Thursday, August 6, 2020



Via XX Settembre 66/68a

1500s, formerly VILLA CICCIAPORCI named after the Florentine family who built it

It was transformed in the mid-1700s, maybe by Paolo Posi (1708/76) for the Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga, Secretary of State of Benedict XIV Lambertini (1740/58). The CASINO (the main body of the villa) dates back to that time

The villa at the time was called VILLA VALENTI

It was called Villa Bonaparte or also VILLA PAOLINA (Pauline Villa) after the sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, who bought it in 1816, lived there until 1824 and renewed it according to the taste of the time, maybe with the help of Luigi Canina (1795/1856)

“With Pauline Bonaparte it was a time of splendor for the villa, as recalled by Lady Morgan in his memoirs: 'Of all the villas that the Borghese family owns only one is habitable, only one offers English propriety, French elegance and Italian taste united in the most wonderful way and that villa is Villa Paolina'. The villa between 1815 and 1824 also became a place hospitable to all Napoleonists banished from France, always welcomed with generosity by Pauline” (Claudio Rendina – from “La Repubblica” of October 1, 2007)

It was badly damaged during September 20, 1870 for the breach of Porta Pia, which was opened in the very section of the Aurelian Walls, which corresponds to the boundary wall of the villa

In 1906 it was sold to the Prussian government, and it was owned by Germany until the Second World War as German Embassy

In 1951 it was bought from France and it is currently the French Embassy to the Holy See

Interior decoration with “Mythological Depictions” by Giovanni Paolo Pannini (1691/1765)

“The qualities of Pannini were stimulated by a close contact with the Roman classical world, substantiated by the charm of the monuments and ruins, at the time still closely inherent to the surrounding environment, and invigorated by the emotion of the continuous new archaeological findings” (Giancarlo Sestieri)



Via Nomentana 216

1896/97 Francesco Mora (nineteenth century) and the archaeologist-architect Giacomo Boni (1859/1925) for the Baron Alberto Blanc, foreign minister in the Crispi government at the end of 1800s

In the park of about 47,000 m² (11.6 acres) there is an “Ancient monument of Tor di Quinto” moved here by Giacomo Boni

Since 1992 it belongs to the Italian state that, according to the plan, should transform it into a public park with local public services

It seems that, for the disgraceful will of the Rome administration, the villa is set to become the school of management at the LUISS University with adjoining parking lots and almost total closure to the public



Piazzale Aurelio 1

Beginning of 1500s for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese later Paul III (1534/49)

Between 1650 and 1667 it was completely rebuilt for Cardinal Girolamo Farnese

During the following years it belonged to the families Latera, Bentivoglio of Aragon, the Bourbons of Naples and Giraud

In 1841 it was bought by Prince Alexander Savorelli who had it restored by Virginio Vespignani (1808/82)

During the Roman Republic in 1849 Giuseppe Garibaldi had his headquarters here and it was partly destroyed by the French during the siege of Rome on that same year

In 1885 the villa was bought by the American lady Clara Jessup Heyland, wife of an English officer who had been injured during the war in India

The lady changed the name of the villa into VILLA AURELIA, had it restored and had the garden fitted

In 1909, by the will of Mrs. Heyland, the ownership of the house passed to the AMERICAN ACADEMY IN ROME, an institute of American culture, whose director was the American architect William Rutherford Mead

In 1914 it was restored by the architectural studio of Charles Follen McKim (1847/1909), William Rutherford Mead (1846/1928) and Stanford White (1853/1906)

In the years 1946-47, the Academy started a restoration of the villa, executed by the architect Bruno Zevi (1918/2000) under the supervision of the Director of Laurence Roberts

“The architecture firm of McKim, Mead, and White defined the look of Gilded Age America. They designed New York's original Penn Station. They built mansions in Newport, R.I., for robber barons and industrial tycoons. They were even invited to renovate the White House in 1903. (...) Stanford White may be best known today for the scandal surrounding his murder (he was shot by the jealous husband of a former lover) but 100 years ago, he and his colleagues were designing a nation. The three men took much of their inspiration from Europe, at a time when traveling to Europe could be a grueling ordeal. They see the first world; they see the old world; they see things that are medieval, things that are Baroque, the Roman amphitheater at Arles. (...) As trans-Atlantic travel grew easier, they began to bring some of this architectural booty home with them. (...) They see themselves as a huge Santa Claus, with a backpack and they put the buildings and the style and the things that they can buy in this backpack, and bring it to the Americans” (Mosette Broderick)

Nearby, on Via Angelo Masina there is the Library of the American Academy



Via Mazzarino 11

End of 1500s by Carlo Lambardi (1545/1619) for the Vitelli family who had bought the preexisting building with land in 1566 from the Genoese family Grimaldi

It was bought in 1601 by Clement VIII Aldobrandini (1592/1605) who gave it to his nephew Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini and had it restored in the years 1601/02 by Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602)

Here used to be kept a huge collection of paintings and ancient statues including the “Aldobrandini Wedding” now in the Vatican Museums

“The area where the villa was built has played a leading role since the second half of the sixteenth century, in relation to the arrangement of the Roman road ‘Alta Semita’ (High Semite) promoted by Pius IV (1559/65), completed in 1561, symbol of the 'salus publica' (public health) given back to the city by the pope. The renewal of the street gave impetus to the construction of new gardens, usually arranged by clients who delighted in antiquarian research, and in this way would recover the Renaissance scholarly tradition of this hill linked to the activities of Pomponio Leto (1425/98)” (Carla Benocci - Verdi Delizie, le ville, i giardini, i parchi storici del Comune di Roma)

