If you are in Rome for few days you could insert in your “things to do” a visit to Ariccia, a small town in the “Castelli Romani”, a wonderful panoramic area south of Rome where nature and architecture are meeting in the best way. It’s about 25 kms from Rome.
The main square of Ariccia was rearranged, together with the palace that overlooks it, in the middle of ‘600 by Gianlorenzo Bernini, by order of the Chigi family, owners of the building (and lords of the town).
The palace was built in the middle of the 15 hundreds by the Savelli, with a simpler structure, a classic rectangular block. Then it was transformed into a Baroque residence by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, by adding two wings protruding toward the beautiful park and four towers at the corners. The project was completed by Carlo Fontana. In front of the Palace, as to increase its scenery, is the church of SS. Mary of the Assumption, also designed by Bernini, the church remembers, deliberately, the Pantheon of Rome.
The Palace has been in the properties of the family Chigi until recent times and was acquired only in 1988 by the town of Ariccia. Now is an interesting museum and seat of part of the services of the town hall
Having passed such a little time since the house was still inhabited by the Chigi family, by entering one has the feeling of being invited to visit a private home, one of the few where you can see all the original furnishings.
On display are the clothes worn by both family members and service uniforms, wall coverings made of tooled leather, pressed into thin sheets and decorated with oil paintings or even gold foil, stuck by the heat and decorated over by punchingon it hot iron stamps with different designs, not to mention a large collection of paintings, mainly of Baroque masters, including many family portraits.
In the halls of Palazzo Chigi were filmed in 1962 the main scenes of “Il Gattopardo” by Luchino Visconti (book by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa del1958) set in a rich and noble Sicily.
Around the palace is a large park (28 hectares), part of the original property that was left in the wild for many centuries to let nature undisputed queen of the place, the park was intended mainly for hunting. In the park you will find: fountains, monuments, archaeological finds, and an old aviary of 1628.
At the time the park is not open because restoration.
The Palace is owned by the town of Ariccia and is a wonderful setting for weddings and private parties, for conventions and film shoots.