"Villa Ludovisi, Rome" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Friday 29th April 2011
The Villa Ludovisi was a suburban villa in Rome, built in the 17th century on the area once occupied by the Gardens of Sallust (Horti Sallustiani) near the Porta Salaria. On an assemblage of vineyards purchased from Giovanni Antonio Orsini, Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte and others, Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi erected in the 1620s the main villa building to designs by Domenichino within thirty months, in part to house his collection of Roman antiquities, additions to which were unearthed during construction at the site, which had figured among the great patrician pleasure grounds of Roman times.
Its construction was begun in 1662 by cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, when he acquired previous Villa degli Orsini, the palace of which is now at Via Veneto bearing the name Palazzo Margherita. With the time the villa grew always bigger and bigger with the property bough by the Ludovisi around it. Thus, its maximum dimensions reached the territory between Via di Porta Pinciana, Porta Salaria, Porta Pinciana and Convents of S.Isidoro and of the Cappuccini. The reconstruction of former palace was directed by Domenichino, who arranged beautiful gardens as well. On the territory of the villa, which comprehended also Villa Verospi and Villa Borioni, were five palaces.
Villa Ludovisi has been all winter the residence of the lady familiarly known in Roman society as "Rosina", Victor Emmanuel's morganatic wife, the only familiarity, it would seem, that she allows, for the ground were rigidly closed, to the inconsolable regret of old Roman sojourners. The place takes, where it lies, a princely ease, and there could be no better example of the expansive tendencies of ancient privilege than the fact that its whole vast extent is contained by the city walls. It has in this respect very much the same enviable air of having got up early that marks the great intramural demesne of Magdalen College at Oxford. The grounds and gardens are immense, and the great rusty-red city wall stretches away behind them and makes the burden of the seven hills seem vast without making them seem small.
In the garden is a fine fountain with a tufo center. The overgrown avenues contrasting with the dramatic Roman walls inspired Stendal to declare in 1828 that the Villa Ludovisi's gardens were among the most beautiful in the world. A casina was added, largely to house the Cardinal's growing collection of Roman sculptures and inscriptions. In the Casino Boncompagni Ludovisi (dell'Aurora Ludovisi), with the remarkable illusionistic surround by Tassi, makes a squat, barrel-vaulted room seem towering. There is also a ceiling frescoed by Caravaggio (claimed), with the curious subject of alchemy, a popular subculture of Rome in the 17th century.
The villa passed to the ownership of the Boncompagni Ludovisi family, which in 1872 rented it to King Victor Emmanuel II. The King used the villa as residence for his lover, Rosa Vercellana. In 1885, despite great protests among the intellectuals, its last owner, Don Rodolfo Boncompagni Ludovisi, Prince of Piombino, sold the property to the Società Generale Immobiliare; it was divided into building lots. The sculptures were dispersed, and most of the buildings destroyed, the only one to remain being the Casino dell'Aurora. The Via Veneto was driven through its grounds, part of which are occupied by the American Embassy in Palazzo Margherita, and the Rione Ludovisi took shape, borrowing its district name from the cardinal and his villa.
Via Lombardia, 46
00187, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Ludovisi (Via Veneto) (Roma centro)
Villa Ludovisi is Shown By "Map E Zone" As "65"