farmacia operaia

This chemist’s opened in 1927 with a “licence for the sale of pharmaceutical goods” (issued to Carlo Fissore), in premises that may have been occupied previously by a café and music hall. It has been owned by the Sormani family since 1943. Today Francesco Sormani and his daughter Paola fondly remember the former’s father Guglielmo, well known for his “homemade” flu remedies and digestive aids. This artistic treasure trove is located in the middle of the old quarter, opposite Ripa Maris (the old porticoed street now called Sottoripa) and next to the Palazzo San Giorgio. Access is through an attractive portal with a beautifully carved gable. The furnishing reflects the late Renaissance style that was popular in the 1920s: carvings with a vivid chiaroscuro effect, pilasters with grotesque masks, coats of arms, festoons, floral motifs on the wooden panelling arranged throughout the shop, extending from the black and white marble floor to the arched ceiling. The atmosphere is magical with an array of precious objects on display: ampoules, metal pill cases, apothecary jars, bronze mortars and the celebrated bottle for making seltzer. Starting in the late 19th century the so-called “workers’ pharmacies” were an important means of social cooperation and very common in Italy’s rapidly developing industrial cities. Sormani has an old photograph of the shop that captures its spirit: “Full range of concessions for workers” is the clearly stated message inviting potential customers inside.

Genova, Piazza della Raibetta, 6 R

Tel: +39 0102468811





Under the arch, in the middle of the shop and virtually suspended in mid-air, the old clock is supported by two winged griffins; time has stood still here since 1941, in memory of the World War II bombing victims. In the background the ornately decorated counter is enhanced by an attractive little balustrade.