Villa Rospigliosi - The history
The Villa was commissioned by Pope Clemente IX (1667-1669), who gifted his native Tuscan land of a masterpiece. The project of the Villa belongs to Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the most important architect of the Italian baroque, author of the colonnade of Saint Peter’s square and the Four Rivers fountain in Navona Square in Rome. The assignment of the construction was collected by his faithful pupil Mattia de' Rossi, also Roman. Pope Clement never made time to inhabit the villa because he died the same year in which the work was begun. The project was still completed and the villa was used by the family Rospigliosi as a summer residence until the early years of the twentieth century.
The Zodiac Hall
The vaulted central salon, in the heart of the villa, is enchanted by the frescoed decorations carried out in 1530’s and attributed to Ludovico Giminiani (1643-1697), son of Giacinto, the well-known painter from Pistoia. Apollo on the Sun Cart, drawn by four horses, Aurora dissolving the shadows with her hands full of flowers and various putti, one of them bearing the symbolic torch of the morning star, are shown inside an oval in the center and framed by a garland motif in gilded stuccowork. The ceiling decoration is symbolically linked to the changes of the seasons. This motif makes a perfect match with the winged female figures, painted below, representing the allegories of the Sign of the Zodiac that divide up the twelve months of the year. The figures are placed inside spandrels, further emphasized by jutting architectural surround alternating with deep windows splays that give onto suggestive views. The illusionist-scenic architecture is enriched by groups of columns, supporting elements that hide snippets of landscape and thus create an even stronger feeling of an ideal continuation between the space of the garden and the villa. There are several other rooms, also decorated with frescos, on the ground floor, a chapel, and a spiral staircase that leads up to the second floor.
The Royal Hall
At the first floor another vaulted central salon, characterized by a panelled ceiling, links the sides’ rooms, decorated with frescos, through wide doors with Pietra Serena stone frame. The large windows open-up over the villa's park and the Tuscan’s hills.
The Rospigliosi Family
Probably to get away from political persecution, the Rospigliosi family purchased some country property near Lamporecchio and began their political and social climb in Pistoia from early 14th century. This eventually led Antonio di Ser Jacopo being elected to the Council of Elders in 1388 and his son Taddeo becoming gonfalonier in 1449. The growing power of the Rospigliosi family was ensures by mutual understanding with the powerful Florentine family of the Medici, then reigning over Pistoia, and, in the 17th century, by the career of Giulio (Pistoia 1600-Rome 1669), Cardinal in 1657 and Pope in 1667, under the name of Pope Clement IX. Giulio’s pontificate only lasted for two years but, with his charismatic personality, he managed to leave tangible signs of his reign, partly thanks to his activity as a composer of melodramas on sacred and profane themes and partly to the profitable artistic commission he set under way in Rome and in his home town, which were aimed to further re-enforce his family’s cultural prestige.