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  • Writer's pictureRoma Experience

Noble Families in Tuscia & Latial Coast “Princely Itineraries”

Noble estates are everywhere in Italy, but near Rome, there are so many still occupied by the same noble family who built or acquired them, and that’s why visiting these Villas, Castles or Palaces you could be greeted by the Prince, Count or Duke themselves, perfect hosts, proud to show you the beauty of their properties.

Let’s take a look at the most famous ones:

When you say Tuscia the first family that people think about is the Farnese. Alessandro Farnese, future Pope Paul III was born in Canino and his family had several properties in the area of Bolsena lake and its surroundings. But their name is tightly bonded to an architectural jewel, Palazzo Farnese of Caprarola originally thought of as a fortress by Antonio da Sangallo, the first architect entrusted by the future Pope, then transformed by Vignola, architect of his nephew cardinal Alessandro, into a spectacular palace.

Its beautifully painted rooms, decorated, among the others, by the Zuccari brothers, pairing the magnificence of the gardens. The spiral stairway alone, set of many movies, is worth a visit to the Farnese Palace.

The name of Pope Paul III Farnese is tightly connected to another noble family of this area, the Del Drago, whose properties have to be found in Bolsena and on the Bisentina island. Ancient family, originally from Viterbo, the Del Drago settled down in Rome in the 15th century and started having possessions in the Latial area from 1519. The main branch of the Del Drago, which in the 20th century bought the former Cozza Spada palace in Bolsena and the Bisentina island in the nearby lake, has kept its name and weapons and is still flourishing.

The palace of Bolsena was built for Cardinal Tiberio Crispo (1498-1566), son of Giovanni Battista Crispo and Silvia Ruffini, then mother of Costanza, Pier Luigi, Paolo and Ranuccio Farnese, from Alessandro Farnese then Pope Paul III.

Palazzo Del Drago was built between 1533 and 1561 on a project by the architects Simone Mosca and Raffaello da Montelupo and decorated by mannerist painters of the Roman school, whose monochrome frescoes in the beautiful Sala dei Giudici are inspired by Pellegrino Tibaldi and Perin del Vaga. In the years following Crispo's death, the Palazzo became the property of various families, and, most recently, of the Del Drago.

And if about noble families, it’s a castle that you are looking for, you will be challenged between the one of Bomarzo wanted by the Orsini family, where lived Giulia Farnese, sister of Pope Paul III and her descendants, or the Trevinano Castle, property of the Boncompagni Ludovisi family, and the Odescalchi one.

The Orsini are among the oldest noble families of Rome, Italy and Europe. Endowed with numerous branches, it has had an illustrious past for power and wealth, for ties of kinship with various royal families of Europe and for having given the Church popes and cardinals, as well as senators, gonfaloniers and men of arms and states to the city of Rome, the Papal State and the Kingdom of Naples.

Three Popes come from it: Celestino III, Niccolò III and Benedict XIII. Authentic architects of papal politics, during the Avignon captivity they clashed with the interests of the Colonna family, giving rise to a famous rivalry that ended only in 1511 through Pope Julius II thanks to a marriage between the two families.

The Boncompagni is another noble Italian family, originally from Umbria: they settled down in the 15th century in Bologna, and then they arrived in Rome in 1572, thanks to the election of Ugo Boncompagni as Pope Gregory XIII. They merged with the Ludovisi family and obtained the Principality of Piombino.

In the Tuscia area, they own the beautiful Trevinano Castle. The scant information about their castle dates back to the mid-twelfth century, a period tormented by frequent clashes between the Aquesians and the Orvietans. A fundamental date is certainly 1187, the year in which with a peace treaty, stipulated between the cities of Acquapendente and Orvieto, the village of Trevinano is granted to the sons of Sinibaldo Visconti di Cambiglia. The Castle has some magnificently frescoed rooms and rich furniture, that creates a cosy, yet luxurious atmosphere.

Today, used privately by the family of Prince Alessandrojacopo, the Castle hosts events, concerts and various types of events, as well as keeping in its secret, as they say, an important archive of the historical vintages of the wines of the Tenuta di Fiorano, in Rome.

Our journey among castles ends on the seacoast, at Palo, near Ladispoli, where the Odescalchi family has a splendid manor. The Castle of Palo passed from hand to hand for centuries, finally entering the possession of the Odescalchi, and thanks to Ladislao, a famous collector of ancient weapons, who restored it in the last decades of the 19th century, it acquired its current look.

The Odescalchi are the lucky owners of this splendid fortress on the sea and of the famous Castle of Bracciano, on the lake, and both venues are used for events and weddings.

And then something peculiar, if you wish to see a noble palace frozen in time, then the one of the Altieri family in Canale Monterano is what suits you, abandoned centuries ago and surrounded by lush vegetation. The origins of Monterano are lost in the Etruscan age, but the current ruins date back to the second half of the 17th century. At the time, the Altieri family bought the fiefdom from the Orsini family, giving new lustre to the buildings and embellishing it with buildings designed by the great Gian Lorenzo Bernini. When Pope Clement X, exponent of the Altieri, died, an economic crisis began which gradually led to the irreversible abandonment of the town. The malaria of 1770 and the arrival of the French army which set it on fire when the locals refused to grind their own grain for their "cousins" from across the Alps contributed to transforming Monterano into a ghost town even faster. The final destruction occurred in 1799

With Roma Experience you will have the chance to retrace the steps of some of these noble families, entering, when possible, their estates, feeling for a day how it is being surrounded by beauty and art.


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