Monday, October 12, 2020


Via Nomentana 70

1802/06 Giuseppe Valadier (1762/1839) for Giovanni Torlonia who in 1797 had bought the Vigna Colonna (the vineyard of the Colonna family) with dilapidated buildings previously belonging to the Pamphili family

Continued and completed in the years 1832/40 by G.B. Caretti (1803/after 1850) for Alessandro Torlonia, son of Giovanni Torlonia

G.B. Caretti added the portico with the terracotta relief "Bacchus returning triumphant from the Indies on a chariot pulled by tigers" by Rinaldo Rinaldi (1793/1873), the two porticos on either side with doric columns and rebuilt and decorated personally (being both architect painter ) the interior of the building

After about twenty-five years of neglect the villa became the private residence of Benito Mussolini for eighteent years (1925/43) by paying a symbolic annual rent of one cent only

Mussolini and Prince Torlonia built a refuge from the bombing in the Jewish catacomb of the third and fourth century AD which is below the villa, extending for about 9 km (6 miles)

TWO OBELISKS made out of pink granite from Baveno, dedicated to the memory of the parents of Alessandro, Giovanni and Anna Maria Torlonia

Since 1978 the area of the villa is a public park

Casino Nobile

Twenty rooms on the first two floors:

Atrium - Bookshop. Entrance room


"Gable of aedicula with symbols of Fortune" of the Trajan period (98/117) from the Mausoleum of Claudia Semne on the Appian Way


Inspired by the so called stufe (stoves) of the Renaissance period

Decorations designed by G.B. Caretti (1803/after 1850), with grotesques paintings on a red background and panels with mythological stories of erotic subjects or subjects representing the sea, painted with the unusual technique of oil on wall, except "Galatea" painted with the mezzo fresco (half fresco) technique by the painter from Belluno Pietro Paoletti (1801/47)


Ceiling " Dante led by Virgil in limbo to meet the great poets of antiquity" by Pietro Paoletti


"Three stucco reliefs: Socrates drinking hemlock (from Plato's Phaedo), the Death of Priam (from Virgil's Aeneid) and the Dance of the Phaeacians (from Homer's Odyssey)" by Antonio Canova (1757/1822)


"Athena Parthenos" mid-third century AD

"Statue of the type of the Great Ercolanense or Ceres" second century AD, both restored by Bartolomeo Cavaceppi


Frescoes "Stories of Psyche" by Pietro Paoletti


32 portraits and painted architecture in Gothic style by Pietro Paoletti


Five sculptures faux-antique by the Studio Cavaceppi


Vault "Stories of Love" by Domenico Toietti (active 1840/62) and Leonardo Massabò (1812/86)

Lunettes "Flight of the Twelve Hours" and "Flight of the Three Graces" by Leonardo Massabò, "Parnassus" by Francesco Coghetti (1801/75)


"Torso of Herakles on modern herm" of the Hadrian period (117/138)


In the ceiling "Aurora, Day and Night" by Decio Trabalza (1804/42)


"Stories of the myth of Bacchus, the Seasons and the Three Continents" by Francesco Podesti (1800/95) within a decorative frame with grotesque masks and minutes landscapes by G.B. Caretti (1803/after 1850)


"Fake Gothic loggia punctuated by false windows" by G.B. Caretti

Two round panels into the ceiling with episodes of the poem Jerusalem Delivered: by Torquato Tasso: "Erminia among the shepherds" and "Armida abducts sleeping Rinaldo" by Pietro Paoletti


Small room with painted coffered ceiling. In the square panel in the center "Toilet of Venus" attributed to the Roman painter Luigi Coghetti only namesake of Francesco Coghetti who was from Bergamo


Mussolini's bedroom with original furniture already owned by Giovanni Torlonia junior


Chapel until 1905, then Boudoir


Study of Benito Mussolini

Within the decorative motifs painted by G.B. Caretti there are panels with stories of Cleopatra: "Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra", "Coronation of Antony and Cleopatra", "Cleopatra kneeling in front of Antonio" by Luigi Fioroni (1793/1864)



Vault "Stories of Alexander the Great" by Francesco Coghetti (1801/75)

Frieze below the vault in low relief "Triumph of Alexander in Babylon" by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770/1844) derived from the original in marble at the Quirinal Palace

Along the walls paintings "Allegorical Figures" alluding to the attributes of the hero and in the niches "Marble statues of Apollo and the Muses" by young artists working in the circle of Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770/1844) and his pupil Peter Tenerani (1789/1869)

Top floor:

Museum of the Roman School

Works of art dating from the period between the First and Second World War

"Magic Realism":

Francesco Trombadori (1886/1961), Antonio Donghi (1897/1963), Riccardo Francalancia (1886/1965), Ferruccio Ferrazzi (1891/1978)

“Scuola di Via Cavour” (School of Via Cavour):

Antonietta Raphaël Mafai (1895/1975), Mario Mafai (1902/65) and Scipione (Gino Bonichi) (1904/33)

"Although it lasted only a few years, from 1927 to 1930/31, the expressive story of the School of Via Cavour provides a sense of an experimental and anti-Novecento style idea, very modern in the way of renewing the Italian figurative research with violent coupling of light, with a strong sense of color and an ability to understand the changing nature of forms in the mysterious atmosphere of everyday realism" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

"The Thirties":

Tonal painters such as Corrado Cagli (1910/76), Giuseppe Capogrossi (1900/72), Emanuele Cavalli (1904/81), Roberto Melli (1885/1958) and Guglielmo Janni (1892/1958)

Painters who developed a new "realist language” in the years just before the war: Alberto Ziveri (1908/90), Fausto Pirandello (1899/1975), Renato Guttuso (1911/87), the young Renzo Vespignani (1924/2001)


Pericle Fazzini (1913/87), Mirko (Mirko Basaldella) (1910/69), Leoncillo Leonardi (1915/68) and Luigi Bartolini (1892/1963) master of engraving

Casina delle Civette

Mansion of the Owls

1916/19 Vincenzo Fasolo (1885/1969) who transformed the preexisting SWISS HUT 1840 by Giuseppe Jappelli (1783/1852)

It was the residence of the extravagant prince Don Giovanni Torlonia (1873/1938) who lived here alone

Museum of Liberty Style Stained Glass Windows

The windows were all installed between 1908 and 1930 and are unique in the international art scene

They were all produced by the laboratory of Cesare Picchiarini (1871/1943) from designs by Duilio Cambellotti (1876/1960), Umberto Bottazzi (1865/1932), Vittorio Grassi (1878/1958) and Paolo Paschetto (1885/1963)

The stained glass windows were restored and some reconstructed from original models by the company Vetrate d’Arte Giuliani

Casino dei Principi

Mansion of the Princes

1835/40 G.B. Caretti (1803/after 1850) who rebuilt a previous building which had already been modified by Giuseppe Valadier

It is used for temporary exhibitions

On the ground floor ARCHIVE OF ROMAN SCHOOL

Other facilities at the villa (currently in restoration)

Greenhouse, Moorish Tower, Tournaments Course all by Giuseppe Jappelli (1783/1852)

"He showed that effective spectacular taste which enabled him to make a garden, albeit small in size, look big. Jappelli therefore anticipated that trend towards stylistic contamination that was typical of the century; and on the other hand he also anticipated that attention to new construction techniques and new materials which would soon spark controversy" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)


Decorated in 1844 with no less than about 4,000 m² (1 acre) of frescoes in purist style by Costantino Brumidi  (1805/80)

Brumidi later went to Washington and painted in the Capitol for 25 years


Quintiliano Raimondi (1794/1848)

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