5. Renaissance Rome

Pianta del Tempesta

By the end of the Middle Ages the monumental buildings of ancient Rome were in ruins. Southern part of the Quirinal hill as it appears in Antonio Tempesta's map (1593):

  1. Property of the Vitelli family (indicated as Balnea Paulli on Bufalini's map on the previous page), acquired by the Aldobrandini family at the end of the 16th Century. The small medieval agglomeration of buildings that were demolished at the beginning of the 17th Century to make way for the Villa Aldobrandini can be seen, as well as the pavillion-tower (lower right hand corner of the area occupied by the Villa in the engraving) which served as an entrance to the estate and is still standing today at the corner of Via Panisperna and Largo Magnanapoli.
  2. Church of SantíAgata dei Goti
  3. Church of Santi Domenico e Sisto
  4. Torre delle Milizie (the nearby Church of S. Caterina had not yet been built).
  5. Church of San Silvestro al Quirinale
  6. Ruins of the Baths of Constantine, which were completely demolished at the beginning of the 17th Century to make way for the Pallavicini-Rospigliosi Palace.
The recovery of the City at the end of the Middle Ages began in the 16th Century with the Renaissance, the artistic, cultural movement which originated in Florence in the mid-15th Century. The role played by the florentine patrons of the arts was taken over in Rome by the local ruling families which vied with one another also in building luxurious urban residences and suburban villas with important picture galleries and collections of antique sculptures excavated from the inexhaustible archeological sites or expressly commissioned. A brief but dramatic event was the sack of Rome by the lansquenets of Charles V in 1527. The temporal power of the papacy increased however as a result: Rome became the capital of the Papal State and of the entire Catholic world.

The area indicated as Balnea Paulli on Bufalini's map, site of the future Villa Aldobrandini, was at this time the property of the Vitelli family. The building was not a palace but rather an agglomeration of buildings in the Medieval style which housed the Vitelliís art collection, the family residing in a palace in the Campus Martius. The Vitelli estate on the Quirinal must have been quite a valuable and important one if they felt the need to provide the property with the pretentious entrance built by the architect Carlo Lambardi around 1580. Lambardiís pavillion-tower can still be seen today at the corner of Largo Magnanapoli and Via Panisperna.

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