Giardino e Casino Pontificio nel Vaticano (Book 10) (Day 8) (View C2) (Rione Borgo)
Pius IV was the third Medici Pope in the XVIth century, but he did not belong to the Florentine family. He was from Milan and very often he added Mediolanensis to his name. Unlike Leo
X and Clemens VII he was a truly religious man, worried about limiting the
damages of the Reformation. Like Leo X and Clemens VII he was a great humanist,
with a wide culture. The little casino and ninfeo built for him by Pirro
Ligorio in 1562 reflects these two basic aspects of his personality. The view is taken from the green dot in the small 1748 map here below.
In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Loggia with eastern granite columns;
2) Nymphaeum with statues; 3) Circular courtyard with two porticoed entrances; 4) Steps leading to the courtyard.
The only noticeable change can be found in the ground floor mosaics which at Vasi's time were covered by statues. The image to the right was taken in 2003 from the Vatican Museums.
The complex structure designed by Pirro Ligorio is made up of the Casino (above), the Ninfeo (center) and an oval courtyard with fountains and statues (below). The rich decoration, the statues, the shape of the spaces are all references to the past that Pius IV and Pirro Ligorio felt would foster spiritual growth. Here the Pope spent nights with philosophers and artists discussing poetry and sacred subjects. In the background one of the statues in the courtyard.
The decoration was still inspired by the Greek myths rediscovered during the Renaissance. A large relief shows the infant Zeus being fed by Amaltheia a she-goat representing a maiden-goddess. On the top of the building Urbanus VIII added his coat of arms.
The buildings have a very rich and interesting decoration with many
coats of arms of Pius IV, but the mosaics are simply beautiful and have
some hidden reference to the pills of the Medici.
Next plate in Book 10: Casino al Pigneto del Marchese Sacchetti
Next step in Day 8 itinerary: Casino di Belvedere
Go to or to Book 10 or to my Home Page on Baroque Rome or to my Home Page on Rome in the footsteps of an XVIIIth century traveller.