The Department of Architecture and design of the Polytechnic School of the University of Genoa is situated on Castle Hill (“Collina di Castello”), in the heart of the old town. Facing the natural inlet of the pre-roman port, the hill was the site of the first historical settlement of Genoa, and is characterized by the stratification of a number of transformations from the middle ages to the present day. Numerous traces remain of this rich history, partly above and mostly below ground. War damages and the subsequent abandonment of the area fostered the start and the systematic continuation of archeological campaigns.
The hill hosted a fortification (“oppidum”, V century b.C.) in defence of the Genoa landing, which subsequently became a walled town and the seat of the "Compagna Communis” (the name of the medieval territorial organization of Genoa) in 1099. Owing to its form and location “Castello” belonged first to the powerful Embriaci family, then to the Bishop and, finally, to several religious communities that erected various monastery and convent buildings. Between the 17th and 18th century, the complex historical events of the city led to a progressive decay and oblivion of the area. Following the expropriations on the part of the democratic Republic (1789) and of the Italian Kingdom (1861), the vast religious complexes were destined to welfare initiatives, contributing to the exclusion of the hill form the urban expansions of the 19th century.
Starting from the sixties of the 20th century, a number of archeological investigations were carried out in the S. Silvestro area, looking for traces of the most ancient human settlement that gave origin to the town (the Ligurian-Etruscan “oppidum”). Some of the methodologies employed constituted part of the first experiences of archeological investigation of monuments, which greatly influenced architectural and urban studies and showed important potential applications in restoration.