Villa Aldobrandini: a gem of the Castelli Romani
Villa Aldobrandini, in Frascati, is one of the Castelli Romani villas, attributable to the typology of Delizia villas (villas of delight), that started becoming widespread again during the Renaissance
Its origin is in fact due to a Roman aristocrat who, throughout the second half of the 6th century, realized a villa for his leisure, as well as other villas in the capital area and its environs.
Almost nothing of the original structure remains, however, as the villa was completely revised according to the will of Pope Clement VIII, who decided to give it as a gift to his nephew, the Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini.
Therefore, some of the most important artists of the roman scene were appointed to realize a villa worthy of such a family. The architect in charge of the project was, in fact, Giacomo della Porta, Michelangelo’s pupil who, between 1588 and 1590, had supervised the works for the conclusion of the dome of Saint Peter Basilica, after the death of his master.
In 1598 he devoted himself to Villa Aldobrandini, wonderful villa with an excellent location. It actually takes place on a high ground dominating the small town of Frascati, where an extraordinary garden develops with terraces and a nymphaeum that constitute a gem with few examples of similar extent. Carlo Maderno too collaborated during the final phase of the construction works; he was from 1603 papal architect and had worked to the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica.
No less important were the artists appointed to decorate with their frescoes the inner rooms of the Villa; among these, for instance, Cavaliere d’Arpino figures, who managed one of the most acclaimed studio of the Roman area: Caravaggio being just one of the artists who landed there.
Villa Aldobrandini was meant to symbolize, with its magnificence, the ambition of the Pope’s pupil; it resulted therefore in a majestic architecture with allegoric motives in the sculpture groups representing great feats. The nymphaeum statues are for instance connected to the myth of Hercules and to his strength and power; a statue of Atlas holding the terrestrial globe, is present too, which is thought to be dedicated to Clement VIII, who had to support and guide the Catholic Church on his own, in a time still disrupted by the Protestant Reformation and the English Reformation.
Opposite to a quite austere image of the main façade of the villa, which appears solid and sober, is the spectacularity of the gardens and of the waterworks following the terraces, them too part of the celebration of the family.
In a word, the Aldobrandini villa is a gem to rediscover, still property to this day of the descendants of the Aldobrandini family.