The historic building in which the Permanent Representation of Italy is hosted, as well as the street in which it is located, takes its name from the Empress Josephine, Napoleon’s first wife, who resided there for some years starting in 1811 together with his daughter Hortense.
The construction of the building seems to date back to the fourteenth century, while news dating back to 1538 inform that the property was initially much larger than it is currently: to the north it bordered on Dupuy’s property (later called “Reposoir des Picted”); to the south and west it was bounded by the road from Pregny to Lake Geneva (Chemin de l’Impèratrice), to the east by the Geneva-Versoix road (Route Suisse). It included a house with a barn, stables, attic, garden, vineyards and lawns.
The renovation of the building in its present form took place in the 1700s by Alexandre Sales, who acquired the property in 1751 and transformed it, enhancing both the interior and the location with a splendid view of the lake. In 1811, at the time of purchase by the Empress Josephine, the property included a castle, three minor buildings, a courtyard, terraced gardens, rows of trees, orchards, meadows, fields, vineyards, and even a small port.
Josephine lived there only a few years, then left the building to her daughter, who sold it in 1817.
In 1954 the building became the property of the City of Geneva and was classified as a historical monument.
Currently, it hosts the Permanent Representation of Italy to International Organizations and the Permanent Representation of Italy at the Disarmament Conference.
In 2009, the City of Geneva launched a large-scale restorationemcompassing the facade and some rooms, including the Hall of Paintings, by Italian restorers, which ended in 2011.
In 2014, specific interventions were made to make the building accessible to people with disabilities.