The Renaissance Art Of The Villa Farnesina, Rome

Villa Farnesina Rome

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Rome is full of art treasures. Grand buildings from every stage of history, churches full of statues and other artworks, and much, much more. So it would be easy to miss the Villa Farnesina. I discovered it by chance, passing it on an early morning walk through the Trastevere area of the city. It was a lucky find, a small but perfect villa jam-packed with frescoes by Raphael and other Renaissance masters.

Ornate interior with frescoes on the walls
The richly decorated interior of the Villa Farnesina

A Grand Renaissance Villa

The Villa Farnesina was built as a summer house for Agostino Chigi, a wealthy banker and treasurer to Pope Julius II. He chose a location away from the city, on the opposite side of the River Tiber: in the 16th century this would have been a relatively open suburban area. The architect was Baldazarre Peruzzi, who filled the house with his own work and that of other contemporary artists, most notably Raphael.

Ornate interior of the Villa Farnesina
Pinnable image of the Villa Farnesina

The paintings are part of the fabric of the villa. Every square inch seems to be covered with artwork, from the frescoes on the walls, to the ornate friezes, to the richly decorated ceilings. No wall is left blank; the spaces between pictures are filled with painted drapery. And, if you look carefully at the stairway, you will see that it is a construction of many different types of marble.

Ceiling fresco with mythological figures
Raphael’s fresco on the ceiling of the loggia

Frescoes Of The Villa Farnesina

The main downstairs room is the loggia, originally an open space and the main entrance to the house. The paintings in this room have mythological themes. The fresco on the ceiling was designed by Raphael, although mostly painted by his students. It represents the marriage of Cupid and Psyche, and is surrounded by opulent images of flowers and fruits.

Landscape and pillars painted onto a wall
The trompe-l’oeil pillars and landscape of the Perspective Room

Upstairs is the remarkable Perspective Room. The architect Peruzzi designed this himself, with trompe-l’oeil frescoes of pillars and Roman countryside. At first glance you could imagine that you were standing in an open courtyard looking out to a 16th century landscape.

If you want to learn more about the house and its frescoes it is worth taking a private tour with a local guide.

Looking from the inside of the villa into the garden
Looking out to the gardens

As you walk round the house you get glimpses of the gardens. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to explore the grounds (they can only be seen on a guided tour). However, I was able to walk around the small patch beside the entrance. It was laid out in the classical style, with low geometric hedges and different types of citrus trees. It is only to be expected that the gardens of the Villa Farnesina would be a work of art in themselves.

About Bewitched by italy

Bewitched By Italy is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), but Italy remains one of my favourite destinations. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…


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