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The History of Hotel Antico Palazzo Rospigliosi in Rome
It is said that Italy is a country of saints, sinners and scholars and the phrase was never more appropriate than when used to describe the 400 year history of this government listed protected building.
Constructed in the late 1500's the Antico Palazzo Rospigliosi was commissioned by the rich aristocratic Roman family the Rospigliosi who lived here for more than 150 years. In that time many prominent Roman and Religious persons were guests within the 12 foot thick walls. A centre of learning where poetry and art were frequently discussed in the hotel's 2 reading //rooms. A symbol of Roman High-Society the Rospigliosi was the birthplace of many famous Paintings, Music and Novels all composed by prominent Roman literary figures of the period... To this day every corner of the building perpetuates an atmosphere of knowledge and learning something which sadly many of today's buildings do not....
The Antico Palazzo Rospilgiosi was destined to remain at the pinnacle of Roman high-society for over 400 years and intrinsic to its entire history is the presence of rich, famous and prominent religious figures who have contributed much to the Hotel's vast and cultured collection of antiques. Busts, statues, books about art, paintings, chandeliers and antique furniture are all evident in every corner of the hotel, one can only imagine what it must have been like to live in this former nobleman's palace which has remained completely intact from it's initial construction. The Antico Palazzo Rospigliosi still contains the original staircase on the first floor which allowed horses to enter (the stables were located at the top of the hotel). The Antico Palazzo Rospigliosi was constructed during the pontification of Pope Sisto V (1585-90) who was also responsible for the creation of the Church Santa Maria Maggiore the construction of which was hailed as a milestone in transforming Renaissance architecture into a more urban style adapt for the 17th century. The wide roads that surround the church, the star shape of the square and the large abundance of space are testament to this style of architecture (other examples in Rome include the Piazza del Popolo before the intervention of Valadier). NB the Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore has recently been renamed Piazza Esquilino.
The Hotel Antico Palazzo Rospigliosi is both a Roman and National art treasure and consequently is protected by both world heritage and the local ministry for the arts. A precious national heirloom the Hotel must never again be allowed to fall into a state of disrepair from which it was rescued in the Spring of May 2001. By studying its long and illustrious history it is hoped that one can perhaps understand what happened in all those centuries, in some way reliving the experiences shared by its residents which include the Roman families of Rospigliosi, Ciampini, Lercaro and Borromeo. These are just a few names of families that lived in this building, names that the passage of time have never forgotten, names which for good or bad live on in eternity. Let us now ponder for a moment and ask ourselves who were these people that once lived here, in the very building which we hope will become your choice venue of luxury accommodation in Rome? Ciampini? The Rospigliosi? We hope that you will be our guest and thus ensure that you too become, in a little way, part of its history!
The Ciampini - one of the first owners of the building was Monsignor Giovanni Giustino Ciampini who bought it for 6000 scudi from the Vaini family. A notable Roman erudite from the late 16th century Ciampini was a pioneer of science and christian architecture and a few of his scientific instruments are still housed here (most have been transferred to the national museum for safe keeping). Among Ciampini's most famous accomplishments was his creation and publication in 1668 of the first ever "Newspaper for Letterists" or Giornale de' Letterati which was the first of its kind in Italy and the third in the world (after the Journal des Scavants Paris and The Philosophical Transactions London.)
After Ciampini's death in 1695 the ownership was transferred back to the Rospigigliosi a noble family the head of whom's household was also the Prince of Castiglione. The Rospgigliosi lived here until the middle of the 18th century.
The Antico Palazzo Rospigigliosi embraces the spirit of Rome and especially of Christmas when Santa Maria Maggiore is used for the official Italian celebration of Xmas. Camillio (1646-1722.) son of figlio di Giovan Battista Rospigliosi and Camilla Pallavicini loved the palace. Giovan Battista was the son of another Camillo Rospigliosi (the Pope's brother) and of Lucrezia Cellesi, therefore Camillio junior was the nephew of Pope Clemence the ninth and of the first Camillo Rospigliosi. and Towards the end of the 17th century the Rospigliosi passed the ownership deeds of their ancestoral home to the Marchese Francesco Maria Imperiali Lercaro, who let the home to the Apostle Missionaries.
Prince of the sacred Roman Emperor Camillo Junior, on the death of his father, became the Duke of Zagarolo and lived in the Antico Palazzo Rospigliosi. The prince was surrounded by artists and painters including Reder, Masucci, Giovanni Bottani, Paolo Monaldi, the latter of which was commissioned to paint some episodes of his life (sometimes he would go to the races). These paintings may still be seen dotted about the Antico Palazzo Rospigliosi. Two of the best paintings can be viewed at the Museo di Roma, the first by Giovanni Reder depicts the Exterior of the Palazzo Rospigliosi and Santa Maria Maggiore and shows the celebration of Prince Camillo's victory over the barbarian Folletto 1748. The second painting by Agostino Masucci shows the Prince Camillo Rospigliosi on horseback.
