Tuesday, August 15, 2017


1598/1602 Carlo Maderno (1556/1629) for Onofrio Santacroce. Formerly known as PALAZZO SANTACROCE
Completed in the years 1630/40 by Francesco Peparelli (active since 1626/d. 1641)
1659/68 FAÇADE ON VIA DEI CATINARI by Giovanni Antonio De Rossi (1616/95)
Since 1904 it belongs to the Pasolini family from Ravenna who opened their palace to the followers of Modernism
It is now divided into apartments and it is the seat of the library of the Italian-Latin American Institute
Frescoes by G.B. Ruggieri aka Battistino del Gessi (1606/40)
In another room “Biblical scenes” by Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi (1606/80) from Bologna
Cardinal Prospero Publicola Santacroce was the first to introduce tobacco in Rome which was called Santacroce Grass. The French ambassador in Portugal had planted it in the royal gardens of Lisbon and had him trying it in 1561
It was called Nicotine Grass and was thought to be a cure for many diseases so as to be known as Holy Grass
The Santacroce family could afford to build this building thanks to the proceeds of the tobacco trade
In the seventeenth century tobacco was strongly recommended to priests and nuns as an aid to repress the sexual desires even if not everyone encouraged its use: Innocent X Pamphilj (1644/55) came to threaten to excommunicate those who had smoked in the Basilica of St. Peter


1644/50 Girolamo Rainaldi (1570/1655) for Innocent X Pamphilj (1644/55) over pre-existing buildings 
Later it became the home of Innocent X's sister-in-law, Olimpia Maidalchini, very influential on the pope. She was a woman extremely resourceful and iron-willed and many believed she was the mistress of the pope
“The role of Olimpia Maidalchini in these building operations (...) is not yet completely clear. Certainly, both the pope and Olimpia Maidalchini delegated the supervision of many of the most important operations to the Oratorian Father Virgilio Spada, a man of considerable artistic culture. There is, however, evidence that, in some cases, Olimpia intervened directly in the design of the works, as in the case of the great hall of the palace in Piazza Navona, for which the painter Andrea Camassei, an artist protected by her, executed a series of frescoes directly inspired by the client” (Stefano Tabacchi - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani)
Since 1960 it is owned by the Brazilian State with the Embassy of Brazil and the Italo-Brazilian Cultural Center
Around three courtyards there are TWENTY-THREE ROOMS including many richly frescoed by great masters of the seventeenth century:
ROOMS OF JOSEPH JEW, MOSES AND ROMAN HISTORY Giacinto Gimignani (1606/81) and students
MARINE ROOM Agostino Tassi (1578/1644)
ROOM OF BACCHUS Andrea Camassei (1602/49)
HALL OF THE COUNTRYSIDE Gaspard Dughet (1615/75)
HALL OF OVID Giacinto Brandi (1621/91)
Architecture of Francesco Borromini (1599/1667) who had joined Girolamo Rainaldi in the years 1645/50
“In the two heads of the gallery above the serliane decorations he used again the dolphin-shaped motive of the canopy of St. Peter’s Basilica. Twenty years later still it bothered him having given Bernini this sign so personal and so full of meanings, organic symbol of vitality transmigrated in the material, usually inert, of architecture” (Paolo Portoghesi)
Frescoes “Stories of Aeneas: life and apotheosis”, in the short sides “Aeneas and Pallas” and “Aeneas into hell” 1651/54 Pietro Berrettini aka Pietro da Cortona (1597/1669)
It was a tangible sign of friendship between the two great masters and Pietro da Cortona was a congenial interpreter of the “human scale” Borromini's gallery with perfect compatibility
“Here Cortona drew a rich monochrome system, creating a wavelike structure for the main scenes. Works of infinite charm, here the problem of changing points of view has been resolved with incomparable mastery. His palette has become more transparent and bright that in the last ceilings of Palazzo Pitti, revealing the study of antiquity, Raphael and Veronese. Delicate blues prevail, as well as pale pinks, purple and yellow prelude to the tonal values used by Luca Giordano and during all the eighteenth century” (Rudolf Wittkower)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


