In the Roman Monti Rione, on the edge of the Quirinale hill and overlooking the Trajan markets, Villa Aldobrandini has been reopened to the public, with its ancient marbles, valuable paintings and a stunning seventeenth-century hanging garden.
The fascinating story of Villa Aldobrandini begins in 1566, when Monsignor Giulio Vitelli bought a villa with a secret garden in Monte Magnanapoli and a park that extended to the palace of Cardinal Scipione Borghese (later Palazzo Pallavicini Rospigliosi), later restored and embellished by the architect Carlo Lambardi. In 1600, Clemente Vitelli, son of Giulio, sold the Villa to Pope Clement VIII who, in turn, gave it the following year to his nephew, Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini. The nephew commissioned more embellishments from the architect Giacomo Della Porta who added the palace stairs, loggias and a continuous facade on the garden, embellished with trees that still exist, and furnished the avenues with statues, vases, monuments, seats, fountains and a fishpond, bringing it to the height of its splendour.
On the upper floors of the building, there was an extensive collection of works of art left to Cardinal Aldobrandini in 1598 by the Duchess of Urbino, Lucrezia d’Este. After the cardinal’s death, the Villa was inherited by the Pamphilj and Borghese families, who moved much of the Aldobrandini collection into the galleries of their palaces. Now in other locations and museums, the collection offered an overview of Italian painting from the 1500s and early 1600s, with works by Giovanni Bellini, Tiziano, Dosso Dossi and of the Venetian and Ferrara schools, as well as that of the Carracci, Raphael and the Roman scene. In the sixteenth-century pavilion, there was Roman painting depicting a wedding scene known as the Aldobrandini Wedding, discovered in 1601 and now preserved in the Vatican Museums. Between 1811 and 1814, the Villa was the home of Count Sextius de Miollis, French governor in Rome, and then returned to the Aldobrandini until 1926, when it passed to the Italian State.
The palace and part of the garden were assigned to the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, while the park, with the three pavilions, went to the Municipality of Rome. Following a design by Cesare Valle, in 1938 a staircase for the new public entrance on Via Mazzarino was built: during the demolition of the boundary wall along Via Mazzarino, a vast archaeological complex was revealed, consisting of the curvilinear monumental façade of a large building, with at least two floors, in a system of terraces leaning against the slope of the hill on which the villa stands.
The Villa Aldobrandini gates have reopened thanks to the Capitoline Superintendency. The ancient fountains have been recovered, the furnishings renovated, the irrigation system restored, the paving reconstructed, the paths reorganized, the ancient marbles restored, as well as the bases that support the statues of the garden and the the deteriorated architectural elements of the pavilions have been recovered. Numerous species of trees and flowers, including the ancient camellias were cared for, and the vast archaeological complex, located near the Traiano Markets, close to important roads such as Via Nazionale, Largo Magnanapoli and Via Panisperna, has been secured.
Visiting hours: from 7 am to sunset
For more information: Capitoline Superintendency