Another painting again by Giovanni Reder housed in the Museo di Roma) shows the internal garden of the Hotel Rospigliosi in occasion of the "festa delle mozzatore", a party to celebrate the end of the grape harvest and the return from the fields of the grape pickers. More than once the Prince is painted on a white horse in a rural setting perhaps in Magliana his second residence in Rome.
The Rospigliosi originally came from Milan,and in the 12th century they fled to Tuscany to escape persecution by Federico Barbarossa. In the first quarter of the 14th century they commenced agricultural, commercial and industrial activities which saw them amass a small fortune. On account of their riches the Rospigliosi were awarded titles and political power in Pistoia and later made the armed pontifice for Pope Martin the 5th and then Paolo the 3rd. They were given the fine distinction of being indoctrined into the Knights of the Order of Malta. Despite all of this the family continued with its commercial activities which involved wool and farming thus ensuring a sustained period or posterity which continued for over 3 centuries.
In 1667, Giulio Rospigliosi – cultured and refined personality, son of Girolamo and Maria Caterina Rospigliosi Became Pope Clemence the 9th. His pontefice didn't last long, only 2 year s(1667-1669), his time in office was riddled with poor health although he did prove an extremely popular Pope with the Romans due to his genorisity and tireless work for the poor. Nevertheless, the international fame Giulio Rospigliosi acquired is more down to what he did before he became Pope as he was among other things a brilliant writer. A master of melodrama and oratory skills Giulio appeared often in theatres in Rome and especially at the Palazzo Barberini. He was often painted performing and one painting by Pietro da Cortona shows him in full flow (this is now housed in a private collection in the UK.) Nevertheless, you can view a couple of his portraits, one by Maratti, at the Pinacoteca Vaticana; and another by Gaulli inside the Gallery of Ancient Art in via delle quattro fontane.
Among Giulio Rospigliosi's most notable works was his Opera Sant'Alessio which was first performed at the Palazzo Barberini on via Quattro Fontane on the 8th of March 1631. The music for the opera was composed by Stefano Landi. The opera was much loved by the Roman people and received several encores, it was performed again at the Palazzo Esquillino and repeat performances were held for years to come. The opera was about a young Roman nobleman who after his return from a pilgrimage to the holy land decided to renounce his riches and titles preferring instead to live his life in a cupboard under the stairs. The opera recounts how how others in the same social circle found his behaviour derisory whilst the people loved him.
During this speriod (the mid 1630's) the Palazzo Rospigliosi was considered one of the most important cultural attractions, memorable for the melodramas and a series of productions including the "La Replica dell'Egisto" 1637 which was perfected by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and stunned contemporary composers and writers. The work is still considered the first Italian Musical Comedy and one of the best examples of 17th century poetry. The most innovative novelty was the use of stage props such as masks (by Zanni and Coviello), the tasty dialect and the "Burattinesche" movements, which was very unusual and "alien" to many aristocratic ears.
In 1643 The Saint Eustachio was performed and in 1654 "From Bad comes Good" which saw the start of the Rospiglione Spanish Theatrical season. In 1656 Rospigliosi was responsible for the "Queen's Carnival" Carnevale della Regina, so called in honour of Queen Cristina of Sweden. The play's themes included Human life, Arms, Loves and again from the Bad comes Good.
The Rospigliosi family benefitted enormously from Giulio's play writing career and consequently, his brother Camillo and his nephews moved to Rome in the Summer of 1667 all of whom were giving important roles in local government. Another great achievement of Giulio Rospigliosi was to have contributed enormously to the creation in Italy of The Great Spanish Theatre "Grande Teatro Spagnolo del Siglo de Oro". Giulio's love of Spanish Theatre was born as a result of his time spent there earlier in his life. In 1669, on the night between 25 and 26 October The Pope suffered an apoletic fit, he recovered briefly only to suffer another attack on the 28 of November. The Pope died on the 9th of December and upon his own behest and in keeping with his modest and humile personality the Pope's body was buried underneath the pavement directly in front of the Hotel, in 1671 his body was exhumed and placed in the Tomb of Santa Maria Maggiore, the tomb was honoured and a monument by Rainaldi commemorates the spot.