It was built on the ruins of the Baths of Constantine which were completely destroyed in the process of building this palace
Among the statues found here:
Two “Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux” in Piazza del Quirinale
Two “Colossal river gods: the Tiber and the Nile”. Originally the Tiber represented the Tigris and it was later transformed with the addition of twins
Both the Dioscuri and the river gods probably originally decorated the nearby Temple of Serapis
Statue of “Constantine II” and “Costantius” transferred to Piazza del Campidoglio
“Statue of Constantine” moved to the atrium of the Basilica of St. John Lateran
The building was begun in 1605 by Flaminio Ponzio (1560/1613) for Cardinal Scipione Caffarelli Borghese (1577/1633)
It was completed in the years 1613/16 by Carlo Maderno (1556/1629)
It belonged to the Altemps family, to Cardinal Jules Mazarin, to the Mancini family and it was bought in 1704 by the Pallavicini Rospigliosi who are still the owners
Frescoes by Giovanni Mannozzi aka Giovanni da S. Giovanni (1592/1636)
Frescoes by Guido Reni (1575/1642) and Paul Brill (1554/1626)
Decorations with historical subjects by Giovanni Mannozzi aka Giovanni da S. Giovanni
Pallavicini Little House
In the ceiling of the central room:
“Aurora” 1614 by Guido Reni
“Guido, in his great fresco, took a subject which has long been a favorite, and illuminated it by the fire of his genius. So happily has he done this, so deeply has he touched men by his work, that The Aurora stands as one of that line of twelve pictures that most move and delight the world” (Jennie Ellis Keysor)
On the entrance lunette “Triumph of Love and Fame” by Antonio Tempesta (about 1555/1630)
On the walls “Four Seasons” about 1605 by Paul Brill (1554/1626)
“After 1600 Paul Brill was more and more under the influence of the Carraccis. The style of his landscapes essentially becomes easier and calmer, without detracting from the pleasant objectivity of the representations. The Four Seasons are a masterpiece with their clear perspective, the excellent rendition of their foliage and their beautiful patterns. They compare to the Seasons of Matteo da Siena in the Sala Ducale as the fulfillment to the promise” (Hermann Voss)
In the other two rooms:
“Rinaldo and Armida” by Giovanni Baglione (1566/1643) and “Combat of Armida” by Domenico Crespi aka Passignano (1559/1638)
Behind the Palace of the Gallery NYMPHAEUM called “The Theatre” 1611 maybe by Jan Van Santen aka Giovanni Vasanzio (1550/1621) with statues of Rivers “Po” and “Tiber” by Taddeo Landini (about 1550/96)
Paintings by Orazio Lomi aka Orazio Gentileschi (1563/1639) with quadrature perspectives by Agostino Tassi (1578/1644)
A third building (there were three stepped terraces) was destroyed for the opening of Via Nazionale and the frescoes by Ludovico Cardi aka Cigoli were moved to the Museo di Roma in Palazzo Braschi
Pallavicini Gallery
(Unfortunately it is not open to the public)
It is one of the most important art collections in Rome with about 540 paintings, begun by Lazzaro Pallavicini
It would be fabulous if the Pallavicini family would open to the public their incredible private collection as other families in Rome such as the Doria Pamphilj or the Colonna beautifully do
Some of the painters of the works in the collection:
Giovanni Francesco Barbieri aka Guercino (1591/1666), Federico Fiori aka Barocci (1535/1612), Jacopo Da Ponte aka Jacopo Bassano (about 1510/92), Pietro Berrettini akaPietro da Cortona (1597/1669), three by Sandro Filipepi aka Botticelli (1445/1510), Paul Brill (1554/1626), Annibale Carracci (1560/1609), Ludovico Carracci (1555/1619), Antonio Circignani aka Pomarancio (about 1568/1629), Sebastiano Conca (1680/1764), Antoon Van Dyck (1599/1641), Luigi Garzi (1638/1721), G.B. Gaulli aka Baciccio (1639/1709), Giacinto Gimignani (1606/81), Luca Giordano (1634/1705), Filippino Lippi (about 1457/1504), Lorenzo Lotto (about 1480/1556), Carlo Maratta (1625/1713), Jacopo Negretti aka Jacopo Palma il Giovane (1544/1628), Nicolas Poussin (1594/1665), Guido Reni (1575/1642), Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio (1552/1626), two by Pieter Paul Rubens (1577/1640), Francesco de' Rossi aka Francesco Salviati (1510/63), Luca Signorelli (1445/1523), Francesco Solimena (1657/1747), Antonio Tempesta (about 1555/1630), Jacopo Robusti aka Tintoretto (1518/94), Francesco Trevisani (1656/1746), Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velásquez (1599/1660), Domenico Zampieri aka Domenichino (1581/1641)


