Palazzo Orsini Pio Righetti

"Palazzo Orsini Pio Righetti" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Saturday 4th June 2011

This vast 17th-century Palazzo Orsini Pio Righetti (also called - Palazzo Pio Righetti/ Palazzo Orsini Pio/ Palazzo Pio) occupies a part of the territory of ancient ruined Theatre of Pompey (Teatro di Pompeo) and in particular is based on the Temple of Venice. The zone with the ruins of ancient constructions became a property of the Orsini family in 1150; they built here some fortifications. The windows of the palazzo are decorated with lions and pine cones from the coat of arms of the Pio da Carpi family who lived here.

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The present palace was erected in the middle of the 15th century by cardinal Francesco Condulmer, nephew of Eugenius IV; then it passed to the Orsini; in the 17th century the palace was acquired by the Pio di Savoia family, who remade the facade by design of Camillo Arcucci, and put here a big collection of paintings, a part of which was transferred in Capitoline Gallery by Benedict XIV.

In the 19th century a banker Righetti became a new owner of the palace, who during the excavations for needs of consolidation of the construction, discovered in 1864 a statue of Hercules (Ercole Righetti), now exposed in Vatican Museums. In 1866 it was a seat of Lotto and in 1887 it became a property of Istituto Tata Giovanni, founded by Giovanni Borgi, a Roman bricklayer, who dedicated his life to orphans, helping them and teaching them his profession.
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Documentation of the Theater from this period indicates that by 1919, new construction had filled much of the large interior courtyard. During the 1930s, several large-scale excavation and urban clearing projects were proposed for the Theater and its environs, which would have entailed the complete destruction of all post-antique construction at this site. Currently, excavations are underway on the building’s ambulacrum in the area of the foundation of the Temple of Venus Victrix. This institute remained here till 1926, when was transferred in the new seat at Viale Ardeatino.

The society eventually reorganized and relocated its activities, and the third and fourth floors of the Palazzo Pio were abandoned and in poor condition until the University of Washington began restoration. An intriguing detail is that the ceiling of the Honors Program’s very own seminar room, which was restored by the UW, depicts a scene from Virgil’s Aeneid. The fresco depicts the goddess Juno offering the nymph Deiopea as a wife for Aeolus if he will release his winds upon Aeneas’ fleet. Also, the eagle and lion motif of the Pio da Carpi family makes another appearance in the ceiling fresco of the seminar room. In conclusion, presently the University of Washington Rome Center occupies the first, third, and fourth floors of the Palazzo Pio, a building with a rich past and promising future.

Note: Closed to the public. The building can be seen only from the outside.

Address:
Palazzo Orsini Pio Righetti (also called - Palazzo Pio Righetti/ Palazzo Orsini Pio/ Palazzo Pio)
Piazza del Biscione, 95-99
00186, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Parione (Navona-Campo de' Fiori) (Roma centro)
Palazzo Orsini Pio Righetti is Shown By "Map H Zone" As "26"
Bus: H - 63 - 116 - 116T - 630 - 780
Tram: 8

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