In the third decade of the 1700s Gabriele Valvassori (1683/1761) was in charge of the maintenance of the garden, and designed the appearance appropriate to the French taste of the time

In 1811 the property passed to Count Alexandre François Sextius Miollis, General of Napoleon

“The Count Miollis introduced a new neoclassical idea of collecting works in a museum inspired by Antonio Canova. The sculpture collection was enriched (...); the interiors were furnished with a large collection of paintings both French and Italian, following the general taste, who had made the villa a veritable living room, where it was possible to study Latin literature, especially the works of Virgil” (Carla Benocci - Verdi Delizie, le ville, i giardini, i parchi storici del Comune di Roma)

In 1814 it was re-acquired by Giuseppe Aldobrandini who in 1846 had a NYMPHAEUM built by G.B. Benedetti

In 1876 the area of the villa was halved for earthworks due to the opening of Via Nazionale

In 1929 it was bought by the Italian state

Since 1992 it is a public park

“It is one of the oldest and most prestigious Renaissance complex, where there were exposed famous collections of paintings and sculptures, inherited by Pietro Aldobrandini and later transferred to the Galleria Doria Pamphili, the Borghese Gallery and other collections” (Carla Benocci - Verdi Delizie, le ville, i giardini, i parchi storici del Comune di Roma)


1938 Cesare Valle (1902/2000)


Built between late 1800s and early 1900s after the opening of Via Nazionale


It is the seat of the Istituto internazionale per l'Unificazione del Diritto Privato (International Institute for the Unification of Private Law)

The rest of the villa is managed by the City of Rome

On Via Mazzarino large ancient brick building, probably WAREHOUSES OF LUCIUS NEVIO CLEMENT of the end of the first century AD with restorations carried out at the time of Trajan (98/117) and the Severian emperors (193/235), covered later by the embankment of the BATHS OF CONSTANTINE



Via Salaria 92

1747/67 Carlo Marchionni (1702/86) for Cardinal Alessandro Albani patron grandson of Clement XI Albani (1700/21) in order to keep and display his collection of ancient sculptures

Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717/78), the mastermind of Neo-Classical style, was the librarian of the cardinal and was also in charge of cataloging the pieces of antiquities of his patron’s collection

“Through his writings (Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums, 1764) Winckelmann promoted the aesthetics of Neoclassicism, exerting enormous influence on art and taste of his time, and formulating a new methodological approach that is the basis of the modern history of art” (Enciclopedia Treccani)

In 1817 it passed to the Castelbarco family

In 1866 it was bought by Alessandro Torlonia who modified it in part, and increased greatly the collection of works of art

On the 20th of September 1870 the capitulation of Rome from the Papal army to the Italian army commanded by General Raffaele Cadorna was signed here

“The shape and distribution of the constituent nuclei of the villa are designed in strict adherence to the display function. The richness and variety of solutions - as in the gallery with the new combination of a ornamentation still in rococo style and ancient fragments or as in the garden with the striking interpenetration of picturesque ruins, ancient statues and natural elements - make Villa Albani a totally unique product, the result of the refined sensibility and culture of the client” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

Main Building

It is known in Italian as Casino


It takes its name from the fresco on the ceiling representating the “Parnassus” 1756 by Anton Raphael Mengs (1728/79)

“It became the new sacred text of Classicism: the painter abandons the baroque illusionistic perspective and returns to the Raphael inspired idea of panels within a painted architectonical structure. The composition is conceived as a relief and it doesn’t enhance the potential for sensitive seduction of the colors, as much as the purity of the line that defines the forms. The central character recalls the statue of the Belvedere Apollo and the two dancing figures on the left are inspired by prototypes in Herculaneum, but idealized along the lines of a classical style also inspired by Raphael” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

APARTMENT OF LEDA reproducing an ancient thermal bath


Opposite the Casino there is the CAFFEEHAUS

Among the outstanding antiquities:

“Relief of Antinous” from Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli

“Relief of knight who defeats an enemy” original from Attica in parthenonic style

“Torlonia young girl” mid first century BC

“Sarcophagus with the wedding of Peleus and Thetis” of the Hadrian’s period (117/138)

“Hestia Giustiniani” of the Hadrian’s period from the original of 460 BC

“Albani Athlete” by Stefano a pupil of Pasiteles

“Frescoes from the François tomb in Vulci” end of the fourth century BC with mythological scenes of Greek and Etruscan-Roman stories

It would be great if the long dispute between the Torlonia family and the Italian state could be resolved so that one of the most important collections of ancient sculpture in the world woud be finally be made visible to mankind

Among the paintings:

“Madonna and Saints” 1475 by Niccolò di Liberatore aka l’Alunno (about 1430/1502)

“Altarpiece” 1419 by Pietro Vannucci aka Pietro Perugino (about 1450/1523)

“Pieta” 1509 by Francesco Zaganelli (about 1460-70/1532)

Also amazing works by:

Giovanni Paolo Pannini (1691/1765), Gerrit Van Honthorst aka Gherardo Delle Notti (1590/1656), Pompeo Batoni (1708/87), Antoon Van Dyck (1599/1641), Jacopo Robusti aka Tintoretto (1518/94), Taddeo Zuccari (1529/66), Jusepe de Ribera aka lo Spagnoletto (1591/1652), Jacopino del Conte (about 1515/98), Carlo Maratta (1625/1713), Giovanni Francesco Barbieri aka Guercino (1591/1666), Giulio Pippi aka Giulio Romano (1499/1546), Jacques Courtois aa il Borgognone (1628/79), Luca Giordano (1634/1705), Philipp Peter Roos aka Rosa da Tivoli (1651/1705), Jacques-Louis David (1748/1825) and Gaspar van Wittel (1653/1736)