Begun in 1622 by Carlo Maderno (1556/1629) for the Ludovisi family
He modified the courtyard of a building they had bought in the previous year from the Colonna family
The original structure was a turreted building of the fifteenth century. It belonged to the Benzoni family
1664 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680) for Flavio Chigi, who had taken it in usufruct in 1661 and had expanded it by buying the Mandosi Palace overlooking Via del Corso
In the years 1745/50 it was extended doubling the sides and in the middle (with sixteen pillars instead of the eight by Bernini and two gates instead of one) by Nicola Salvi (1697/1751) and his assistant Luigi Vanvitelli (1700/73) for the Odescalchi family
They had bought in the same year, even if they had lived here in rent since 1693
“The additions of Salvi did not prejudice the revolutionary importance of Bernini's design. Various architectural elements were combined here in a project of true nobility and grandeur. Bernini had found the formula for the baroque aristocrat palace. And the immense influence of this building extended far beyond the borders of Italy, for example in Vienna and Leningrad” (Rudolf Wittkower)
1887/89 Raffaele Ojetti (1845/1924) who repaired the damage from a fire in 1887
The palace is still owned by the Odescalchi family and they rent it out partially
The Odescalchis own and keep in the palace a stunning work of art:
“Conversion of St. Paul” 1600/01 by Michelangelo Merisi aka Caravaggio (1571/1610), oil on wood of cypress for Monsignor Tiberio Cerasi
This is the first version, mysteriously never put in place, of the canvas placed in 1605 in the Cerasi Chapel in S. Maria del Popolo
“Work of incomparable beauty, still relevant to the first ways of Caravaggio, it was all inserted in the Mannerist style, filled with a golden light that emphasizes a warm and rich palette of color. Yet some deep dark tones hint the revolution that the painter will bring about shortly thereafter in painting. The Odescalchi Conversion shines with its own light, it is made with a smooth and refined painting style that can fully respond to the narrative component of the subject which was inspired, as a homage from the artist to the more famous Conversion frescoed by Michelangelo in the Pauline Chapel. The turmoil of the characters, the wild horse, the Christ that flows from heaven and, not least, the astonishing parallelism, spotted by Cristina Acidini Luchinat, of the gestures of the group of angels in the upper right of Michelangelo's fresco with the angel holding the Christ of Caravaggio's Conversion are clear evidence” (Francesco Buranelli)


1658/60 Giovanni Antonio De Rossi (1616/95) maybe from a design of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680) for the Marquis Nuñez
In 1806 it became the property of the Bonaparte family and here lived Napoleon's brother, Lucien Bonaparte, who had Raffaele Stern (1774/1820) to renovate the building
In 1842 it was bought by the Torlonia family who had Antonio Sarti (1797/1880) to restore and enlarge it
Marino Torlonia wanted to build the Hotel d'Inghilterra (Hotel England) in front of the building for his guests
It was again restored in 1989


1889 Cesare Janz (active 1886/89) from Trieste
Gargantuan style typical of the period of king Humbert I for this building which is named after Ernesto Nathan (1845/1921), mayor of Rome in the years 1907/13 and 1917/19, who lived and died here
He held the office of Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy from 1896 to 1904 and from 1917 to 1919

