Villa Doria Pamphili

Villa Doria Pamphili

Villa Doria Pamphili, on the Gianicolo, the Roman Janiculum, is the largest public landscaped park of Rome. It has an area of 1.8 km². It was bought in 1965–1971 by the City of Rome from the Doria-Pamphilj family—the family favor the orthography of the long i. When Girolamo Pamphilj died in 1760 without male heirs, a battle broke out among the possible heirs, which was settled in 1763 when Pope Clement XIII Rezzonico granted to prince Giovanni Andrea IV Doria the surname, the arms and the vast properties of the Pamphilj, by right of the marriage between Giovanni Andrea III Doria and Anna Pamphilj [] . Hence the villa's double name.

Among its many beauties and more obvious pleasures, the Villa is one of the best sites for bird-watching and for jogging in the city.


The nucleus of the villa property, still called the "Villa Vecchia", already existed before 1630, when Panfilo Panfili, who had married the heiress Olimpia Maidalchini (1591-1657), bought the property where the ancient "Via Aurelia" commences just outside the Porta San Pancrazio in the ancient walls of Rome. He set about buying up neighboring vineyards to accumulate a truly princely holding, referred to sometimes by contemporaries as the "Vegna Panfili", the "Pamphili vineyards" of the western part of the property, but more often known as "Bon Respiro", for it stood on healthy high ground, above the malarial "miasma" of Rome, and offered spectacular views, a requirement that was becoming more essential in Baroque villa planning than it had previously. The Pamphili preferred to call it the "Villa dell'Allegrezze"—ignoring the stricture in Ecclesiastes 7:4 that gave rise to Edith Wharton's "House of Mirth"— and resorted there, enjoying it in the nature of a villa suburbana. A more expansively sited new villa, the "Casino", was begun in 1644—the year that Giovanni Battista Pamphili became pope as Innocent X—by his nephew, Camillo Cardinal Pamphilj, whom Innocent appointed cardinal; work progressed on it in stages until 1652. The design, after a more extravagantly modern design by Francesco Borromini had been rejected, was placed in the hands of the Bolognese, Alessandro Algardi, who is better known as a sculptor, assisted by Giovan Francesco Grimaldi (1606-1680) who has a modest reputation as a landscape painter but who was responsible for the decor of the "galleria" in Palazzo Borghese. [Howard Hibbard, "Palazzo Borghese Studies - II: The Galleria" "The Burlington Magazine" 104 No. 706 (January 1962), pp. 9-20.] For such a project, the designers and the patron had need of the services of a trained professional. Carlo Rainaldi, from a family of mason-architects and engineers, served in this capacity. He had suffered bitter disappointment the same year when he was replaced by the young Borromini on the Pamphili church of Sant'Agnese in Agone in Piazza Navona, for which he had just completed the foundations.

The villa was designed as a complement to the Pamphili collection of sculptures both ancient and modern, and Roman antiquities: vases, sarcophagi and inscriptions, Most of the Pamphili marbles are today in the Capitoline Museums. The somewhat crowded exterior rhythmically alternates windows with niches containing statues both antique and modern, and busts in hollowed roundels, with panels of bas-reliefs, giving a rich allure that was somewhat conservative for its date, looking back towards the Villa Medici, more Mannerist than Baroque. It offered a forestaste of the richly stuccoed and frescoed interiors, where the iconographic program set out to establish the antiquity of the Pamfili, a family then somewhat parvenu in Rome, with origins in Gubbio. Inside, Algardi provided further bas-reliefs and stucco framing for the heroic frescoes drawn from Roman history painted by Grimaldi. The gardens on the sloping site were laid out from ca 1650 by Innocent's nephew, prince Camillo Pamphili, formalizing the slope as a sequence of connected parterres that flanked the villa, and extended in a lower level below, framed in "boschi" or formalized woodlands that rose above clipped hedges, and eventually arriving at a rusticated grotto in the form of an exedra, from which sculptured figures emerge from the rockwork. The exedra, now grassed, formerly enframed a "Fountain of Venus" by Algardi, which is preserved in the "Villa Vecchia", together with Algardi's bas-reliefs of putti representing Love and the Arts that were formerly here. The fountain spilled into a small cascade that let into a short length of formal canal, which was intended to remind the viewer of the similar "Canopus" at Hadrian's Villa—another programmatic connection of the Pamphili with Antiquity.

