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Ferdinand Gregorovius' Walks - Genazzano

Genazzano is just a few miles after Palestrina and Gregorovius on seeing it from Via Labicana has the impression of watching a procession as if the houses were moving towards the castle of the Colonna on the top of the hill. Genazzano has only one gate which has some resemblance with those of Palestrina.

Gate and view of Genazzano
View of Genazzano and main gate

There is only one street in Genazzano going up towards the church of Buon Consiglio and the castle. The houses are very simple, only some gothic windows embellish them. On one of them there is a plaque commemorating the visits of Gregorovius.

Main street, gothic window and reference to Ferdinand Gregorovius
Main street, gothic window and reference to Ferdinand Gregorovius

The church of S. Maria del Buon Consiglio was (today a bit less) a famous sanctuary due to a sacred image which was miraculously moved from Scutari in Albania to Genazzano. Gregorovius attends the feast which occurs in September and he describes the costumes of the different peasants of the Roman Campagna. The popes used to make presents to the church: among them I noticed a finely embroidered chasuble, which was most likely started when Innocentius X was pope and completed after his death, under Alexander VII: this could explain why the design shows many doves (a reference to Innocentius X), but the chasuble bears the coat of arms of Alexander VII.

S. Maria del Buon Consiglio and embroidered chasuble
S. Maria del Buon Consiglio and embroidered chasuble

Martinus V, the only pope of the Colonna family, was born in Genazzano and used to return there very often. He enlarged and embellished the family palace and his coat of arms is still visible on one of the walls. In the XVIIth century the palace was given a gentler look by Antonio del Grande an architect who designed also the great gallery inside Palazzo Colonna in Rome. The balustrade is decorated with other heraldic symbols of the family.

Main view of Palazzo Colonna and heraldic symbols
Main view of Palazzo Colonna and heraldic symbols

The back of the palace shows clearly the first purpose of the building which was a fortress.

Older part of Palazzo Colonna and churches in front of it
Older part of Palazzo Colonna and churches opposite the palace

The courtyard is very finely designed and it is embellished by a fountain. When Gregorovius visited it, he found many headless statues (today only one is left).

The courtyard of Palazzo Colonna
The courtyard of Palazzo Colonna

Genazzano did not have a street suited for having a little walk, so Gregorovius used to walk outside Genazzano going from the Colonna palace to the abandoned church of S. Pio. He walked along the ruins of an aqueduct built by the Colonna to supply the palace with water. In the church of S. Pio (in poor condition) I found a coat of arms of Sixtus V.

Walk to S. Pio
Walk to S. Pio - the aqueduct

Gregorovius describes in detail the life of the peasants, oppressed by debts. The Colonna were entitled to receive a quarter of the yields and borrowing money was very expensive. He shows a deep knowledge of agricultural matters.

Immediately outside Genazzano in a little valley the Colonna built a little casino which they used for parties and games. The ruins have been restored and the site has some magic in it.

Renaissance Ninfeo
Renaissance Ninfeo

Next page

Introductory page on Ferdinand Gregorovius

Other walks:

The Ernici Mountains:

The Volsci Mountains:

On the Latin shores:
Nettuno and Torre Astura

Circe's Cape:
San Felice

The Orsini Castle in Bracciano

Subiaco, the oldest Benedictine monastery

See my Home Page on Baroque Rome or my Home Page on Rome in the footsteps of an XVIIIth century traveller

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