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Beginning of 1600s Bartolomeo Breccioli (?/1639)
Interior decorations for the Marquis Fabrizio Nari including the spectacular vault in the corner LIVING ROOM OF THE SECOND FLOOR:
In the center “Triumph of truth over deception”
Around four biblical episodes with “Esther's Stories” 1673/75 all painted by the excellent painter and architect from Rieti Antonio Gherardi (1638/1702)
“The pictorial quality is uncertain and the paintings were considered by the critics, until the discovery of documents, dating to the period previous to the ceiling of S. Maria in Trivio. Such apparent stylistic weakness is likely to be due to the modification of the initial project, which provided a breakdown of the vault similar to that of S. Maria in Trivio, due to a sudden restoration of the ceiling desired by the client. From the point of view of style Gherardi refers explicitly to the canvas with stories of Esther painted by Paolo Caliari, called Veronese, in church of St. Sebastian of the Gerolamini in Venice” (Ivana Corsetti - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


1660/78 Mattia De Rossi (1637/95) for the Muti Papazzurri family that was not related with the Muti family, having taken their name for an ancient member of the family that was dumb (in Italian muto)
It was originally connected to the other Palazzo Papazzurri Muti (later Palazzo Balestra) with an arch that was destroyed but gave the name anyway to Via dell'Archetto (street of the arch)
An arch built in 1948 connects the palace to the former Franciscan convent
It is now owned by the Bruschi family
Frescoes and tempera on mythological subjects and landscapes second half of 1600s by Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi (1606/80) from Bologna and Giacinto Calandrucci (1646/1707) from Palermo, a student of Carlo Maratta
BIBLIOTECA DEL PONTIFICIO ISTITUTO BIBLICO (Library of the Pontifical Biblical Institute)
There are about 135,000 volumes about the Sacred Scripture and the Ancient Near East


Begun at the end of 1500s by Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602)
Completed in the years 1642/62 by Giovanni Antonio De Rossi (1616/95)
At the beginning of the nineteenth century Cecilia Muti married Giulio Bussi originally from Orvieto and the names of the families were united until the end of the line in 1972

Sunday, July 9, 2017


Beginning of 1500s for Giovanni Antonio Milesi an academic from Bergamo
Painted with very damaged mythological and historical scenes: “The Story of Niobe”, “Cato the Younger”, “Rape of the Sabine Women” and “Laws of Numa Pompilius” by Polidoro Caldara aka Polidoro da Caravaggio (about 1495/1543) and Maturino da Firenze (?/1528)
It is the only palace with Palazzo Ricci where there are remains of the many frescoes that used to adorn the façades of many buildings of Rome at the beginning of the sixteenth century
“His preference for reliefs let us make a comparison with Perin del Vaga: (...) Polidoro's figures emerge from the darkness of the background in an even more assertive way, with even more illusionism. The figures themselves are more dynamic, more compressed; compositions are more concentrated, simpler and closer to the ideal of the ancient reliefs than Perino's. The numerous secondary elements show knowledge of antiquity more precise than the ones the whimsical Florentine artist had” (Hermann Voss)
In 1576 Cherubino Alberti (1553/1615) painted in the center of the façade a golden mask (maschera d'oro) that gave the name to the street
In 1615 it was bought by the Baccani family
On the façade of the adjacent PALACE ON VIA DELLA MASCHERA D'ORO No.9 monochrome etchings on the plaster by Jacopo Ripanda (about 1465/1516)
Inserted in the corner there is a big ANCIENT SPIRAL COLUMN
Columns of this kind were often inserted in the corners of the buildings for decorative and for static functions, and also to serve as a “bumper” for the wagons that used to pass near buildings in the narrow streets of Rome
Both buildings now belong to the Lancellotti family who have their own main building a few meters away

Friday, July 7, 2017


Second half of 1500s by the architect Moschetti, his only work in Rome
FAÇADE completed in 1887 by Andrea Busiri Vici (1818/1911)
It is owned by the PROPAGANDA FIDE INSTITUTE (owned by the Vatican) and is leased to the fashion designer Valentino


