Here is a real pearl of Italian 16th-century architecture: Palazzo Farnese in Caprarola, Viterbo.
It is a mannerist wonder, an aristocratic retreat, a delightful villa and a fortified residence, designed by Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola (who transformed an early project by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger) and built between 1559 and 1575.
Alessandro Farnese the Younger – created a cardinal at the young age of 14, by his grandfather, pope Paul III – entrusted Vignola with reviewing Sangallo’s designs, although he maintained the formidable pentagonal structure that gives the building a peculiar grandiosity, with a harmonious mix of military and civilian architecture lines.
Alessandro Farnese was one of Rome’s most famous patrons of the arts in the 1500s: his grandfather could not look after all the works he undertook to make the city more monumental, so he delegated him, allowing him to meet and work with all the best creative minds of his time.
Farnese contacted the most important painters to decorate his luxurious home, from Taddeo Zuccari to Antonio Tempesta, from Jacopo Zanguidi to Raffaellino da Reggio.
Even Vignola frescoed some of the interiors. But his masterpiece is the majestic Rohal Staircase, a helical ramp resting on thirty peperino columns.