Ospedale del Celio Rome

What is now the Ospedale del Celio in Rome is built on the area that used to be occupied by the ancient Villa Casali. After the unification of Italy a big part of the villa was ddestroyed to make space for new constructions.

Ospedale del Celio Rome


Ospedale del Celio Rome
The interior of the complex in 1915.

The villa started its existence as property of the family Massimo, who later sold it ti the family Teofoli. Later Marquis Mario Casali inherited it from his wife Margherita di Sertorio Teofili.

At the end of the 17th century, the Casali had a house constructed by the architect Tommaso Mattei. They also had an enormous garden laid out.

In those days the main road through the villa faced the Santo Stefano Rotondo Church, while the side roads ended at the apse of the Santi Quattro Coronati Church.

In 1871 the city decided to develop the area. The owners of the land were supposed to build houses and the city would take care of the infrastructure.

Initially most of the villa was saved. However, in 1884, having decided to build a military hospital on its grounds, the city bought everything and five years later completely destroyed it. More than 50000 m² of green area disappeared.


The new military hospital was constructed between 1884 and 1889. It was designed by Colonel Luigi Durand de la Penne together with the architect Salvatore Bianchi.

It consists of a series of 30 pavilions, connected by galleries and metal walkways.

Works of  art

Ospedale del Celio Rome - Antinoo Casali
The Antinoo Casali, now in the Ny Carlsbergh Glyptotek in Copenhagen.

Of the works of art collected by Cardinal Antonio Casali many were lost. Others ended up in Copenhagen’s Ny Carlsbergh Glyptotek. These include the “Casali Sarcophagus”, the “Antinoo Casali” and a mosaic depicting the “Rape of Europe”.

During excavations for the foundations of the hospital several ancient structures were unearthed.

The Basilica Hilariana was built by the pearl merchant Manius Publicius Hilarus. One of the most interesting finds was a mosaic with a depiction of the evil eye, which can now be viewed in the Antiquario Comunale del Celio. The building consisted of a porticoed courtyard surrounded by various rooms. It was probably used as a sort of temple for the followers of the goddess Cybele, who was know as the Magna Mater (“Great mother”) and was a very important deity in ancient Rome. The base of a statue dedicated to Hilarus himself, was also found in this spot.

Other ruins uneartehd in the area include those of the house of the Simmaci, a senatorial family in the Imperial era.

Ospedale del Celio – Piazza Celimontana 50, Rome

Palazzo Barberini Rome

The Palazzo Barberini is home to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica (National Gallery of Ancient Art) and faces the Piazza Barberini in Rome. The present exhibition at the museum is dedicated to Michelangelo and some of his followers. A second seat of this museum can be found in the Palazzo Corsini.

Palazzo Barberini Rome

Address. opening hours and admission

Address: The building has a facade on the Piazza Barberini, but the official address and entrance to the museum is at the Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13 – Rome (tel. +39 064824184 or 064814591). Metro: Barberini (line A). Opening hours: 08.30 to 19.00. Closed: Monday, 1 January, 1 May, 25 December. Admission: 7 Euro. Discount: 3,50 Euro. For special exhibitions there is a surcharge. (Note: This information only applies to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica which is based in the palace. The rest of the building can only be visited on very special occasions.)

History and description

Before Maffeo Barberini (the future Pope Urban VIII) acquired it in 1625 the grounds were owned by the Sforza family. They were used as a vineyard and contained only one, small, building, the Palazzetto Sforza.

Carlo Maderno, assisted by his nephew Borromini, started its construction 1627. After his death, in 1629, Bernini took over. The latter completed work on the palazzo in 1633.

After the death of Urban VIII, Pope Innocent X Pamphili confiscated the building. In 1653 it was returned to the Barberini family.

There are 3 tiers of arched windows. For the top floor windows Borromini created a perspective that suggests more depth than there actually is. The two sets of stairs leading to the piano nobile were created by Bernini (the one on the left) and Borromini (the right one). The helicoidal staircase was also designed by Borromini.

The Barberini Bees - Palazzo Barberini Rome
The Barberini Bee, a family symbol.

At the back there are two symmetrical wings extending from the main block, creating a kind of courtyard. The garden at the back was called “secret” because it could not be seen from outside. The monument in the garden is dedicated to Bertel Thorwaldsen.

