The Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini is a villa with notable 19th-century park in the English romantic style and a small botanical garden. The park and botanical garden are open daily.
The estate was begun in the late 17th century by Clelia Durazzo Grimaldi, who established the Giardino botanico Clelia Durazzo Grimaldi at that time. Today's remarkable park was created by her nephew Ignazio Alessandro Pallavicini after he inherited the property.
The park was designed by Michele Canzio, set designer for the Teatro Carlo Felice, and built between 1840 and 1846. It covers some 97,000 m² of hillside behind the villa. Although recognizably in the English romantic style, the garden is highly theatric, to the point of being organized as a series of scenes forming a play with prologue and three acts (Return to Nature, Memory, Purification). Structures and statues through the garden form focal points to this libretto.
When the park opened in September 1846, on the occasion of the VIII Congresso degli Scienziati Italiani, it quickly gained national fame. In 1928 its current owner, Matilde Gustinani, donated both park and botanical garden to Genoa for use as a public park. Through the remainder of the 20th century, the garden fell into some disrepair, and indeed was threatened in 1972 by construction of a nearby highway. Its restoration began in 1991, however, in honor of Columbus' discovery of America. As of 2006 about half of the park is open for visitors.
In 2017 the park was elected the most beautiful garden in Italy.
The park contains two ponds, a dozen notable structures, various statues, and an extensive grotto. The grotto represents a Dantesque Inferno, with walkways and subterranean lake through which the visitor may ascend to Paradise. In former years, visitors could explore the grotto by boat. Structures include a Coffee House in the shape of triumphal arch, Rustic House, Madonna's Chapel, Mausoleum of the Captain, Temple of Diana, Flower House, Turkish Temple, Obelisk, and Chinese Pagoda.
The park also contains a number of plantings of botanical interest, including mature specimens of Araucaria bidwilli, Cedrus libani, Cinnamomum camphora, Jubaea chilensis, Notelaea excelsa, Firmiana simplex, Quercus suber, Podocarpus macrophillus, lots of extotic palms and a wonderful stand of some 160 Camellia japonica.References:
The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.
The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).
With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).
Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.
The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.
The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.