As it acted as a secret jail, the tower was also the site of privileged detention for renowned prisoners. We have information about the imprisonment in the 16th century of the cruel Saracen pirate Dragut, the fierce Andrea Doria’s enemy at sea.
However, it is in the 17th century that we find a crowd of famous prisoners, above all painters. We know that in that period the competition between the different workshops could be deep, and very often their members resorted to violence. Several well-known painters such as Ansaldo, Fiasella and Borzone went to prison, all of them charged with “scuffle and injuring”.
Some foreigners, too, became acquainted with the dungeons’ hard life: Pietre Mulier, called “Tempesta”, was imprisoned as he ordered the killing of his wife; Sinibaldo Scorza because of “lese-majesty”, that is to say, he betrayed his country when he cooperated with Genoa’s enemy, Emanuele di Savoia.
Nowadays, we can still find frescos in the interiors that can be traced back to those artists.
In the 17th century, it housed the conspirators Giulio Cesare Vacchero in 1612 and Stefano Raggio in 1650.
In the 19th century, it was the turn of Nicolò Paganini, arrested on the charge of kidnapping a minor, and also the patriot Jacopo Ruffini who, because of organising political rebellions in Genoa and Alessandria, remained in jail for two months and after that killed himself.
La Cella degli ‘artisti’
Particolare della mongolfiera presente nella Cella degli ‘artisti’