All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in January 2010.
Veduta del Giardino Farnese
D3) (Day 6) (View D7)
In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
The Plate (No. 88)
Rome during the Papal rule experienced many floods because the river bed was not dredged properly and over the centuries its width decreased; this view by Giuseppe Vasi shows that in the XVIIIth centuries mounds on both sides of the river narrowed the space between the two banks. In addition Giardino Farnese was already projecting from the right bank.
The view is taken from the green dot in the small 1748 map here below.
In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Palazzino Farnese (La Farnesina);
2) Other buildings for the family; 3) Palazzo Corsini; 4) Casino Farnese al Gianicolo.
3) and 4) are shown in detail in other pages. When Vasi made reference to the family, it was not to relatives of the Farnese, but to their household servants, as the word derives from Lat. famulus, servant; the ancient Romans used gens to mean an enlarged family.
The view in January 2010 (in the background the Monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi to the far right)
In the late XIXth century the river bed was enlarged to the detriment of the garden which today is very small; in addition high walls were built on the river bank. Today it is difficult to see the small casino on the Janiculum which Vasi mentions in the plate; it is located to the left of the Monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi.
The building for the servants was modified in the XIXth century and the loggia on the roof of la Farnesina is smaller than in the XVIIIth century.
The villa was built between 1508 and 1520 for Agostino Chigi, a very rich banker
from Siena who made a fortune by financing the popes in return for concessions such as the mining of the mines of alum at Tolfa or of salt-works. According to tradition in 1518 at the end of a party held in a (lost) loggia near the Tiber Agostino Chigi ordered that the precious wares used for the banquet should be thrown in the river (although he is suspected of having put nets
in the water to recover them).
Agostino Chigi was on such good terms with Pope Julius II that he was allowed to add to the six mountains and a star of his coat of arms, the oak which was the heraldic symbol of the Della Rovere, the family of the pope (you may wish to see a coat of arms of Pope Alexander VII, a member of the Chigi family). He was buried in the family chapel at S. Maria del Popolo.
In 1590 the property was bought by the Farnese, who for some time considered linking it to their palace on the other side of the river with a boat bridge; because the villa was smaller than the palace it was called la Farnesina (-ina being a suffix which means
Detail of the cornice
The villas built in the second half of the XVIth century (such as Villa Medici) had a decoration which covered almost every inch of their main fašade. The walls of la Farnesina appear rather bare with the exception of the cornice and of a relief above the entrance of the rear fašade (you can see it in the image used as background for this page); we know however that they had a (lost) graffito decoration.
(left) A fountain composed with ancient elements; (centre) fountain with a fleur-de-lys, the Farnese heraldic symbol; (right) ancient fragments
The gardens were embellished with ancient statues and reliefs, but when all the Farnese properties were acquired by Charles VII, King of Naples, all movable works of art were relocated to Naples or Caserta, where the king built a very large royal residence. The villa retains however very fine frescoes by Raphael, Giulio Romano, Sodoma and Baldassare Peruzzi who was also the designer of the building.
Read William Dean Howells' account of his visit to this site in 1908.
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Palazzino e giardino Farnese
Sulle sponde del Tevere, ove si crede essere stati gli orti di Geta, si vede il delizioso giardino col magnifico
casino eretto dal famoso banchiere Agostino Ghigi per dare un lauto pranzo a Leone X. con molti
Cardinali. Contiene questo nel pianterreno tre gallerie con alcune camere di riposo; nella prima dipinse
Raffaella da Urbino il convito degli Dei, con altre favole ajutato da Giulio Romano, Gaudenzio Milanese, e
Raffaellino del Colla; i fiori per˛ e frutta intorno alla volta con alcuni animali sono opere di Gio. da Udine.
Baldassare Peruzzi, che fu l'architetto della fabbrica, dipinse nella volta della seconda galleria il carro di
Diana, e l'istoria di Medusa, con alcuni stucchi finti, ma tanto simili al vero, che Tiziano a prima vista
credette che fossero di rilievo, come realmente sembrano a tutti. Si osserva in una lunetta una gran testa
fatta di chiaro e scuro, quale si dice essere stata fatta dal Buonarroti per riprendere la maniera minuta di
quelle pitture. Sotto il cornicione poi si vede la celebre Galatea dipinta di mano di Raffaelle da Urbino. In
queste due gallerie sono in oggi buona parte delle statue e busti che stavano nelle stanze del palazzo
Farnese; e ultimamente vi Ŕ stata ancora portata la celebre statua di Agrippina, madre di Nerone, che
stava negli orti Farnesiani di campo vaccino, come giÓ dicemmo. Nell'appartamento superiore evvi una
stanza dipinta da Giulio Romano, ripulita ultimamente coll' assistenza di Carlo Maratta, ed altre pitture
sonovi di figure, e di architettura; ma perchŔ hanno patito, non meritano considerazione: onde
passeremo a vedere il vicino
Palazzo di Agostino Ghigi
Medesimamente col disegno di Baldassare Peruzzi fu eretto il palazzo, che siegue al piccolo Farnese:
ma perchŔ lasciato in abbandono, resta ora in stato quasi da rovinare, e serve ad uso di fenile.
Next plate in Book 5: Ponte Sisto
Next step in Day 6 itinerary: Porta S. Spirito