Villa Albani

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Villa Albani

Post  Yakima Canutt on Fri May 25, 2012 11:27 am

Along with Villa Adele and Villa Sarsina, it represents one of the three villas of great architectural interest in Anzio. Today inside the villa there is a health public centre for analyses and specialist examinations.

There was not a place which could satisfy more the needs, inclinations and wishes of Cardinal Alessandro Albani. Anzio would have provided him with prestige, wealth and fame, since he found there the right humus to feed his profound passion: the archaeology. A fertile land was waiting for anyone able to raise the blanket of centuries and discover those incomparable treasures that time had kept during a millenary lethargy.

For this purpose, the Cardinal ordered the construction of a country-house which would have given hospitality to him during the summer time and more importantly during the excavation of the numerous archaeological findings. A great deal of this archaeological patrimony risked being lost around Europe. In 1730 the Cardinal sold a group of statues for 25,000 scudi to the King of Poland. Fortunately, Pope Clemens XII Corsini bought some various collections of statues, busts and coins, that Albani, for illicit trade and to honour his illustrious guests, was dissipating.

Albani, however, was also an able administrator of his possessions. In his old age, he devoted himself to reorganising his celebrated collection which were admired by the most powerful families of that time, putting them inside his villa in Rome, that, in the end, turned out to be a residence planned as an immense museum. Unfortunately these works of art were removed from Anzio and, as was foreseeable, the majority of them was despoiled by Napoleon who purloined almost 300 pieces. Cardinal Albani purchased the first pieces of land around the villa in 1718, from the Cadolini-De Luca family; later on, in 1726, he took over other lots, through the proxy Carlo Celli, from the Hospital of the Poor and from the Collegiate Church of Nettuno.

The edifice was probably finished in the same year ( this fact is not certain owing to the elimination of the central part of the balustrade that caused the loss of the document regarding the registration of the early works). The name of the author of these works, even though unknown to the official chronicles, is erroneously indicated by popular tradition as the young Carlo Marchioni (1702-1786), designer of Villa Albani in Rome 20 years later and very active in this area, having worked at the port and the Collegiate Church of Nettuno. More reliable, instead, is the attribution to Alessandro Specchi (1668-1729), author of the Porto di Ripetta on the Tiber river, for his clear adhesion to the Borrominian modules and for his having been in the service of Cardinal Albani since 1719. He had already restructured the Cardinal’s Roman residence in Via delle Quattro Fontane. On the prospect over the sea, the building presents its front like an acropolis, set on a terrace with buttresses and barriers.

The axis of the edifice is evidenced by a salient that, with its ascensional and declining dynamics, reminds us of the scheme of volumes of the Egyptian pyramids: the statues of the two lionesses conformed to the style of that time. The only projecting element is the balcony of the “piano nobile” which ends, on the ground, the tripartite volume with Tuscan columns on high plinths.

The completion of the edifice, whose attic has three openings and linked volutes, is similar to the one of Villa Adele and it repeats here the motif of the ground floor. The prospect is framed by flat pilasters which square off border some single windows, in groups of two and three. Six false windows, of which five are drawn in masonry, complete the framework. On the “piano nobile” we meet once again the elements of the style already proposed; the bronze inscription “Villa Albani” replaced the one of the “Marine Hospice” which replaced in its turn the one of “Pontifical Palace”.

Of remarkable importance is the private chapel of Pious IX, where the votive picture, set in a very rich frame, reminds us of the visit of the Madonna to Saint Elisabeth, in the colours of Roman purism. In the higher prospect, the rigorous use of Renaissance elements taken from the Greek-Roman world, signaled the arrival of the Neo-classic period while come true a group of eclectic implications, product by the formalism of the cultural tradition.

It is an example of an official residence where the grave and solemn Baroque motifs, were interpreted in a classicist key through more sober architectural formula. Villa Albani enclosed a balanced prospect with its empty and full spaces, light and shadow, in the calculated relation between wings and centre, “piano nobile” and porch, as filter of the link to the ground to open itself to the country. Encumbering pillars of the period frame the front; Tuscan columns and paraste crowned by Ionic capitals scan the lower floor, flat pilasters the upper one. The towers guard-posts, at the corners of the edifice, had once included four guardrooms to watch over the immense patrimony that the Cardinal had brought at the light and here accumulated. The archivolt winglet windows and the loggia esedra-shaped were signs of its Borrominian origin, in the same way as the fastigium with the oval reinterpreted, was evidence of a moderate Rococo style on the Borrominian schemes that the Seventeenth century ignored, and later called Baroque. Since 1748 some important restoration work had already been done to the building that Cardinal Albani had begun to neglect over the years and a lot more was carried out after the succession of his nephew, Monsignor Giuseppe Albani, who had inherited the villa when the Cardinal died in 1779. Although, it was rented or sold during the years to other proprietors and in spite of important enlargements and restorations, the villa became first a granary and then an inn, after having been sacked of its treasures and disfigured.

Eventually in 1852 the Palace was purchased by the Papal States, precisely by Pope Pious IX Mastai-Ferretti, who at a cost of 53,000 scudi, brought his new summer residence back to its early magnificence. Afterwards the Italian State, thanks to the eminent Florentine physician Giuseppe Barellai, whose merit it was to have proposed the great humanitarian initiative in favour of poor, rachitic, scrofulous children, through the Institution of Marine Hospitals, took over the use of the villa which had became a public property , after the unity of Italy, and destined it to this purpose. The certificate of the sale was notified in June, 1881; Dr Camillo Morganti was the first resident physician in the new institute in 1879-1880. Guido Baccelli, Ercole Pasquali and Pietro Pericoli reinforced the plan with the support of the Prime Minister Agostino Depretis; Professors Contini, Ferraresi, Strazzeri, Campagna and Sabatucci, to whose names five pavillions inside the hospital have been dedicated, were prodigal of their best energies together with the Sisters of Charity of S. Giovanna Antida. Still today, the villa, has the same mandate of that period and it is even more at the service of the citizens, thanks to its vast modern Centre for medical analyses. During the summer time, in its gardens, performances of classical music and cultural events take place.

Ownership transfer:
1726 – Cardinale Alessandro Albani
1779 – Cardinale Giuseppe Albani
1834 – Contessa Antonietta Litta Albani e Marchese di Bagno
1852 – Camillo Borghese – Aldobrandini
1852 – Papa Pio IX Mastai – Ferretti
1870 – Stato Italiano


Yakima Canutt

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Re: Villa Albani

Post  Yakima Canutt on Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:22 pm


Yakima Canutt

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