Several famous artists contributed frescoes to the Palazzo Barberini: Pietro da Cortona did the ceiling of the Salone, while a.o. Giuseppe Passeri and Andrea Camassei were responsible for the piano nobile.

On November 4, 1950, the European Court of Human Rights was officially created in the Palazzo Barberini, by signing the European Convention on Human Rights.

A recently found mithraeum in the rear of the building is thought to date from the 2nd century AD.

Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13 – Rome

Palazzo Bonaparte Rome

The Palazzo Bonaparte in Rome stands on the corner of the Piazza Venezia and the Via del Corso, the city’s most famous shopping street. It is called thus because Napoleon‘s mother lived here from 1818 until her death in 1836. From October 2019, part of the palace will be used as an exhibition space. The first exhibition was devoted to impressionistic painters.

Palazzo Bonaparte Rome

Address, opening hours and entrance fee

The address of the Palazzo Bonaparte is Via del Corso (Rione: Trevi). Bus: 40, 64. Unfortunately at the moment the building can only be seen from the outside.

History and description

Palazzo Bonaparte Rome
The central building in the photo is the Palazzo Bonaparte.

The original name of the building is Palazzo D’Aste Rinuccini. Nowadays it is actually called Palazzo Misciatelli, but since everyone still calls it Palazzo Bonaparte it is better to use this name.

The palace was built by the architect Giovanni Antonio De Rossi. The building was commissioned by the Marquises Giuseppe and Benedetto D’Aste. Construction lasted from 1657 to 1677.

Just before the end of the 17th century the Palazzo was bought by the Marquis Rinuccini. It remained in the hands of his family until the French Cardinal Joseph Fesch bought it for his half-sister Maria Letizia Ramolino Bonaparte, who had been banned from France.

In 1905 it came into the hands of the Misciatelli family and since 1972 it has been the property of the insurance company AssItalia.

According to tradition, Napoleon‘s mother, after losing her eyesight, often sat on the balcony. Her companion used to describe what was going on in Piazza Venezia.

Palazzo Bonaparte Rome
Palazzo Bonaparte

The Palazzo Bonaparte has one facade on Via del Corso and one on Piazza Venezia itself. The balcony on the corner is not present on early sketches of the building and is therefore a later addition.

The eagle that adorns the piano nobile belongs to the coat of arms of the Bonaparte‘s. The tympanums above this piano nobile are vaulted, while those on the second floor are triangular.

The facade on the Via del Corso side looks the same, but is longer and has 9 instead of 5 windows.

The alley around the Palazzo Bonaparte is called Vicolo Doria. On this side there is a courtyard that allows sunlight to reach the atrium.

More Napoleon

For lovers of the French Emperor: Rome also has a small museum dedicated to Napoleon.

Via del Corso/Piazza Venezia Rome

Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi Rome

The Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi is a historical building between the Piazza dei Santi Apostoli and the Via del Corso in Rome. A number of famous architects, including MadernoBernini and Vanvitelli, have contributed to the building’s development.

Weetjes Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi Rome

Opening hours and admission

The palace is still owned by the Odescalchi family. Visitors are not allowed.

Address and public transport

The address of the Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi is Piazza dei Santi Apostoli, 80 – Rome. Bus: 40, 60, 64, 70, 117, 170, H, N7, N8, N9, N15, N18.


Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi Rome
The Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi in an engraving by an unknown artist.

The Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi has existed since the 15th century, although it was much smaller at the time. The original owners were the Benzoni family. When Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi acquired the building in 1622, he had it completely renovated by Carlo Maderno.

The next owners were the Colonna, who around the middle of the 17th century sold it to Cardinal Fabio Chigi. The Cardinal commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to design the facade. At the time the facade was the present left part of the building, delimited by the first eight pillars.

In 1745 Baldassarre Odescalchi, the next owner, had Nicolò Salvi and Luigi Vanvitelli widen this facade.

After a fire in 1887 the facade needed to be restored. At the same time Raffaele Ojetti renovated the facade on the Via del Corso side. Baldassarre Ladislao Odescalchi had ordered him to take the 15th century Florentine palaces as his example.

