The Via San Luca, which owes its name to the Chiesa di San Luca, is one of the busiest shopping streets of Genoa. The street runs more or less parallel to the coast line, from the Piazza Banchi to the Via di Fossatello and the Via San Siro. Although rather narrow, the Via San Luca is lined by tall, lavishly ornamented, historical buildings.
Via San Luca Genoa
History and description
The origins of what is now the Via San Luca are very old. Even when this part of the city was still countryside, it already formed the main road out of the city, towards what is now called the Riviera di Ponente (basically the coastline from the north-eastern part of Genoa, all the way to the French border). It also led to the beginning of the Roman consular road to Aquilea, known as Via Postumia.
Later, when the coastal road was known as Ripa, what is now the Via San Luca used to be called Ripa Alta. In 1155, the city wall separating the two streets was constructed.
The present layout of the Via San Luca dates back to the 12th century. The Spinola and Grimaldi families built their first palaces. The constructions were characterized by porticoes and loggias, traces of which are still visible in some of the buildings. In subsequent centuries more buildings were added, many containing the typical Genovese atriums and monumental staircases.
The Via San Luca now
The Via San Luca, which in some stretches is extremely narrow, is a major shopping street. Traces of its old splendor can still be seen in the, albeit often almost faded, frescoes on its walls, the ornate balconies and especially, the beautiful entrances to its palazzi.
What to see
The main attraction of the street is the San Luca Church. Both the Grimaldi and the Spinola families were involved in its construction, the former owning the grounds, the latter founding the actual church. Built toward the end of the 12th century, the church owes its present Baroque architecture to a 17th century renovation. A highlight of this church is the “Natività” by il Grecchetto (1645).
The gate at the end of the street is the Porta dei Vacca. This gate used to be the western entrance to the city.