In 1769 the Rospigliosi Palace was bought for 4000 scudi by the Marchese Francesco Maria Imperiali Lercaro. It was quickly converted into a missionary for apostles and underwent extensive modifications throughout the remainder of the 18th century. Most of the modifications were carried out by the architect Francesco Azzurri. In present day hotel you can see one of his contributions directly above the reception - an eagle symbol of the then dominant Hapsburg Empire which was commissioned by the Marchese Lercaro.
From 1769 onwards for almost 2 centuries The Religious Institute (Il Collegio dei Sacerdoti Missionari del titolo di Maria Santissima delle Grazie) conducted, uninterrupted, their activities as a mission serving both adults and children alike (many of the local children were prepared for their first communion. In 1770 the mission became the head office for the Institute of Spiritual Exercises (Istituto degli Esercizi Spirituali), founded by the Cardinal Vitaliano Borromeo. In the same year the mission was officially rendered economically safe thanks to the cardinal Vitaliano Borromeo and donations from the Cardinal Leonardo Antonelli in 1774. Henceforth the mission was to conduct apostolic activities such as first communion ceremonies and other religious events and was referred to as the Institute of Imperiali Borromeo Antonelli or the Cappellette di San Luigi as the people of Rome preferred to call it (the hotel was called the Hotel Cappellette di San Luigi from May 2001 to December 2005). A quarter of a century passed until the Antonelli connection was severed and the name reverted to simply “Imperiali Borromeo”.
For a further century the missionaries of the Imperiali Borromeo conducted first communion ceremonies and for Rome's most aristocratic families to go to the “hotel rospigliosi” for the first communion was a prestigious major event, gaining them major bragging rights over rival families. For the children the ceremony was quite an ordeal and represented for many the first time that they had been away from home. Lasting for 8 days (later reduced to 4) many children became homesick. Among the many children who were communed here was a certain Eugenio Pacelli who became Pope Pius IXX who was Pope during the second world war.
Other famous religious figures to emerge from the teachings within the walls of the Antico Palazzo Rospigliosi were the Gaetano Giannini, Giovanni Battista Fioravanti, San Giovanni, Battista De Rossi and more recently Giuseppe Mori, Salvatore Langeli, Giuseppe Rinaldi and finally Pirro Savizzi.
After 1870 the building underwent a radical change in it's external appearance due in main to the changes around the square of Santa Maria Maggiore. The Roman town council approved a plan to lower the road via Liberiana by 4 metres (architect Azzurri (1831 to 1901). Consequently, the entrance was lowered and a stone staircase installed The balcony and windows on the first floor are where the old entrance used to be!
The first floor of the Antico Palazzo Rospigliosi i.e. the old entrance and living room is now a reading room and contains some interesting architectural features including Italian Stucco from the period, marble floor with the insignia of a star surrounded by “fascia di bigio”. Some original books and other period antiques are also present.
Even the head of the institute conserves the late neo-classical decoration from the period of Leone XII, designed by Leonori and perfectly preserved.
The hotel's internal courtyard, has remained almost intact since its creation 420 years ago. Although a small fountain with goldfish was added in 1934. The courtyard divides the main hotel from the restaurant and may be used for relaxation purposes. The Sunday Times described the Antico Palazzo Rospigliosi as surprisingly austere in a city famous for ancient decorations and spectacular staircases, the high ceilings and decorations combine to create and atmosphere of charm and relaxation. Traditional and tasty Roman fayre is served in the ground floor restaurant or underneath the parasols in the characteristic internal courtyard. The bells from the nearby Santa Maria Maggiore provide the backdrop for an unforgettable stay in a charming and cultured hotel in Rome. ”
Therefore in summary we can assure you that the Antico Palazzo Rospigliosi is an aristocratic residence of the late Renaissance situated in Rome’s town centre, opposite the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore very close to Roma’s Termini Train Station and the airport terminals. As you have no doubt read the Palace has great architectural interest and also has a historical and cultural value which can be experienced first hand by coming to visit us! In the hotel we try our best to pay attention to every detail and every guest room has its own charm. There are 39 rooms all of the them recently renovated with air conditioning, mini bar, private safety deposit box. The reception is now on the ground floor with our garden and cloister located on the first floor… to the rear of the Hotel Rospigliosi you will find an ample car park for exclusive use of hotel residents (a supplement applies for this service). Finally for our guests there is an internal cinema screening lounge fitted with the latest audio-visual equipment. Relais Antico Palazzo Rospigliosi, a truly original and unique historical experience in Rome’s thriving city centre. should you have any queries or comments please do not hesitate to contact us at the email address listed here firstname.lastname@example.org