Saturday, November 7, 2020


Altitude 426 m (1,400 feet). 9,000 inhabitants

It is located on the site of the ancient city of Alba Longa, founded, according to the legend, by Ascanius son of Aeneas

The town was named after the Gandolfi family, the rulers of the area in the twelfth century

In 1279 it came into possession of the Savelli family

In 1604 it became domain of the Holy See and Pope Urban VIII Barberini (1623/44) was the first pope to stay here during the summer in 1626

Villa Albana di Domiziano

Albana Villa of Domitian

It was built over the preexisting Villa di Pompeo (Villa of Pompey)

The central part corresponded to the current papal gardens but the villa encompassed all of Lake Albano and reached the current city of Albano

THREE NARROW TERRACES about 500 m (1,640 feet) high:

In the first from above service areas, cemetery of the imperial servants and tanks in which the water of the aqueducts Malaffitto and Palazzolo was conveyed to

In the second residential area, panoramic terrace, four niches-nymphs and porch

In the third underground portico built in bricks narrow and long (120 x 7.5 m - 323 x 24 feet) with, by the north exit, "Statue of Polyphemus" from the Bergantino fountain

There are also remains of a THEATER: three wedges, corridor beneath the auditorium (crypt) and steps

There are just traces of a CIRCUS, a racetrack for horses, almost disappeared now

Villa Torlonia

Torlonia Villa

Restored 1817 by Giuseppe Valadier (1762/1839)

Also known as Delizia Carolina with sculptures by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770/1844)

Main FAÇADE consisting of a portico bordered by six Doric columns on which a terrace was built

Rising above there are six columns with Ionic capitals supporting a triangular pediment

Fresco "Apollo and the Hours" about 1844 by Pietro Gagliardi (1809/90)

The PARK with numerous trees more than a century old is a national monument

Ninfeo Dorico e Bergantino

Doric and Bergantino Nymphea (Fountains)

On the road going down to the lake there is the Doric Nymphaeum dating back to the first half of the first century BC

2 km (1.2 miles) further north on the shore of the lake there is the Bergantino Nymphaeum designed in a cave and that surely was part of the Villa of Domitian

Fontana di Piazza della Libertà

Fountain of Liberty Square

Designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680)

Palazzo Pontificio

Papal Palace

1624/29 Carlo Maderno (1556/1629) by order of Urban VIII Barberini (1623/44) on the ruins of the Savelli Castle

Enlarged and restored for Alessandro VII Chigi (1655/67) and others with the exception of the façade

In 1773 the nearby Cybo Villa was included in the villa and in 1929 it was the turn of the Barberini Villa


Stucco and frescoes by Taddeo Zuccari (1529/66) and his younger brother Federico Zuccari (about 1542/1609)

Since 1936 there is the Specola Vaticana, Vatican observatory with laboratory astrophysics among the best in Europe, originally founded by Gregory XIII Boncompagni (1572/85)

S. Tommaso da Villanova

St. Thomas of Villanova

1658/61 Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680) for Alessandro VII Chigi (1655/67) in honor of the Spanish saint who had died in 1555 and was canonized by the Chigi pope in 1658

"It is a simple Greek cross, reminiscent of perfect Renaissance churches. The proportions are of the utmost simplicity, the length of the arms of the cross, for example, is half of their width. But compared to the Renaissance churches, the height has been greatly increased and absolute dominance was given to the dome" (Rudolf Wittkower)

Stuccos on the altar "Angels", on the pendentives "Allegories of the Evangelists" and in the dome "Eight stories of St. Thomas of Villanova" by Ercole Antonio Raggi (1624/86)

The stuccos are illusionistically suspended in the large space of the dome as the coffers seem to continue behind the reliefs. Raggi used as models the ephemeral structures recently used for the feast of the canonization in St. Peter’s Basilica

"The spirit of austerity outside prevails also in the interior, but, in the area of ​​the vault, Bernini abandoned the moderation that he had imposed to himself. It was this type of Bernini dome with ribs and coffers old-style which was followed on countless occasions after 1660 by architects both in Italy and in the rest of Europe" (Rudolf Wittkower)


"Ecstasy of St. Thomas of Villanova" by Giacinto Gimignani (1606/81)


"Crucifixion" by Pietro Berrettini aka Pietro da Cortona (1597/1669)


"Assumption of the Virgin Mary" by Guillaume Courtois aka Borgognone (1628/79)

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