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Casino di Villa Lodovisi presso Porta Pinciana (Book 10) (Map B2) (Day 2) (View B6) (Rione Colonna)

In this page:
 The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
 Today's view
 The Ludovisi retreat
 Palazzo Margherita
 Images of the Past
 Liberty in Rome

The Plate (No. 189)

Casino di Villa Lodovisi

The Ludovisi, later the Boncompagni Ludovisi, had two popes among their ancestors, namely Gregorius XIII (Boncompagni) and Gregorius XV (Ludovisi). Their coat of arms was the combined coat of arms of the two popes (see my background). 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) Small Casino; 2) View over a part of Rome; 3) S. Pietro in Montorio e Fontanone sul Monte Gianicolo. 3) is shown in detail in another page. The small map shows: 1) Small Casino; 2) Main Casino; 3) Porta Pinciana.

Small ViewSmall View


The view today

The whole area of Villa Ludovis was sold towards 1880 to build hotels, palaces and expensive estates. It is still called "Quartiere Ludovisi" and the main streets are called after the Ludovisi (left of Via Vittorio Veneto) and the Boncompagni (right of Via Vittorio Veneto).
It is still possible to see the small casino shown in the print (No. 1), but only from the air (the photo was taken from the green dot in the modern map of the area at a height of some 300 feet).
Read Henry James's account of his visit to Villa Ludovisi in 1873.
Read William Dean Howells' account of his visit to Villa Ludovisi in 1908.

The Ludovisi's retreat

The Ludovisi retreat

Encircled by high walls the small Casino still belongs to the Boncompagni Ludovisi. At the entrance old coats of arms of the Boncompagni (above) and of a Cardinal Ludovisi (below). The Casino is usually called Casino dell'Aurora after a famous fresco by Guercino. Other family members built their homes in the area. One of them (in Via Boncompagni) was bequested by Blanceflor Boncompagni Ludovisi to the Italian state. The nice coat of arms in the background comes from there.

Palazzo Margherita

Palazzo Margherita

The Boncompagni Ludovisi had their Rome palace in Piazza Colonna which was known as Palazzo Piombino as they had the title of Princes of Piombino, a little town in Tuscany. When the palace was pulled down to enlarge the central part of Via del Corso, the Boncompagni Ludovisi built a new very large palace on the site of their casino. The building is a work by Gaetano Koch who had a large role in the redesign of Rome after its annexation to the Kingdom of Italy. New hereditary laws introduced by the Italian government forced the Boncompagni Ludovisi to sell their casino to the Italian Royal Family (Savoia). The palace became the residence of the Queen Mother Margherita, the widow of the King Umberto I, shot by an anarchist in 1900. Queen Margherita was a woman of rare beauty and very popular and the palace was named after her (also a kind of pizza is named after her!). Today the palace hosts the Embassy of the United States. The fašade has references to the various owners: the dragon of the Boncompagni, the cross of the Italian Royal Family and the U.S. armouries.

Fašade of Villa Ludovisi

The fašade of the Main Casino is now hidden by Palazzo Margherita. The building was attributed in the past to the painter Domenichino, but some modern critics tend to attribute it to Carlo Maderno. The fašade has a fine coat of arms of Gregorius XV Ludovisi, which looks small when compared to that shown in the etching by Vasi (images of Palazzo Margherita and Casino Ludovisi by courtesy of Mr Tom Wukitsch, who also told me that the two tall trees on the piazza are still growing there, 256 years after Vasi published his drawing. They are lovingly maintained by the gardening staff of the Embassy).

Images of the Past

Images of the past (1)

The walls of Rome were also the walls of the Villa and they still retain some memories of the past. A niche in the walls has a gigantic bust of Alexander the Great: it was the final point of one of the great alleys of the Villa. The small fountain with the inscription Fons Ludovisia is a modern work which most likely made use of elements found in the Villa.

Liberty in Rome

Hotel Eden

In the plate Vasi shows a view over Rome and S. Pietro in Montorio e Fontanone sul Monte Gianicolo to indicate that the Villa had fine views. The Hotel Eden, built in 1889 in Via Ludovisi has a roof garden which allows the view over Rome shown in the plate.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:

Villa Ludovisi
Dal Card. Ludovisi nipote di Gregorio XV. fu eretta quella deliziosa villa con disegno del Domenichino, la quale ne' suoi amenissimi viali Ŕ ornatissima di statue, busti, bassirilievi, e marmi antichi di gran valore, come ancora ne' due casini, e per˛ farÓ pi¨ agevole rimettersi alla relazione del Custode, che notare quý tutte le sue raritÓ. In questa villa stette per terra l'obelisco, che vedemmo a giacere presso le Scale Sante, e che si crede spettasse agli orti di Salustio,che quivi vengono assegnati, i quali erano di sý fatta magnificenza, che servirono poi per diporto, e trattenimento delizioso agl'Imperatori.

Next plate in Book 10: Casino della Villa Albani fuori di Porta Salaria
Next step in Day 2 itinerary: Chiesa della SS. Trinità dei Monti
Next step in your tour of Rione Colonna: Porta Pinciana

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.

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