Villa Farnesina

A gorgeous Renaissance building, with some amazing artwork and lovely gardens.

TravelCurious Tip

Make sure to book in advance if you want a guided tour!

From Chigi to Farnese

Villa Farnesina is an extravagant building on the Via Lungotevere in Rome's Trastevere district. This extraordinary stately home is one of the noblest buildings in Rome and a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. It was built at the beginning of the sixteenth century for the wealthy banker Agostino Chigi by the architect Baldassarre Peruzzi, who also contributed some frescoes to the fabulous interior, including the mind-bending trompe-l'oeil 'Perspective Room.'

The villa was purchased by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (later Pope Paul III) in the 1579, and takes its name from that illustrious and stylish family. This association with the Farnese family would surely have annoyed Chigi no end, since he had intended it to be his own legacy. It is called 'Farnesina' and not Farnese so as to distinguish the Villa from Palazzo Farnese on the other side of the Tiber. Michelangelo proposed linking the two with a bridge across the Tiber, which was begun but never completed; some arches are visible in the river today.

Illustrious history

This airy summer house is surrounded by beautiful symmetrical gardens and contains magnificent frescoes of classical scenes, not only by Peruzzi but also by other Renaissance masters including Raphael. The richly adorned rooms were used for the most splendid parties and entertainment and have hosted lauded poets, musicians, princes, cardinals and popes.

After the death of Alessandro Farnese the Younger the building was abandoned, then was owned by the Bourbons of Naples, and was later lent out occasionally to visiting dignitaries such as Queen Christina of Sweden. It was acquired by the Italian State in 1927 and given in 1944 to the renowned national academy Accademia Nationale dei Lincei, which still owns it today.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Rome
Campo De' Fiori
Host to a daily fruit and vegetable market, this square is a great place to soak up the atmosphere of Rome.
Piazza and Palazzo Farnese
One of the most important palaces of the High Renaissance, once home to Pope Paul III and currently the French Embassy.
Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere
An ancient and colourful Christian church in one of the liveliest spots in town.
The banks of the Tiber, or the Lungotevere, offer impressive views of Rome and are lined with drooping trees.
Piazza Santa Maria
A happening square in the heart of Trastevere where you can relax, people watch and enjoy the festivities in the evenings.
Homemade Italian Cookies
A typical Italian sweet originally cooked by 'La Nonna' to share with the family that can be found in any Italian bakery. There are more than 10 varieties of cookies to taste.

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