The site, an important strategic place until Throughout the Middle Ages sull'emporio place overlooking the Tiber and a view of the Tiber island, already in the tenth century it was occupied by a Benedictine monastery fortified. He then passed to the Templars and, after their removal, the Knights Hospitaller who established their priory. Restorations were operated by radical advance from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century.
In 1765 the nephew of Pope Clement XIII, Cardinal Carlo Rezzonico, entrusted to Giovanni Battista Piranesi to the renovation of the priory. The result, unique architectural work of the author, was the extraordinary eighteenth-century square, original example in Rome of urban rococo setting, decorated with trophies of war that allude to companies of the Knights of Malta and with the coats of arms of Rezzonico, on which you open the main entrance to the villa. The square is also known as the keyhole of the front door is framed exactly, down to the garden, the dome of St. Peter. Its dimensions and the setting allude all'armilustrium, the party that was held in honor of Mars in October, to purify the Roman army before acquartierarlo for the winter, when the soldiers after the parade at the Circus Maximus, rose in procession on the Aventine to sacrifice to the god.
The villa has its ideal center in the church of Santa Maria del Priorato, inside the garden, also restored by Piranesi, who decorated with elegant stucco. The iconographic design, made with great care and refinement, repeated everywhere - from the square outside the church to the furnishings of the garden - symbolic elements such as the snake, the ship, the cross, and then weapons and military emblems that evoke the military history of the Order . The small temple outside recalls the architectural model of a Roman temple, while the interior decoration integrates the baroque fantasy and Counter with memories classic spread everywhere, starting from the tomb of Piranesi, in the second chapel on the right, depicted full length , toga, holding sheets of drawings, leaning on a herm is engraved with the tools of the engraver and vaguely resembling, in the face, in Cicero.
Observing from the latch of the main entrance you can see in perfect perspective two states: the Aventine, where the Villa in Rome, in the Italian State, then the State of Vatican City with St. Peter's Dome.
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