The original building dates back to the fifteenth century
It belonged to Cardinal Michiel, nephew of Pope Paul II Barbo (1464/71). The cardinal is buried in the nearby church of S. Marcello and was poisoned in 1503 by Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI Borgia (1492/1503)
In 1532 the building was sold to the Salviati family and at the beginning of 1600 to the Cesi family. It is therefore also known as MICHIEL SALVIATI CESI MELLINI PALACE
Restructured in 1700 by Tommaso De Marchis (1693/1759) who was also the architect of the renovation and the façade of the church of S. Alessio
Restored 1913/19 by Cesare Bazzani (1873/1939) who also made the façade on the Piazza di S. Marcello al Corso
It is owned by the BANCA DI ROMA and there is a project to convert it into a luxury hotel

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


End of 1800s by Gaetano Koch (1849/1910) for Senator Mengarini
Since 1915, it was property of Senator Luigi Albertini, editor of the newspaper Corriere della Sera, one of the main lobbyists for the Italian intervention in World War I, and since 1941, after his death, of his daughter Elena, married to Count Nicolò Carandini
After World War II the building then took the name of PALAZZO CARANDINI
The prestigious place in which it stands and the incomparable view are such that in the fifties the Agnelli family (founders and directors of FIAT cars) decide to use the building as their residence in Rome
Modern myth has it that two floors of the building were won during a card game between the lawyer Gianni Agnelli and Count Nicolò Carandini
Another rumor still more insistent wants that the building has been favored by the Agnelli because its height exceeds that of the Torrino del Quirinale, as if to symbolize the role played by the Agnelli family as substitute of the House of Savoy after the war

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


1541 maybe Giovanni Lippi aka Nanni di Baccio Bigio (about 1513/68) for Ludovico Mattei conte di Paganica
Partly built over the auditorium of the THEATER OF BALBUS
In 1640 Bartolomeo Breccioli (?/1639) expanded the building for the Mattei family towards Via delle Botteghe Oscure, on land purchased in 1548, demolishing old houses owned by them
Since 1928, it is the headquarters of the INSTITUTE OF THE ITALIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA with a library of 85,000 volumes mainly of encyclopedic works

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Begun in 1598 by Carlo Maderno (1556/1629) and completed in 1618 for Asdrubale Mattei Duke of Giove on the site of some demolished houses of the family
The poet Giacomo Leopardi lived here for five months in 1823 being a relative of the Antici Mattei family, who had inherited the palace
Since 1938 it belongs to the Italian State
In the entrance hall, courtyard and loggia ANCIENT RELIEFS, STATUES and BUSTS from the Mattei collection including “Sarcophagus with stories of the origins of Rome” known as Mattei Sarcophagus on the stairs
The busts of Roman emperors date back to the sixteenth century
The coat of arms of the Mattei family is associated with the eagle of the Gonzaga family: Asdrubale was, in fact, married to Constanza Gonzaga, related to the powerful Habsburg family
“Jacob and Rachel at the source” by Domenico Zampieri aka Domenichino (1581/1641)
“Stories of Joseph Jew” by Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio (1552/1626)
“Stories of Joseph and Potiphar's Wife” by Giovanni Lanfranco (1582/1647)
“Four stories of Solomon” 1622/23 by Pietro Berrettini aka Pietro da Cortona (1597/1669)
“They show his sense of drama, his distinctive compositional style, his attention to archaeological detail, and his strength and clarity in the design of the main protagonists. Individual figures as well as entire scenes seem to foreshadow his later work and the panel with the death of Joab seems an anticipation of the Iron Age painted in the Palazzo Pitti in 1637. Yet, although the style is formed or in the process of training, it does lack vigor and self-confidence as well as the energy of his mature style” (Rudolf Wittkower)
Opened by Harry Nelson Gay, professor of history, a native of Massachusetts who had settled in Italy in the early 1900s to teach at the University of Rome. He collected in his library all publications of interest to the U.S. he could find
The Library is now with over 50,000 books an important record of American culture
In addition, a service of international borrowing offers the possibility to consult the catalog of the most important libraries in the U.S. and ask them to send books and photocopies, with a choice of over sixty million publications


