beauty. From the adjacent Santa Maria del Parto Church it is possible to see the loggia’s of the interior courtyard.