The building has a big courtyard, which was designed by Maderno . The central fountain in this courtyard is adorned with two dolphins and an eagle inside a chalice, plus the Odescalchi coat-of-arms.

The palazzo also hosts one of the very few Caravaggio paintings that are private property. The painting in question is the “Conversion of Saint Paul”, which was probably commissioned by Tiberio Cerasi in order to enliven his chapel in the Santa Maria del Popolo Church.

Piazza dei Santi Apostoli, 80 – Rome

Roman Aquarium and House of Architecture

The Acquario Romano (“Roman Aquarium“) is located in the center of a small park in the Esquilino district in Rome. It was built towards the end of the 19th century in a style typical of the period, called Umbertino, after the then king of Italy. Originally an aquarium, the building has held several functions during the time of its existence. At the moment it is the seat of the Casa dell’Architettura (“House of Architecture“).

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Piazza Manfredo Fanti, 47 – Rome. Tel.: +39 06-97604598. Metro: Vittorio Emanuele (line A). Monday to Friday from 10.00 till 19.00. Closed: Saturdays and Sundays. Admission: Free. The garden is open from 09.00 till sunset (Saturdays and Sundays from 09.00 till 13.00).

Roman Aquarium

The Roman Aquarium was designed by Ettore Bernich, who used ancient Roman architecture as an inspiration, and built between 1885 and 1887. The architect responsible for the actual construction was Pietro Garganico.

The avant-corps is modeled on the triumphal arches, while the shape of the building itself is reminiscent of the Pantheon. The building is decorated with pillars, half columns, statues in niches and various representations of fish and other sea animals.

Although it always kept its original name, it only functioned as an aquarium until the year 1899. The complex doubled as a fish farming school and a fish hatchery. You could also buy expensive live fish there, in case you wanted to eat something you couldn’t get at a normal market.

The two statues flanking the entrance represent Fishing and Navigation. The group of sculptures crowning the facade represents Venus’ carriage, pulled by a Triton and a Nereid. The entrance hall is decorated with frescoes and a number of statues in niches. It leads to a central room, which is oval in shape and characterized by a number of cast iron columns and a skylight.

Home of Architecture

In the course of the 20th century it was variously used as a venue for parties, skating rink, theater and office space. After having been more or less abandoned it was reopened in 1984, first as a museum and nowadays as the Casa dell’Architettura. This institution is meant to promote contemporary Roman architecture and hosts conferences and exhibitions.

Garden of Architecture (Giardino dell’Architettura)

In the garden around the Aquarium some ancient Servian Walls are still visible, together with ruins of a building from the Imperial Age.

Piazza Manfredo Fanti, 47 – Rome

Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini Rome

The Palazzo Valentini is a historical building in an area that used to be part of Trajan’s Forum in Rome. It is the present seat of the Citta Metropolitana di Roma Capitale, which is really the Province of Rome.

Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via Quattro Novembre, 119/a or Foro Traiano, 85 – Rome (tel. +39 06 67661; +39 06 22761280 reservations). Opening hours: From 09.30 till 18.30. Closed: Tuesdays, January 1, May 1, December 25. Admission: 12 Euros; age 6-17: 8 Euros; age 0-5, handicapped: Free. These prices do not include the obligatory 1,50 Euro reservatio fee. There are guided tours in English at 09.30, 13.30, 14.00 and 14.30.

Palazzo Valentini

Palazzo Valentini was commissioned by Cardinal Bonelli and constructed by Fra Domenico Paganenelli. Construction, in an area that used to be part of Trajan’s Forum, lasted from 1583 to 1585. In the mid-17th century it was acquired by Cardinal Imperiali, who had it enlarged, after a design by Francesco Peparelli.

The palazzo gets its name from Vincenzo Valentini, a banker who bought it in 1796 and who later (1830) had the neoclassical facade facing Trajan’s Forum built.

The building has a central courtyard that contains some classical sculptures. The facade shows an enormous entrance with Ionic columns that support a balcony. The windows of the first floor are surmounted by triangular architraves, while those of the second floor have simple frames.

On the second floor a late 16th century coat of arms of Cardinal Bonelli can be seen.

In 1873 the Italian State bought the Palazzo Valentini to use as the seat of what was then called the Province of Rome.

