The Balilla Monument and the Liberation

Archival research never bores and, indeed, very often, surprises; this is the case of a study carried out in the Municipality's Historical Archive, on the occasion of the restoration promoted and supported by the A Compagna Association (December 2013) of the famous statue of the "Balilla", which is on display in “Portoria”, in front of the Court.

Made by Vincenzo Giani, a pupil of the sculptor Vela, the statue was cast in Turin in 1862 with the bronze of cannons taken from the Austrians in the battles of 1859. On April 25, 1863 it was delivered to the Municipality of Genoa and placed in the atrium of Palazzo Tursi, where it was inaugurated on June 7; the following September it was transferred to Portoria.

In 1881, on the occasion of the centenary of Balilla's death, the base was enlarged and protected by a gate (inauguration: October 2, 1881).

Removed and placed in storage in the Doge's Palace during the Second World War, the statue was repositioned on the base in Portoria on April 26, 1945, as attested by a letter from Orlando Grosso, then director of the Municipality's Fine Arts Office (Orlando Grosso) to the Mayor. of Genoa (Vannuccio Faralli), the text of which is reported below:

From the Fine Arts Office to the Mayor of Genoa, on April 26, 1945 URGENT

I am pleased to communicate to S.V. that following my verbal communication yesterday, in which I made it known that a group of patriots from Portoria requested the return of the Balilla statue, transferred as a precautionary measure to Palazzo Ducale, and in relation to the provisions made, I proceeded to return the statue. With the escort of officials of this office, two city policemen and with the help of workers from the municipal workshop, the statue, placed on a handcart and taken following the itineraries of Piazza Umberto I, Via XX Settembre, Portoria, was brought back to Pammatone among the enthusiasm of the crowd and placed back on its pedestal. Since there were no pins to secure the sculpture to the pedestal, I gave orders to the Ortelli company - which at the time had removed it - to arrange for them. The director Grosso.

 V ° the Secretary General.

The press release followed:

Yesterday morning, 26th current, by the Civic Administration and with the intervention of the Partisans of Portoria, the statue of Balilla was returned its pedestal in Piazza Pammatone among the emotional enthusiasm of the population.

On the occasion of the construction of the Court in Pammatone, in 1959, the monument was again removed and placed in Palazzo Tursi. On 5 December 1973 it was relocated to Portoria ("Piccapietra" in the documents)