Tuesday, 1 December 2015

A visit to the Palazzo della Rovere in Piazza Santi Apostoli

The Roman Reinassance sure was lively on every aspect, even if it's mostly famed for its corruption and fishy business (go figure!)-- One of the figures of the period that intrigues me the most os the good ol' Pope Julius II della Rovere, the "Warrior Pope" that at the time of this story was still a Cardinal and went by his given name, Giuliano.

November is over, but even this year I managed to take part to this year's edition of Palazzi di Roma a Porte Aperte, where people are granted the visit of places usually closed to the public.
My pick was the Palazzo della Rovere located in Piazza Santi Apostoli, by the minor basilica that gives the name to the square. Right know this clean, simple building is known also as Palazzo Colonna from the family that inherited it, but originally it was built by Giuliano on a project of his cousin Cardinal Pietro Riario.

The most peculiar parts of the building are the tower, exquisitely Reinassant, attributed to Giuliano da Sangallo, and the entrance in marble, hovered by an interesting terrace, dated 1589, probably a work of Domenico Fontana:
Once we entered the portal, we accessed the courtyards; unfortunately the place was under restoration, so I can offer only these pictures, where you can guess pretty much nothing of the clean, delicate lines of the arcs--


In the last picture you can see a specimen of the keystone, which was quite huge, on which is impressed the heraldry of the Della Rovere family.

The guide presented us an interesting tour of the cenotaphs that could be spotted on the wall adjoining the basilica.
We started with the one dedicated to the glorious Michelangelo, originally resting here and then "stolen" by the Medici's ruffians to bring the corpse of the artist to Florence:
A curiousity: the face of the artist was re-sculpted in modern times, as to make it more resembling to the artist.

Another interesting cenotaph concerns Cardinal Bessarion, the famous Greek scholar and humanist:
Me and other people were then looking at this monument... The guide told us that he was a condottiero, and this was enough to put us in awe and making us take pictures, ahah!
But it must be said that it's quite scenographic!

So, as we said, Giuliano lived here from the death of Pietro, on 1474, to his election as Pope, on 1503.
After that, he presented the building to his niece, Lucrezia Gara, as a present for her marriage to Marcantonio I Colonna. His daughter, Felice della Rovere, married Gian Giordano Orsini instead. This way Julius II wanted to make peace between the two most important noble families of Rome, whose rivalry affected the whole city and its safety since centuries.
After a long pause we managed to access the rooms on the first floor of the building, where the family led its everyday life.
On 1589 the building was bought by Pope Sixtus V Peretti for 15000 scudi, who presented it to the Minorites-- This explains why now the walls are covered with the portraits of the "Generals" of the order: starting from Saint Francis of Assisi to the most modern heads, it's really interesting to look at the different styles of the portraits, suggesting the passing of time!
Once inside the first room, we're invited to look at the original floor, a magnificent example of marble floor inspired to Cosmatesque style--
This is quite rare, as during the Reinassance the forms of Medieval art were pretty much ignored or considered rough and vulgar.

We were then guided around the rooms, where we could enjoy the beautiful frescoes and the lovely ceilings, with their typical coffering:


As you can spot on the rich decorations, many little columns, heraldic symbol of the Colonna family, are the protagonists of the artworks, enriched by lovely and vivacious grotesques, following the spirit of the time.

All in all, an interesting visit, following the steps of some of the most intriguing personalities of the Roman Reinassance!

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