All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to email@example.com. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in August 2010.
Palazzo Odescalchi (Book 4) (Map B3) (Day 3) (View C7) (Rione Trevi)
Giuseppe Vasi dedicated two of his etchings showing the monuments of ancient and modern Rome to Piazza SS. Apostoli: the first one shows Palazzo Colonna and Basilica dei SS. Apostoli and the view is taken from the southern end of the square; in the plate covered in this page the view is taken from the northern end of the square and it shows Palazzo Odescalchi and Palazzo Bonelli Spinelli.
The southern end of Piazza SS. Apostoli was modified in 1878 when Via di S. Romualdo, the narrow street which linked it to Piazza di Venezia was enlarged by pulling down the buildings on its southern side;
after WWI the new street was called Via Cesare Battisti.
Palazzo Odescalchi was originally a possession of the Colonna family; in 1622 it was sold to Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, nephew of Pope Gregory XV who commissioned Carlo Maderno a renovation of the building; because in the following year the cardinal sold back the palace to the Colonna only the courtyard and a few rooms were completed.
In 1664 the Colonna sold the palace to Cardinal Flavio Chigi, nephew of Pope Alexander VII (during that period the Chigi bought also a palace in Piazza Colonna). Gian Lorenzo Bernini, with the assistance of Carlo Fontana, unified the fronts of the
existing buildings by designing an entirely new fašade.
In 1693, after the death of Cardinal Flavio Chigi, the palace was leased to Cardinal Livio Odescalchi, nephew of Pope Innocent XI, who gathered an impressive collection of paintings and other works of art in his new residence; the heirs of Cardinal Livio sold the greatest part of the collection, but in 1745 they had enough money to buy the palace from the Chigi; they then enlarged it on its northern side with the assistance of Nicola Salvi and Luigi Vanvitelli; the architects respected Bernini's design, but they obviously could not avoid modifying the proportions of the building, which now appears excessively wide.
The coat of arms of the Odescalchi is among the most complex ones. It is made up of an eagle, a lion and six incense burners: because eagles and lions were portrayed in many other coats of arms, the incense burner ended up by being the Odescalchi's distinctive mark (the image used as background for this page shows a detail of the wrought iron gate of the palace).
The Chigi and after them the Odescalchi tried to enlarge their palace by acquiring the buildings behind it; they succeeded only in part, because they were unable to buy Palazzo Mancini Salviati. In 1887 a fire greatly damaged the rear part of their palace which overlooked Via del Corso. Prince Baldassarre Ladislao Odescalchi, whose wife was of Florentine origin, decided to build a fašade which resembled that of Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence; a choice totally incongruous with the character of the street; he gave a similar appearance also to a modern building in Prati.
The palace still belongs to the Odescalchi who are not very liberal in allowing access to their properties.
Cardinal Michele Bonelli, nephew of Pope Pius V, bought several properties in the area between
Colonna Traiana and Foro di Augusto which at that time was almost a swamp during rainy periods; he promoted its draining and opened
Via Alessandrina, a street named after Alessandria, his hometown town in northern Italy.
In 1585 he started the construction of a palace at the southern end of Piazza SS. Apostoli; it was designed by Domenico Paganelli,
a Dominican monk, who gave it the appearance of a small Palazzo Farnese.
In the early XVIIIth century the palace was rented to Marquis Francesco Maria Ruspoli, a great
patron of musicians, who in 1707 hosted George F. Handel; the first performances of some of his works took place in a large hall on the first floor. In 1752 the palace was sold to Cardinal Giuseppe Spinelli who split the hall into smaller rooms; he was the nephew of Cardinal Giuseppe Renato Imperiali and he decorated the building with eagles, the heraldic symbol of his uncle.
In his 1781 map Giuseppe Vasi designated the palace as Palazzo Rezzonico because it was leased to members of the family of Pope Clement XIII.
Next plate in Book 4: Palazzo S. Marco della Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia
Next step in Day 3 itinerary: Chiesa di S. Marco
Next step in your tour of Rione Trevi: Palazzo dell'Accademia di Francia