The residences of the Farnese family in northern Lazio will open to the public for a whole weekend, on October 24-25, 2015, for the Giornate Farnesiane organized by Associazione Dimore Storiche Italiane (Adsi) – Lazio Chapter.
The event is an opportunity for anyone interested in the beauty of history and architecture to visit the palaces and castles, both private and public, that the family built in Tuscia over the centuries – in Capodimonte, Carbognano, Ischia di Castro, Vasanello, Vignanello, Latera, Isola Farnese, Valentano, and many more charming towns.
The initiative’s program includes four concerts featuring harpsichordist Luca Purchiaroni in different historical homes tied to the Farnese family, and aims to create an ideal network of historical memories, connecting Tuscia to Parma and Piacenza, Rome, and the family’s collections now in Naples.
The Giornate Farnesiane are also meant to “highlight the importance of the role played by the private owners of the Farnese family’s palaces (Capodimonte, Carbognano, Ischia di Castro, Vasanello, Vignanello, Isola Farnese) in the upkeep of this important historical, artistic, and cultural legacy, not only for our country but also for the national and international community.”
Waiting for the wonderful program laid out for the weekend, our gallery offers a virtual visit to three of these residences.
The Farnese family was one of the most powerful in Italian Renaissance, and included figures such as Pope Paul III (born Alessandro Farnese), who convoked the Council of Trent in 1545, and Duke Alessandro Farnese, who fought heroically against the Turks in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
The three buildings we are showcasing were part of the Duchy of Castro, one of the two States – the other one being Parma and Piacenza – that Paul III created for his son Pier Luigi.
The first palace we present is the Ducal Palace or “Rocca” in Ischia di Castro, which some sources say was the oldest of the Farnese family’s residences. Antonio da Sangallo the Younger transformed a pre-existing 11th-century building into the splendid Renaissance structure we see today.
The second residence the public will be able to visit during the Giornate Farnesiane is Cozza Crispo Palace – also known as “Del Drago” – in Bolsena. It was built for cardinal Tiberio Crispo (1498-1566), son of Giovanni Battista Crispo and Silvia Ruffini. Ruffini had been Alessandro Farnese lover before he became Pope, and bore him four children who were step-brothers to cardinal Crispo.
Palazzo Del Drago is somewhere between a fortress and a place of leisure, surrounded by terraces and gardens. It was designed by architects Simone Mosca and Raffaello da Montelupo, built between 1533 and 1561, and decorated by mannerist painters of the Roman school, with monochrome frescoes in the beautiful Judgment Hall (Sala dei Giudizi) inspired by Pellegrino Tibaldi and Perin del Vaga’s works. In the years after Crispo’s death, the palace changed hands more than once – going to the Spada, Cozza, Caposavi, and Del Drago families over time.
The Rocca in Capodimonte is the third Farnese residence that will be available to the public during the special weekend.
The octagonal building towers over the town on Lake Bolsena, testimony to the will of Paul III, who described Capodimonte as “my peninsula”; it was, indeed, “one of the most pleasant places in the Duchy of Castro, for its peninsular conformation and the beauty of its surroundings” (according to a 19th-century source).
Again, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger was called to renovate the old square-layout castle. He added buttresses, the inner courtyard, the open galleries, and hanging garden.