Original building in the fifteenth century. It belonged to the Boccabella family
Completely renovated in late 1600s by Carlo Fontana (1634/1714)
Also known as PALAZZO MASSIMO DI RIGNANO COLONNA after the wedding at the end of 1800s of the heiress Maria Massimo with Prospero Colonna mayor of Rome
The Massimo family split into two branches in the sixteenth century: the Massimo Delle Colonne from the name of the building now on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II in which they still live and the Dukes of Rignano also known as Massimo di Aracoeli whose male line ended
In 1939 one corner of the building was cut off for the opening of Via del Mare
Portal with plant motifs and embattled observatory tower of Duke Mario Massimo built in the early 1900s
In the courtyard FOUNTAIN OF THE MERMAN as well by Carlo Fontana
On the top floor the famous actress Sophia Loren lived for a while

Friday, June 23, 2017


1532/36 Baldassarre Peruzzi (1481/1536) for Angelo Massimo
He built it on a preexisting building at the same time of the adjacent Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne
Also known as PALAZZO MASSIMO DI PIRRO for a statue of Mars found here and incorrectly believed to be an image of Pyrrhus
1877 restored by Luigi Fontana (1827/1908)
On the FAÇADE ON PIAZZA DEI MASSIMI paintings in monochrome “Stories from the Old and New Testament” 1523 maybe of the school of Daniele da Volterra (1509/66) for the marriage of Angelo Massimo
In the palace there was since 1467 the printing of Arnold Pannartz and Conrad Schweynheim, the first ever in Rome
“Some considerations lead rather to recognize it in a house that the Massimo brothers had in the immediate vicinity of Campo de' Fiori, along the Via Mercatoria, obligatory point of passage for Romans and foreigners, and therefore very suitable place for the sale of books produced in series. This same house - a sign of continuity in the use of places for both production and for sale - housed in all likelihood, after Sweynheym and Pannartz two other typographical workshops: the one of Eucario Silber and that of Antonio Blado, located «in field Florae in aedibus Iohannis Baptistae de Maximis»“ (Anna Modigliani - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)
In front of the building in Piazza dei Massimi COLUMN OF THE ODEON OF DOMITIAN found in 1937 and moved here in 1950

Sunday, June 18, 2017


1159, formerly known as Palazzo del Portico (Palace of the Portico) and part of the houses of the Massimo family
It was built over the ruins of the auditorium of the ODEON OF DOMITIAN (81/96), theater with 10,000 seats south of the Stadium of Domitian (Piazza Navona) used for music competitions that were part of the Certamen Capitolinum
1532/36 rebuilt by Baldassarre Peruzzi (1481/1536) of whom is the architectural masterpiece
The building is still owned by the Massimo family one of the oldest in Rome, legendarily connected to Quintus Fabius Maximus the delayer, but historically documented “only” from the year 999
Beautiful ceiling with wonderful portal that leads into the VESTIBULE with stuccos
Two narrow courtyards that allow light to reach even the lower floors, with sculptures and archaeological finds, including a “Venus Anadyomene”
Wooden ceiling with stuccos maybe by Baldassarre Peruzzi or Pietro Bonaccorsi aka Perin del Vaga (1501/47)
Frieze “Stories of Fabius Maximus” by Daniele da Volterra (1509/66)
Flemish tapestries and frieze of Baldassarre Peruzzi
Frieze painted with scenes of the “Foundation of Rome” by Giulio Pippi aka Giulio Romano (1499/1546)
In addition heavenly hall and reception room
On the second floor
Here St. Philip Neri (1515/95) on the 16th of March 1583 resurrected for a short time the fourteen year old Paolo son of Fabrizio Massimo. After he confessed, he asked to die to join her sister who had died a few days before, so St. Philip Neri blessed him and Paul died again
Every March 16th a religious ceremony takes place here and the building is open to all
“Miracle of St. Philip” by Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio (1552/1626)