Elsewhere, the "Giardino del Teatro" is the setting for summer concerts of 16th and 17th century music.

Through the 18th century features were regularly added; fountains and gateways occupied Gabriele Valvassori and other virtual house architects retained by the Pamphili and their heirs.

After the Napoleonic era, more sweeping changes were made. The parterres that were formal extensions of the "casino" were retained but replanted with patterned "carpet bedding" colorfully supplied from greenhouses by the old villa; today the parterres have been replanted in 16th-century style, with panels of scrolling designs in close-clipped greens set in wide gravel walks. In the sloping outer gardens the changes were more extensive, recasting them in the naturalistic manner of English landscape gardens. The grounds, filled with many surprise features and picturesque incidents, sweep down to a small lake at the bottom, which already had an air of atmospheric maturity when it was painted in the 1830s by [ Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps] . In the wooded, natural-appearing landscapes with clumps of characteristic umbrella-like stone pines along horizons stand statues and vases, which evoke a nostalgic antiquity. The 18th-century English landscape gardens such as Stowe and Stourhead that were the inspiration for this style aimed to bring to life the Italian landscapes with Roman ruins painted by Claude and Poussin. A notable difference is that at the Villa Doria Pamphili's "giardino inglese" the Roman remains are likely to be genuine. The site of the Villa contained several Roman tombs that gave up vases, sarcophagi and inscriptions, which were added to the Pamphili collection.During the defense of the short-lived Roman Republic in 1849–1850, Garibaldi hastily fortified three of the villas on the outskirts of Rome. The Villa Doria Pamphili lay near the scene of some of the fiercest hand-to-hand combat by the Porta San Pancrazio, as students joined Garibaldi's legions to defend Rome from the French troops that were eventually successful in reinstalling Pope Pius IX. In the course of the French bombardment, the prominently-sited neighboring Villa Corsini—called "dei Quattro Venti" for its airy perch— was destroyed. In the aftermath prince Doria-Pamphili bought the extensive Corsini grounds, almost doubling the Villa Doria Pamphili's already extensive grounds, and erected on the former villa's site the monumental commemorative arch, also "of the Four Winds", which has ever since provided the major access to the Villa's grounds. The Corsini "casina" near it, called the Palazzino Corsini, was not harmed. Today it is the site for changing art exhibitions.

Around 1929 it was suggested that Villa Doria Pamphili could be annexed to the new state of Vatican trough the Lateran Treaty, but in its definitive form the Villa wasn’t included. [ [,9171,723587,00.html "Christus Vincit!"] , "TIME Magazine", January 28, 1929]

The two sections of the extended villa grounds are divided by a street that runs partly in a narrow defile. In celebration of the Jubilee Year of 2000, a curved and arching pedestrian bridge by Massimo d'Alessandro was built to join the two sections more amenably.

Extension constructions extended and altered the "Villa Vecchia" as well, which was given a somewhat Romanesque façade that is not wholly successful. For the first time, Medieval sculptures were added to the Doria-Pamphili collection of Classical antiquities. At the turn of the 20th century, Art Nouveau interiors were added by prince Doria Pamphili. The Villa, long secluded from public use, was bought by the Italian State in 1957 and used as the seat of an official Ministry. Today it is open to the public as a museum, with its collection of antiquities and sculptures.



* [ Riccardo Cigola, "Villa Doria Pamphili":] photos and captions
* [ Sovrintendenza Beni Culturali: Museo di Villa Doria Pamphilj:] (in English)
* [ Roberto Piperno:] Villa Doria Pamphili. Fountains, parterres and sculpture.
* [ Roberto Piperno:] (Pamphili monuments in Rome)
* [ Footbridge by Massimo d'Alessandro, 2000]
* [ Galleria Doria Pamphilj] : genealogical sketch

Further reading

*Barsali, Isa Belli. 1983 (revised edition). "Ville Di Roma" (Milan: Rusconi)
*Coffin, David R. 1991. "Gardens and Gardening in Papal Rome". (Princeton: Princeton University Press)
*Benocci, Carla 1988. "Villa Doria Pamphili". (Milan: Electa)
*Schezen, Roberto and Marcello Fagiolo ("date"). "Roman Gardens : Villas of the City" Photographs. Accompanying text by Marcello Fagiolo.

External links

* [ Villa Doria Pamphili - a Gardens Guide review]

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