Trastevere is a lovely residential neighborhood of Rome just across the Tiber from the centrale storico (historic city center)… a taxi or bus ride away or a rather lengthy but enjoyable walk on a sunny spring or autumn day.
It is a must see for an authentic side of the city with wonderful local restaurants and little shops and cafes and bars and a piazza which boasts one of the oldest and most beautiful (and Byzantine!) churches in the city. The seafood, pasta, pizza, and deliciously baked rustic breads has a more quiet vibe than the historic center of the Eternal City. The Almost Corner Bookshop is there and sells books in English, too, and Trastevere has an ancient portico and a sumptuous small villa museum built in the sixteenth century, the Villa Farnese, owned by a Sienese banker named Agostino Chigi, who commissioned the architect Baldassarre Peruzzi to build him a splendid little palazzo.
The interior of the Villa Farnese is decorated with frescoes by Raphäel Sanzio, Sebastiano del Piombo, Giovanni da Udine, Giovanni Bazzi (known as il Sodoma), Giulio Romano, Giovanni Francesco Penni, and Baldassarre Peruzzi himself… among their studio artisans and apprentices, as well.
At the end of the sixteenth century this Villa was purchased by the famous Cardinal Alessandro Farnese from whom it takes its name “Farnesina” to distinguish it from the Palazzo Farnese on the other side of the Tiber (which I will be writing about in detail soon).
The Villa was also used by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, and is used for other important Roman events and groups today.
It is a “boutique museum” so its intimate setting is a perfect place to wander around and soak up the atmosphere of what it was like to live in a Renaissance villa, and to imagine the Farneses wandering the halls or Raphäel painting the walls…
The garden is small and lovely to view, with architectural details and lush trees and other hidden gardens among the grounds you can peek at through gates. It’s one of Roma’s many green spaces and respites from the crowds.
Villa Farnesina is open from Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm, closed on Sunday and holiday.
The website is villafarnesina.it
All photographs are romepix.com, shot on analog film in spring 2008.
The Villa Farnesina in Rome, built in the early six¬teenth century for the rich sienese banker Agostino Chigi and now owned by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, is one of the noblest and most harmonious creations of the Italian Renaissance. It is a masterpiece in which architectural design and pictorial decoration fuse in¬to a single marvellous synthesis. The sober volumet¬ric and spatial layout of the Villa, devised by the architect Baldassarre Peruzzi, is indeed the per¬fect setting for its rich interior decoration, boasting frescos by great masters such as Raphael, Sebastiano del Piombo, Giovanni Antonio Bazzi known as Sodoma, and Peruzzi himself.