“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
—Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)
The doors of Rome are many and varied. Most are closed for privacy.
We visited Villa Torlonia simply because it was near our first hotel and we were glad we did. The main house was once inhabited by the wealthy Torlonia family hense the villa's name. During the war the villa was rented by Mussolini.
The most interesting site on the grounds of the villa is the Casina Della Civette or Owl House. The nobleman who owned the villa moved out from the main villa when Mussolini moved in. He occupied a building known then as the Swiss Cottage, but he embellished it with several motiffs which earned it the name owl house. The house has lovely stain glass windows depicting owls, swans and irises. The rail of the bridge has lovely carvings of snails. There are ceramci owls on the outside of the house and a beautiful snake carving up a corner of the outer walls. WWe only looked at the outside of the building, but it was wonderfu as we walked round we noticed more and more detail.
The estate the villa is set on is quiet and non-touristy. It has several follies. The only other people around were locals out for a jog or stroll. Enry to the grounds is free. There is a charge to go in the buildings which are now museums. Lovely and peaceful.
A small piazza, but worth looking for. The Piazza is dominated by the Palazzo Viminale, home to the Ministery of Internal Affairs.
Giovanni Giolitti, prime minister in the 1910's, decided to build a monumental construction joining together the two offices of the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Internal Affairs.
Giolitti wanted to build the new Ministry near the Quirinale and the Parliament. So Viminal Hill was choosen. Architect Manfredo Manfredi got the asignment.
My journey to the Villa Borghese gardens was a complete surprise. I was guided here by local artist, Sergio Angilella, and treated to a lecture on local history and a wonderful picnic. Why would I recommend the Villa to others? Well, I found that it was a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of the more crowded popular tourist destinations. If you like to walk, look at art, and simply find a place to sit and watch life and nature happen around you, then this is the place to go. The views are spectacular, and you even come across the most random of scenes. For myself, these were a make-shift campsite, and children climbing on sculptures.
There were many places to sit and rest, and also a guitarist singing beautiful Italian, Spanish and English melodies - Very romantic for couples. As a single traveller, it was just great to sit and listen. The walk back from the gardens towards the Spanish Steps presented me with a wonderful view of Rome, which I tried to capture in an image below.
There isn't enough that I could say about the Villa Borghese. Were I a better photographer, I would have better pictures to represent how beautiful it truly is... and if nothing else, it is free for the budget-minded travellers like myself (well, except the museums, but you can always get a Roma Pass to take care of the entrance fees.)
The Theatre now has a home in Rome
The Casa dei Teatri, located in the historic Villino Corsini in Villa Pamphili, is the result of a project dedicated to live performances from a multidisciplinary view, combining study and training courses with those of "creating" and "seeing" performances. For this reason, collaboration between the Department of culture and the Biblioteche di Roma not only ensures a modern service for specialists as an excellent promotion of theatre culture for a larger public but a program open to research and reflection involving the scenic world.
The Casa dei Teatri offers a unique scenario in Rome because of its original special collections and areas for exhibitions, meetings and projections and the coming opening of the multipurpose hall in the previous stables. Activities take place agreed upon with the Municipio Roma XVI and with the contribution of an important body such as the Ente Teatrale Italiano. The magnificent seventeenth century architecture houses study areas communicating with each other, to be used for exhibitions, meetings based on subjects and consulting facilities related to research, specialised studies and cultural investigations.
The library of the Casa dei Teatri is highly specialised and houses the Giancarlo Sbragia fund which boasts a historical heritage of material for those who study live performances of great value. Carmelo Bene's Immemoriale is a centre whose goal is to preserve, spread and promote both written and sound documentation concerning the work that Carmelo Bene carried out.
The Cinema Umberto Barbaro Library offers a large number of books and magazines, film scripts and stage designs, journals on the subject and photographs. During the summer, the activities of the Casa develop into a real and proper summer season offering music, theatre and performances for children on a large open air stage set up in the area in front of the Villino Corsini.
The Palazzo Spada is a palace in Rome that houses a grand art collection, the Galleria Spada. The collection was originally assembled by Cardinal Bernardino Spada in the 17th century and added to by his grand-nephew Cardinal Fabrizio Spada (1643-1717), and by Virginio Spada (1596-1662). The palace is located in the rione Regola, at Piazza Capo di Ferro, 13, with a garden facing the Tiber, very close to the Palazzo Farnese.
