Inside the historic center of Albenga, there is the "Piazzetta dei Leoni" , one of the most celebrated corners of ancient Liguria, formed by the apse of the Cathedral of San Michele Arcangelo . The square is characterized by the presence of three stone lions, which the Costa counts placed in the square around the seventeenth century. Previously, the sculptures were positioned symmetrically, forming a triangle in the background of the square and connecting with the design of the ancient cobblestones, where there is also the coat of arms of the Marquises Del Carretto. The order described above was later changed.
The whole environment undergoes the grandeur of the Torre dei Costa-Balestrino , on which one of the three previously mentioned lions rests. As with all the other towers in the historic center, we know little before the 17th century. Built towards the end of 1200, over the centuries it has been incorporated into the Medieval House of the Costa, which was the oldest residence of the illustrious Albenganese family, so much so that only the side facing Piazza dei Leoni remained completely free. The base of the building is in Cisano stone and dates back to the 12th century. The upper part, in brick, dates back to the early 14th century and is surmounted by a Ghibelline battlements resting on three series of Gothic-style arches. The decoration of arches, such as the openings that can be seen on all sides of the tower, were made later than when the tower was built. In 1975 the building was restored and the old plaster dating back to 1500 which imitated the stones of the base was removed.
Palazzo Balestrino , on the west side of the Piazza dei Leoni, is a Renaissance house built on the medieval area where there was previously the shoemakers' market. The Palace became the seat of the Bishop of Albenga following the bequest of the last descendant of the Del Carretto family, the Marquis Domenico Donato Del Carretto di Balestrino, who died in 1954. The structure is historically linked to the Costa counts, who had it built in 1525 , and to the Marquises Del Carretto, who in 1723 took over the possession, once the firstborn branch of the Costa family was extinguished, thus transferring the residence of their main branch to Albenga.
The Del Carretto family were already in medieval times Marquises of Savona and Finale and extended their feudal dominion over the Val Bormida. The Palazzo, on two floors, represents a perfect Ligurian patrician residence, only partially restored in its external decoration. The interior is also decorated: the atrium is embellished with Roman inscriptions; among these, we remember the Tombstone of Costanzo and the Epigraph of P. Granius Hyla. The coffered ceiling of the main hall on the second floor, partly visible from the square, was painted in the first half of the 16th century by Roman artists; this presents in each compartment the effigy of a Roman emperor.