Renaissance rationality and equilibrium gave way in the 17th Century to the ornate dramatic style typical of the Baroque period which sought to make a strong visual impression by a display of grandeur and extravagance according to a programme for the glorification of the Church. Not only the many architects, painters and sculptors, but also a host of talented artisans, further embellished the city, creating that unique cityscape dominated by the contrast between its dark colour of its buildings and the blond travertine of the church facades, the imposing grandeur of the ancient classical ruins against the background of a luminous sky in a unique image that was to fascinate artists and educated travellers from all over the world over the centuries.
Villa Aldobrandini at the beginning of the 17th Century. Detail of the map of Rome by Goffredo Van Schayck (1630) in which the Villa Aldobrandini is still indicated as "Orti Vitelli" (Gardens of the Vitelli Family).
Each Pope sought to outdo his predecessor in the building and lavishly embellishment of churches and palaces which served as a splendid reflection of his religious and temporal powers. The Aldobrandini family, having reached the height of its powers when Ippolito Aldobrandini became Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605). In 1600 Clement VIII acquired the Orti Vitelli on the Quirinal hill and in 1601 donated the property to his nephew Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini. The old buildings of the Vitelli Family were demolished and construction began on the new villa and adjacent garden.
The new building indicated on the map of Rome (1630) by the engraver G. van Schayck consists of two main parts - one facing the garden, the other flanking Via Panisperna - and two smaller parts enclosing a courtyard. Also visible is a tower which had existed since the Vitelli's time. The two storey villa (a third story was added subsequently) is crowned by a cornice decorated with statues on the sides facing the garden and Via Panisperna. The villa was never the family seat as the Aldobrandini family owned even more splendid residences elsewhere in Rome. The villa on the Quirinal hill served basically for ceremonial functions.