12. Villa Aldobrandini in the early 20th Century


Present day view of the new wing of the Villa Aldobrandini built in 1920 to replace the one that had been built in the mid 19th Century. This wing houses the Library of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT).

At the end of the 19th Century the trend to renovate the old villas within the city walls and to subdivide the open spaces in the historical centre led the owner, Giuseppe Aldobrandini, to commission a series of plans from several famous architects: F. Strocchi, M. Piacentini and C. Busiri Vici. However the numerous plans encountered difficulties with respect to approval by the public administration. Development was limited to the demolition in 1920 of the old wing which had been built in the 19th Century along Via Panisperna to the plans of architect Benedetti and the construction of the new wing. The plans for this new wing were unsigned and all that may be said is that the style chosen for this new wing was the rather massive neo-renaissance style typical of all the plans that had been commissioned but never executed.

Road signs and parked cars have changed the urban environment which has lost that air of 19th Century tranquil provincialism by now relegated to romantic memories (compare this image with that on the previous page).

Facciata dal giardino

Main facade of the Villa Aldobrandini facing the garden which today is a public park.

The Villa, which was put up for sale by Giuseppe Aldobrandini, changed hands several times. The garden even risked being used for housing development and the villa being turned into a hotel. However, by a Royal Decree Law of 1926 the Italian Government finally purchased the Villa in the public interest. In 1927, a large part of the garden was assigned to the city to be used as a public park while the villa itself became part of the Demanio Statale (State property) "... at the disposal of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to be used by the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law as its headquarters".

In order to adapt the entire complex to its new public functions the Genio Civile and the Comune di Roma (Muncipality of Rome) carried out numerous restorations of the buildings and garden in the years immediately following its acquuisition by the Italian State and, more recently, since the mid 1980s.
Notwithstanding the dispersion of the art collections and original furnishings, Villa Aldobrandini is still today an architectural complex of considerable historical and cultural significance on account of its place, over the centuries, at the centre of events in the life of Rome.

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