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