Itinerary of the Week

Chiara Baldussi Student Life Assistant


November 9, 2016

Villa Torlonia and Coppedè style Neighbourhood

If you want to escape the traffic of the historical center and discover a new neighbourhood, follow our itinerary of the week!

Villa Torlonia

Full of towering pine trees, atmospheric palms and scattered villas, this splendid 19th century park once belonged to Prince Giovanni Torlonia, a powerful banker and landowner. The villa was designed by the neo-classic Architect Giuseppe Valadier. It was abandoned for decades after 1945, but recent restoration work has allowed it to be opened to the public as a museum owned and operated by Rome's municipality.

Don’t miss The Casina delle Civette (House of the Owls), results from a series of additions to the nineteenth-century “Swiss Cabin”, which was originally intended as a refuge from the formality of the main residence. From 1916 the building began to be known as the “House of the Owls”, probably because the motif of the owl is used widely in the decorations and furnishings.

Coppedè Area

Piazza Mincio is a fantastical art nouveau gem of XX century, which combines elements of Gaudi and Escher.

Each of the oddly arched and angled buildings surrounding this circular Piazza combines elements of every architectural style known to man: Gargoyles, Moorish tiles, Roman columns, cast iron chandeliers, Grecian urns, mosaics of Genovese sailing scenes, a Japanese goldfish pond. Often the elements are turned on their head: some of the Gargoyles under the eaves are actually angels, Ionic columns hold up nothing, the distinctively shaped head stones that should be at the top of an arch are placed at the bottom instead.

The Piazza is the center of the Coppedè Area, a collection of a dozen buildings commissioned and designed by the little known Florentine architect Gino Coppedè around 1900. Coppedè (1886-1927) designed the quarter and his atelier produced almost all of the artwork featured there; his lugubriously over decorated style was not very well received critically in an Italy moving into the fascist (and modern) period, but it was well enough liked in America, and found its way onto Italian transatlantic liners. Stone, marble and metal “appliques” cover the facades of his buildings: sea horses, spiders, bees, faces, roosters, lizards, and flying birds.