Around Rome: visiting Villa Giustiniani Odescalchi in Bassano Romano, set of successful movies
If you are in Rome, you cannot miss Villa Giustiniani Odescalchi, a dwelling located in Bassano Romano (province of Viterbo), less than 60 km from the capital. The building - open to the public every Saturday morning from 11.00am to 12.30pm - is worthy of all your attention. How about some small heads up then?
1. The history of Villa Giustiniani Odescalchi
Villa Giustiniani Odescalchi has deep roots in the Middle Ages, when the entire structure was a simple feudal castle. The building then became property of the Anguillara family who made the first changes to it, between the 15th and 16th centuries. However, the most important changes took place in the seventeenth century when the residence became a real Renaissance building, and some decorative works were carried out involving the lodge and multiple rooms located on the noble floor.
The works, commissioned by the Marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani, also concerned the immense park connected to the interior rooms by a drawbridge. The last interventions date back, instead, to the end of the 17th century, when the famous theatre was realized: you can admire it on the ground floor. The Giustiniani family was soon forced to hand over the building to the Odescalchi family due to financial difficulties.
However, the latter lost interest in the entire complex, which is thus in a progressive state of obvious abandonment. Villa Giustiniani Odescalchi was acquired, in 2003, by the Italian State which defined a restoration program that particularly interested the garden and the hunting residence. The dwelling was reopened to the public, after the renovation works, on May 2016.
2. A short description of Villa Giustiniani Odescalchi
Palazzo Giustiniani Odescalchi, with a rectangular plan, has a large entrance door overlooking Piazza Umberto I and it is totally made of local stone; on its sides you can admire four peperino busts that culminate in many marble heads dating back to the 2nd century A.D. In the courtyard there are, however, some traces of the frescoes bearing the signature of Antonio Tempesta and a tiny fountain with a statue. An elegant staircase leads you to the open gallery whose vaults are finely decorated (the frescoes you see date back to two distinct historical moments).
Continue your tour taking a look at the noble floor and its marvelous rooms in the Hall of the Caesars or the Throne to admire the busts of the 12 Caesars, the splendid collection of weapons and the suggestive stone fireplace. Furthermore, each room is characterized by decorations of different motifs: for example, you can distinguish the Giustiniani coat of arms, the four seasons, the story between Amore and Psiche (Bernardo Castello, 1605), a representation of the port of Genoa and Scio (respectively the birthplace of the Giustiniani and the island that overlooks the Aegean sea, where they spent several years for flourishing commercial exchanges), multiple biblical references to Moses, the Legends of Diana, the fall of Fetonte (Albani, 1609-1610) and much more. Finally, the domed vault (painted to recreate a fascinating optical effect) and the Salone del Cavaliere with the representation of eternal happiness are worth of mention (Paolo Guidotti Borghese, 1610).
The masterpiece of the residence is the ground floor, where there is a small traditional English style theatre (Vincenzo Odescalchi indeed stayed in the residence of Henry VII of England): inside of it, you can see the wooden boxes, to receive the most noble social classes, and a reserved area, instead, for the people with direct access from the courtyard. Finally, most of the heritage preserved in the residence (firearms, statues, busts, sculptures, various types of jewelry) was moved to the Odescalchi Palace (located in Bracciano) owned by the family with the same name.
3. The park of Villa Giustiniani Odescalchi
The park surely is the real flagship of the entire residence. It has been redeveloped many times, by Vincenzo Giustiniani, since 1605. The young man, engaged in numerous trips in Europe, was pleasantly impressed by the green spaces surrounding the French and English dwellings. He decided to follow these models and so connected the garden of Villa Giustiniani Odescalchi to parts of woods and long avenues where they could walk (especially during the summer season). There are lush hedges, evergreens of all kinds, a classic example of an Italian garden and small squares finely furnished with stone sculptures and pieces.
Allow yourself, therefore, a relaxing walk among holm oaks, cypresses, chestnut trees, spruces (wanted by Sofia Braniska, wife of Livio II Odescalchi) and different types of fruit trees (peach, pear and cherry).
4. The Casina di Caccia
The Casina di Caccia, inside the park near the palace, is on three different levels and it is elegantly decorated - you can admire several stuccoes, while there are no frescoes worthy of note -; the inhabitants of Bassano Romano have also renamed this place 'La Rocca' by virtue of the unkempt appearance that distinguishes it.
The hunting residence, which however has its own particular charm, preserves the style of the residence and it is embellished by a crenellated roof terrace and a central tower.
That's the end of this wonderful virtual journey that led you to discover Villa Giustiniani Odescalchi, a chest full of treasures you cannot miss. Remember the building is open to the public every Saturday morning (from 11.00 am to 12.30pm); bring your camera with you, wear comfortable shoes and lose yourself in this charming home in its elegant frescoed halls and in an enchanting park, where you can enjoy a relaxing walk among centuries-old trees, of different species.
Do you want to stay in Rome?
For this location we recommend Hotel Ariston, the ideal starting point to discover Rome!