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Page revised in August 2012.
Bassano and Monterosi
The Giustiniani were admitted into the Roman aristocracy by Pope Paul V who gave them the title of Marquises of Bassano in 1605. Pope Innocent X, whose niece married a Giustiniani, improved their status by appointing them Princes of Bassano.
The Giustiniani established links with the most important Roman families through marriages. In 1777 Caterina Giustiniani married Baldassarre Odescalchi, a member of the family of Pope Innocent XI, and the Odescalchi inherited the title of Princes of Bassano in the XIXth century. This family however did not care much about their palace at Bassano, probably because they already had a castle/palace in a better location at Bracciano which is not far away.
Vincenzo Giustiani built a large palace which was linked by a bridge to a garden with a small casino. The building included a chapel and a small theatre and it was decorated with frescoes. After a long period of abandonment in 2003 it was acquired by the Italian State, but its restoration has not been completed yet.
In 1703 the Giustiniani promoted the enlargement and renovation of the parish church near their palace.
Vincenzo Giustiniani was a great and competent collector of works of art and not only of ancient sculptures as he bought 15 paintings by Caravaggio. Giustiniani published a detailed and illustrated catalog of his own collection (Galleria Giustiniana - 1631): its two volumes document more than 300 sculptures, reliefs and paintings and they include a view of the gardens at Bassano (it opens in another window). This explains why the main square of Bassano is decorated with four busts, although not very representative of the collection. Most of the works of art collected by Vincenzo Giustiniani were bought in 1826 by the King of Prussia and can be seen in Berlin.
The main crater of an extinct volcano formed Lake Bracciano. Several minor craters created shallow ponds which were subsequently drained to reclaim their land, but not that at the junction between Via Cassia and the roads to Ronciglione and Nepi, near the tiny town of Monterosi.
Monterosi is situated 23 miles north of Rome and it was mentioned in several XIXth century guide books the last stopping place prior to entering Rome. This however applied to those who travelled on foot because the carriages carrying Charles Dickens in 1844 and Ferdinand Gregorovius in 1852 left Ronciglione early in the morning, reached Monterosi at midday and entered Porta del Popolo in the afternoon. In that period Monterosi was stricken by malaria and foreign travellers would have been surprised to know that in the XVIIth century the Altieri, the family of Pope Clement X, had tried to turn the small village into a modern town (as they had done with more success at Oriolo on the opposite side of Lake Bracciano).
The main church of Monterosi was renovated by Cardinal Lorenzo Altieri (his coat of arms can be seen in the image used as background for this page). Some sources attribute the design of the church and of the family palace to Giovanni Battista Contini. The eight-pointed stars which decorate the interior are a reference to the heraldic symbol of the Altieri.
This church was built very near Via Cassia, probably as a chapel for pilgrims. Notwithstanding its small size it has all the features of a Late Renaissance Roman church.
The part of Monterosi which is located on higher ground is known as Borgo Aldobrandino, because it was developed by the family of Pope Clement VIII Aldobrandini. Madonna della Neve was adjoined by a small hostel for pilgrims so it was probably built for the 1600 Jubilee Year.
The 1871 census recorded a population of 867 inhabitants at Monterosi, but today, thanks to an upgrading of Via Cassia, the small town is considered within commuting distance from Rome and its population has grown considerably.
From Civitavecchia to Civita Castellana - other pages:
Civitavecchia, Allumiere and Tolfa
Oriolo Romano and Capranica
Nepi and Castel Sant'Elia
Latium was enlarged in the 1920s with territories from the neighbouring regions: the map on the left shows the current borders of Latium; the map on the right has links to pages covering towns of historical Latium: in order to see them you must hover and click on the dots.
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