Casino dei Principi
The current appearance of the Casino dei Principi is due to the transformation that the building underwent between 1833 and 1840 as desired by Alessandro Torlonia.
The work was supervised by the architect Giovan Battista Caretti, who – together with a group of painters, craftsmen,decorators and sculptors – carried out a complete transformation of the previous country building, through an added storey and new decoration both inside and outside.
The building presents, on the short sides, two monumental marble entrances, with ancient columns in pink marble and cast iron vases on the attic floor, while traces of monochromatic paintings of the frieze representing the triumph of Alexander the Great in Babylon on the main façades; one could watch the shows that used to be organised in the underlying amphitheatre, which was destroyed in 1910 during work to widen via Nomentana.
The walls of the three rooms on the piano nobile were completely covered with tempera paintings portraying views of ancient Greece, of ancient Rome and of the Gulf of Naples: only these remain, and along with the rare polychrome marble and mosaic floors present also in the other rooms, they have been subjected to a thorough intervention of restoration. Inside the small villa a museum has been set up exhibiting some of the works that were part of the great Torlonia Collection, whose most substantial core is still private property, while a few works have been lost over the years.
Some of the sculptures on display come from the production of the eighteenth-century sculptor, restorer and antiquarian, Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, all of whose works were bought by Prince Giovanni Torlonia; they also come from the excavations carried out on the family’s estates and partly from the decorations of the main building inside the villa.
Some of the works on display: the Cavaceppi collection includes four statues, which unfortunately are acephalous, the Pudicizia, Sacerdotessa, Diana and Fauno; a copy of ancient originals kept in the Capitoline Museums and originally placed at the entrance to the villa in Via Nomentana,where they were replaced with copies; the small puttos representing the four seasons, which are copies of the seventeenth-century originals by Camillo Rusconi kept in Windsor Castle; three large stucco reliefs, by Antonio Canova, portraying the Death of Socrates, the Dance of the Feaci and Neoptolemus killing Priam these were originally placed in the dining room of the Villa at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
The exhibition tour – which also comprises numerous ancient statues including busts of emperors, dressed in togas, altars – ends with the furniture from the bedroom of Giovanni Torlonia, which were an example of fine handicraft in Genoese Baroque style. Two large winged sphinxes, the family’s coat of arms with a comet and aligned rosettes, a huge statue of Hera and a marble bowl with integrations from the Renaissance age are placed outside the casino.
Address Via Nomentana, 70
Visiting Hours Open for exhibitions, every day, from the last Sunday of March to September 30 from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm; from March 1 to the last Saturday of March and from October 1 to the last Saturday of October from 9.00 am to 5.30 pm; from the last Sunday of October to February 28 from 9.00 am to 4.30 pm; Dec. 24 and 31 from 9.00 am to 2.00 pm; Closed Monday, 25 Dec., 1 Jan., 1 May
Telephone 06 82059127
Price € 3,00; concessions € 1,50