"Villa Aldobrandini on the Quirinal hill" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Tuesday 3rd May 2011
Villa Aldobrandini on the Quirinal hill occupies the territory of the ancient Baths of Constantine. The villa was built in 1575 with the name Orti dei Vitelli and a little building by Carlo Lombardi. Later it passed to the Camera Apostolica and in 1600 Clement VIII Aldobrandini presented it to his nephew cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini. The latter had the building restored and enlarged, and placed in the garden and the palace a celebrated art collection, which later was spread all over Europe.
The allegories depicted in the villa and garden generally refer to the Aldobrandini family: Atlas bearing the World in the central niche of the Teatro delle Acque alludes to Pope Clement VII; and the statue of Hercules about to help him, to Pietro Aldobrandini. The Hesperidian nymphs recall that mythological and paradisiacal garden and, through transposition, the enchantments of the Aldobrandini gardens. In the Stanza di Apollo, the Frascati hills are compared with Parnassus, the sacred mountain of the Muses, and Apollo with Cardinal Aldobrandini.
The building hosted a rich picture-gallery among which the famous Aldobrandini Wedding, the mural painting of the first century after Christ which today is kept in the Vatican Library. Over the years the villa underwent changes, the most traumatic being in 1876 when it took on the appearance of hanging gardens with the opening of Via Nazionale.
The design of the fountains attracted a lot of attention: they had to please both the eye and the ear and the cascades of Villa Aldobrandini were renowned because they activated some musical instruments held by statues portrayed in the act of playing them. The complex of fountains, niches, statues was called Teatro delle Acque (Water Theatre). In addition to the cascades, Villa Aldobrandini has both very elegant and formal fountains and more surprising "monstruos" fountains hidden in the rocks of the park. As the painter Federico Zuccari contributed to the decoration of the casino, maybe he suggested these strange faces which are very similar to those which decorate the windows of his own palace in Rome.
Successively the Villa became a property of the Pamphili, and during the Napoleonic occupation it was occupied by the military commander of the French troops, who organized here meetings of aristocracy and famous personalities of the epoch. The garden of Villa was reduced due to construction of Via Nazionale in 1876. In 1920 the palace was enlarged one more time by Carlo Busiri Vici.
The Villa, which was put up for sale by Giuseppe Aldobrandini, changed hands several times. The garden even risked being used for housing development and the villa being turned into a hotel. However, by a Royal Decree Law of 1926 the Italian Government finally purchased the Villa in the public interest. In 1927, a large part of the garden was assigned to the city to be used as a public park while the villa itself became part of the Demanio Statale (State property)" and at present it is a property of the State and is adapted for the seat of International Institute of Law with its library.
Notwithstanding the dispersion of the art collections and original furnishings, Villa Aldobrandini is still today an architectural complex of considerable historical and cultural significance on account of its place, over the centuries, at the centre of events in the life of Rome.
Via Mazzarino, 1,
On the Quirinal hill
00184, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Monti (Colosseo-S.Giovanni-S.Maria Maggiore) (Roma centro)
Villa Aldobrandini is Shown By "Map E Zone" As "101"
Bus: 70,75, 170, 57, 64, 65
Tel: +39 06 678 7864
Villa Aldobrandini Reference Website: http://www.villa-aldobrandini.it/