Domus Romane

The Domus Romane found underneath the Palazzo Valentini were built in the Imperial Age. These patrician’s houses were owne by the most powerful families of the age. They were decorated with impressive mosaics, polychrome floors and wall ornaments.

Virtual reconstructions show the space as it supposed to have looked in those days.

The tour ends with a huge model of the neighborhood in the Imperial period and of the Palazzo Valentini itself at various points in history.

A highlight is an underground space in front of Trajan’s Column, which probably served as a public or religious meeting point. The space is characterized by enormous blocks of marble and the pedestals of the biggest columns of antiquity. Inscriptions on the laterizio brick walls indicate that the building was constructed during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. A virtual reconstruction of Trajan’s Column itself allows for a close look of the reliefs adorning the monument.

Via Quattro Novembre, 119/a

Palazzo Torlonia Giraud Rome

The Palazzo Torlonia Giraud is a historical building in the Via della Conciliazione in Rome.

Palazzo Torlonia Giraud Rome

Address and opening hours

Het adres van het Palazzo Torlonia is Via della Conciliazione 30 – Rome. Bus: 23, 34, 40 62, 280, 982, N11. Rione: Borgo. Het gebouw is niet toegankelijk voor toeristen.

History and description

Palazzo Torlonia Giraud Rome
The Palazzo Torlonia in an 18th century engraving by Giuseppe Vasi. The Via della Conciliazone did not exist yet.

The Palazzo Torlonia is a smaller version of the Palazzo della Cancelleria. Because of its likeness many people think it was designed by Andrea Bregno, although Vasari claims it was Bramante‘ s work.

Originally the Palazzo Torlonia Giraud was called the Palazzo Castellesi.

It was Cardinal Castellesi who, in 1496, started construction of the building. The cardinal had become wealthy exploiting the English dioceses of Bath and Wells, given to him by his friend Henry VII. In 1505, when construction had not even been completed yet, the cardinal came to be without money. He gave the palace to Henry VII, who turned it into the residency of the English Ambassador.

It was also Henry VII who commissioned Polidoro da Caravaggio to paint the frescoes on the walls.

When Henry VIII was crowned king a schism took place and the Palazzo was confiscated by the Holy See. It then became property of the Borghese family.

In 1720 the building came into ownership of count Giraud and one century after that it was acquired by the French Tourian family. This family had become rich by providing Napoleon’s troops with food during his occuption of Rome. The name Tourian was later Italianised and became Torlonia.

Giovanni Torlonia restored the building and also made it taller. As a result the frescoes that used to adorn the facade were lost. The entrance in the Via dei Corridori has inscription dedicated to Giovanni.

The main entrance was designed by Antonio Valeri in the 18th century. The coat of arms above this gate is that of the Torlonia.

The design of the courtyard is ascribed to Raphaël. It is framed by a portico and adorned with statues and bas reliefs. Two big marble 19th century fountains adorned with bas reliefs are place against the back wall.

In the 17th century the back of the building was connected to the Passetto del Borgo by means of a small wooden bridge. It is still possible to see where this bridge was connected to the wall.

Via della Conciliazione, 30 – Rome

Villa Farnesina Rome

The Villa Farnesina is an architecturally important Renaissance building in the Trastevere district in Rome. The villa is particularly famous because of a number of frescoes by the painter Raphael and his pupils.

Villa Farnesina Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via della Lungara, 230 – Rome (tel. +39 06 68027268 or 06 68027397). Opening hours: From 09.00 till 14.00. Closed: Sundays and public holidays. Admission: 6 Euros; over 65’s and age 14-18: 5 Euros; age 10-14: 3 Euro; age 0-10: Free.

History and description

Villa Farnesina Rome
Villa Farnesina

The Villa Farnesina was commissioned by the wealthy banker (and treasurer of Pope Julius II) Agostino Chigi and designed by Baldassare Peruzzi. At the time it was of course not called Villa Farnesina yet.

Peruzzi had designed a U-shaped building, with 5 open loggias between the arms of the U. The original entrance was in the northern loggia, while the present entrance is in the southern part, which is made of glass. Construction was finished in 1510.

Unlike most palazzi of the period, the Villa Farnesina was not built to be a sort of castle, but rather as a summer residence. It was also meant to impress guests with its opulence.