It was originally built in 1540 for Cardinal Girolamo Capodiferro. Bartolomeo Baronino, of Casale Monferrato, was the architect, while Giulio Mazzoni and a team provided lavish stuccowork inside and out. The palazzo was purchased by Cardinal Spada in 1632. He commissioned Francesco Borromini to modify it for him, and it was Borromini who created the masterpiece of trompe-l'oeil false perspective in the arcaded courtyard, in which diminishing rows of columns and a rising floor create the optical illusion of a gallery 37 meters long (it is 8 meters) with a lifesize sculpture in daylight beyond: the sculpture is 60 cm high. Borromini was aided in his perspective trick by a mathematician.
The Mannerist stucco sculptural decor of the palazzo's front and its courtyard façades feature sculptures crowded into niches and fruit and flower swags, grotesches and vignettes of symbolic devices (impresi) in bas-relief among the small framed windows of a mezzanine, the richest cinquecento façades in Rome.
The Celian Hill, although within easy walking distance of the Colosseum and the forum, is an entirely different experience. remarkably quiet and peaceful, with some lovely churches (see tips on Santo Stefano Rotondo and Santi Giovanni e Paulo), the Case Romane 'hidden' Roman houses/street and the lovely, shady park of Villa Celimontana.
This is a nice place to take a picnic (there's a supermarket nearby in Largo Sanita Militaire, off Via Claudia), or a rest from the heat of midday. There are trees, and plants, and fountains (albeit rather small when I visited) , grassy slopes and a children's playground.
And rather good free toilets, hidden away behind a super construction of ancient Roman stonework which makes a very pretty rockery!
You can access the park from Clivio de Scauro, or from Via della Navicula (which follows on from Via Caudia).
Palazzo Madama currently house of the Senate of the Italian Republic.
It was built atop the ruins of the ancient baths Nero, next to Piazza Navona. The terrain had been acquired in the Middle Ages by the monks of the Abbey of Farfa, who later ceded it to France.
The new building was begun at the end of the 15th century and completed in 1505, for the Medici family. It housed two Medici cardinals and cousins, Giovanni and Giuliano, who both later became popes as Leo X and Clement VII, respectively. Catherine de' Medici, Clement VII's niece, also lived here before she was married to Henry, son of King Francis I of France in 1533.
The palazzo takes its name from Madama Margherita of Austria, illegitimate daughter of Emperor Charles V, who married another illegitimate son, Alessandro de' Medici and, after his death, Ottavio Farnese. Thus part of the art collection of the Florentine Medici family was inherited by the Farnese family.
The current façade was built in the mid 1650s by both Cigoli and Paolo Maruccelli. The latter added the ornate cornice and whimsical decorative urns on the roof.
After the extinction of the Medici, the palace was handed over to the House of Lorraine and, later, to Pope Benedict XIV, who made it the seat of the Papal Government. In 1849 Pius IX moved here the Ministeries of Finances and of the Public Debt, as well as the Papal Post Offices. In 1871, after the conquest of Rome by the newly formed Kingdom of Italy, the palazzo has been the seat of the Senato della Repubblica.
The Palace is open to the public every first Saturday of the month (not in August) from 10am till 6pm. No reservation is required and it is free of charge.
The Palace is not open to the public but every first day of the month you can visit the palace's main attraction: the Casino dell'Aurora. The casino overlooks the Piazza Quirinale and contains what is considered Guido Reni's fresco masterpiece: The "Aurora" ("Dawn" bringing light to the world).
Via XXIV Maggio, 43 (right in front of the Scuderie Papali)
10-12/15-17 the first day of each month (not on January 1st though!!)
Free of charge
Part of the same Palace is also rented out for congresses, meetings and gala dinners:
A must for Renaissance art/architecture lovers!!
It is located on Via della Lungara 230 in the Trastevere area, just beside the Tiber river.
It is not a huge place but it has great art works and many interesting stories/legends related to it:
-Triumph of Galatea by Raphael
-Loggia of Cupid and Psyche with Raphael's painting of the Three Graces
-Salone delle Prospettive (frescoes - upstairs) by Baldassarre Peruzzi
-The wedding of Alexander and Roxanne (upstairs) by Sodoma
It is open only in the morning from 9am till 1pm Mon-Sat. Entrance fee is Euro 5 per person.
Visitor's help desk can be contacted at tel. +39.06.68027267 or send a fax to +39.06.68027513
More information on the web at:
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