Aycardi Theatre, a small 19th-century jewel in the heart of the Borgo
A sober façade painted in mock architectural style on the curved front of Aycardi Square in Finalborgo conceals the Aycardi Theatre, the oldest preserved 19th-century theatre in Liguria. It is a small jewel, an expression of the flourishing social and cultural life that animated the Borgo in the 19th century.
The theatre was built in the midst of the Napoleonic and Jacobean era thanks to a private initiative supported by local citizens between 1804 and 1806. It was built inside the Oratory of the Scolopi Fathers attached to the Istituto delle Pious Schools (Institute of the Pious Schools), erected in 1759 on the bequest of Giovanni Andrea Aycardi and suppressed in 1798 by the anticlerical laws of the Ligurian Republic.
The theatre underwent a first restoration in 1818-1819, supported by a public subscription, after a fire had destroyed the interior furnishings.
It was handed over to the Finalborgo Town Hall in 1832, although the main families of the Borgo retained ownership of the boxes, and its activities continued regularly until 1850, hosting theatre companies, operas and musical concerts organised by the Philharmonic Society.
After a last performance of Rigoletto in 1886, a period of crisis led to a temporary halt in opera performances.
In 1936, the theatre underwent further restoration work, to which we owe the repainting of the balustrades of the boxes, with garlands and medallions recalling glories and monuments of Finale, as well as reminders of the Fascist era. After a fleeting resumption of the Philharmonic's activities in the period following the end of the Second World War and its use for galas and film screenings, the theatre was permanently closed in 1965 for security reasons.
The small space, designed to hold about 250 spectators, consists of an elliptical stalls cut off by the proscenium, according to a model characteristic of 18th-century theatres. The stalls are surrounded by two superimposed tiers of boxes divided by masonry pillars and an upper gallery with wooden columns. The curtain is surmounted by a richly crowned coat of arms of the Borgo Community. The soffit of the ceiling is covered by a large painted canvas decorated with medallions and floral motifs.
The theatre has recently undergone restoration and renovation for a forthcoming reopening to the public.