In 1577 the villa was acquired by the Farnese family (hence Farnesina). Later the Neapolitan Bourbon family bought it and after that it was the property of the Spanish Ambassador in Rome for a while. Nowadays the Villa Farnesina belongs to the Italian state and houses the Accademia dei Lincei (a scientific academy) and the Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe.

At one point Michelangelo made plans to connect the Villa Farnesina by means of a private bridge to the Palazzo Farnese across the Tiber, but these were later aborted.

Both the loggia and the most important rooms of the Villa Farnesina are open for visitors.

Works of art in the Villa Farnesina

Raphael - Villa Farnesina Rome
Raphael’s “Triumph of Galtea”

The first floor salone was painted by Peruzzi to be a trompe-l’oeil of an open loggia with a city in the background. You have to stand at a specific spot for this to work though.

Sodema was responsible for the paintings of scenes of the life of Alexander the Great.

The frescoes on the first floor representing the myth of Cupid and Psyche are Raphael‘s work, as is the Triumph of Galatea. The frescoes were commissioned by Chigi.

Other frescoes were created by Sebastiano del Piombo, Giulio Romano and Il Sodoma and were inspired by the poet Angelo Poliziano‘s work Stanze.

Villa Farnesina – Via della Lungara 230, Rome

Casina Valadier Rome

The Casina Valadier is built on the highest point of the Pincio Hill in Rome, on what used to be known as the Collis Hortulorum, where the wealthiest families of the city owned their gardens.

Casina Valadier Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Piazza Bucarest – Rome (tel. +39 06 69922090). Opening hours restaurant: 12:30 till 15:00 and 19:30 till 23.00; opening hours cafe: 11.30 till 17.00.

History and description

As the name says, the building was constructed by the architect Giuseppe Valadier, between the years 1816 and 1837. Valadier was a logical choice of builder, since he was also responsible for the new look of the Piazza del Popolo.

Before Valadier built his neo-classical palazzo , there used to be another building called the Casino della Rota in the same site, which in its turn had been constructed on top of the ruins of an ancient cistern.

After World War I the Casina Valadier became an important place for Rome’s cultural and political elite and its guest book includes names as diverse as Gandhi, Pirandello and Strauss.

The Casina, which had been turned into a restaurant in 1920, was closed in 1990 for restorations that would end up taking 14 years.

Piazza Bucarest  – Rome

Villino Hüffer Rome

The Villino Hüffer is a historical building in the Via Nazionale in Rome. The palace can be seen to the left of the Palazzo delle Esposizioni. It is the present seat of the Historical Archives of the Banca d’Italia. The bank acquired the building in 2001 and also had it restored. Most of the rooms still have the original decorations.

Villino Hüffer Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via Nazionale, 191 – Rome (tel. Banca d’Italia: +39 06 47921). District: Rione Monti. Bus: 40, 64. Opening hours and admission: The building can only be seen from outside.


The Villino Hüffer was built towards the end of the 19th century by the French architect Jules A.F.A. Pellechet. Construction lasted from 1880 till 1883. The owner of the building was the enormously wealthy German businessman Wilhelm Hüffer.

In 1870, after the start of the war between France and Prussia, Hüffer had sold his business and decided to move to Rome. He initially settled in the Palazzo Borghese. In 1879 he bought the land along the Via Nazionale and had his villino built.

He also contributed to a reconstruction of other landmarks in the area, including the Quirinal Gardens.


The ground plan of the building, which consists of three floors, is rectangular in shape. The main entrance to the palace is on the side that faces the garden. The iron gate is decorated with the initials of the former owner. Just like the overhanging roof this gate was made in France, by the Maison André.

The atrium is characterized by two-colored marble, columns and bas-reliefs.

Most of the original decorations inside the building are still intact. Stairs lead to the piano nobile, which has its rooms laid out around the central ballroom. This room is decorates with paintings of mythological and musical figures by the artist Annibale Brugnoli. Brugnoli also painted the central part of the ceiling, which is further decorated with elaborate stucco ornaments.

The surrounding rooms (billiard room, dining room, Costanza‘s room, smoking room and bathroom) also contain the original decorations. Especially the intricately carved ceiling decorations ar impressive.

Via Nazionale, 191 – Rome