Monday, February 13, 2012

Villa Aurora-Ludovisi-Boncompagni, Feb 11th,2012

entrance to the villa aurora on a snowy Saturday morning

Villa Aurora built in 1570, redesigned in the shape of a cross by Carlo Maderno after 1620,  at the request of Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi

A Michelangelo satyr in the garden.  they have the papers showing this was attributed to Michelangelo.

front entrance to villa flanked on both sides by these wonderful slave statues (98 a.d). The other 2 are in the Palazzo Farnese.

The Ludovisi-Boncompagni crest with the Ludovisi 3 bars and the Boncompagni dragon.
A staircase in the Villa designed by Carlo Maderno.

detail of the caravaggio ceiling.  Juno perhaps pushing away the idea of the earth as the center of the universe

Caravaggio ceiling with his face on the figures

View of entire Jupiter, Pluto and Neptune ceiling which is on oil on fresco painted in cardinal del monte's (original owner of villa) alchemy room in 1597. Believed to be the only ceiling painted by Caravaggio. It is very small.

 Colorful marble flooring of entrance hall which goes back to the time of the sallustian gardens. Only piece in the villa which dates to that time.
on entrance floor, Guercino's Aurora fresco (1621), thus the villa Aurora.

Princess Rita Ludovisi-Bomcompagni who led a lovely and very gracious tour of  her home

the tree under which Henry James would sit and write
detail of "La Fama" ceiling by Guercino, first floor

the 17th century ceiling by Guercino "La Fama". has never been restored

details of some wonderful cherubs by Valesio

more cherubs spelling out Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi's name with the banner
wall painting of istanbul in the dining room

sitting in the Papal chairs, as close as we will ever get I believe

Villa Aurora

gates from street to Villa in Saturday's snow
The thawed and just well-fed group
Street scene nearby Villa, not a usual Roman sight!

the Pomerancio cherub ceiling in the landscape room

The Pomerancio ceiling is surrounded by landscape scenes by Brill, Domenichino, and others

marble flooring in the chapel

our just reward- lunch in the nearby  WARM Lebanese restaurant

a warming lebanese syrah

Shish Tarouk (chicken)

a lamb dish

Had a great tour on a snowy Saturday of the Villa Aurora, the home of Prince Niccolo' and Princess Rita Ludovisi-Boncompagni. Princess Rita, an American from Texas married Prince Niccolo' in 2009. He is a direct descendant of Pope Gregory XIII, the inventor of the Gregorian calendar.
The tour began with a power-point presentation by Corey Brennan of the American Academy informing us of the history of the Villa and the surrounding area which were the gardens of Saullust in Roman times, property originally belonging to Julius Caesar. The area was sacked in 410 by the Goths but the gardens were not finally deserted until the 6th century. In the early 17th century Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, nephew of Pope Gregory XV (Alessandro Ludovisi) acquired 89 acres of vineyards and small plots in this area and created a complex of gardens and small buildings. He acquired the Villa Ludovisi, built in 1620, from Cardinal Del Monte.  The only remaining part of this Villa Ludovisi is now incorporated into the U.S. embassy buildings.  Cardinal Ludovisi is remembered as a connoisseur and patron of arts. He paid for the construction of the Jesuit Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio, where the Ludovisi-Boncompagni still have their family chapel, and Palazzo Ludovisi (now Palazzo Montecitorio). The Villa Ludovisi was used to display much of Cardinal Ludovisi's vast art collection, many pieces of which are now in the Palazzo Altemps-Ludovisi-Boncompagni. Much of the area occupied by the gardens was divided into building lots and filled in following the break-up of Villa Ludovisi after 1894, as Rome expanded as the capital city of Italy after the unification of Italy. However the casino (now Villa Aurora) of the Villa remained. Cardinal Ludovisi employed Carlo Maderno to rebuild the casino (villa Aurora) after 1620.  The Villa has two lovely ceiling frescoes painted by Guercino, as well as the small Caravaggio ceiling, and paintings by Domenichino,Brill, Pomerancio and Valesio. The princess was very happy to share the history of the Villa and show us its priceless treasures. After two hours in a very cold villa on a snowy day we were all ready for some heat and lunch. We headed to the nearby Lebanese restaurant La Mandaloun and enjoyed a great lunch while the snow fell.

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