Did you know that in Italy you only have to look at an old building’s windows to know when it was built? Medieval façades have small, irregular windows; 15th century ones are simple, with no curved lines; copious decorations prevail from the 17h century onwards... And did you know that certain frescoed ceilings allow you to trace the entire history of Italian art, for instance at Palazzo Farnese in Rome, Palazzo Mancini in Bologna, Palazzo Gangi in Palermo... and that the most beautiful garden maze in Italy is to be found at Villa Pisani in Stra? And that no one has ever actually lived in many Italian Renaissance villas, such as Villa Farnesina in Roma and Villa Malcontenta in Mira (near Venice)? This book describes the historical evolution of the aristocratic residence model through an exploration of the most significant extant dwellings in Italy. The author’s itinerary has both a chronological and thematic structure, leads the reader on an unusual journey through Italy, and delves into buildings that are often closed to the public: Palazzo Labia in Venice, Villa Albani and Domus Aurea in Rome, Palazzo Corsini in Florence, Palazzo Beneventano in Syracuse, several royal palaces, Papal palazzi, and aristocratic abodes still owned by descendants of the families that built them.
This book is part of a new series hosting distinguished authors who transform Italian travel itineraries into passageways full of meaning. A visit to a museum, a historic city, or a natural park should not be a mere review of masterpieces or monuments, but rather a historically and culturally harmonious journey, or better yet a set of potentially parallel voyages, giving substance to stones, meaning to maps, colour to the past. Readers will feel like main characters participating in Italy’s long history.
Costantino D'Orazio is a writer and an art historian.