A Baroque Time Capsule: Palazzo Chigi

In the Stanza delle Belle,  a room found on the piano nobile of Palazzo Chigi, a series of portraits of women are on display.  I spend a great deal of time examining the fashions of the subjects, while imagining the history and personalities of these Roman beauties, memorized by their hairstyles, dresses, postures and stares.


Stanza delle Belle is representative of the magical effect of Palazzo Chigi; it takes you back into time and provides a glimpse into the splendor of 17 century European aristocracy. 


The Palazzo’s intact, preserved rooms, both in function and layout, coupled with the original frescoed walls, decorations and artwork are in essence a time capsule and provide a closer look into the lives of the illustrious Italian Chigi family.


Located in the heart of Ariccia, a town 30k south of Rome, Palazzo Chigi is situated in the main piazza,  Piazza di Corte, across from the Church of Santa Maria Assunta and next to Ariccia’s monumental bridge. 


Church of Santa Maria Assunta in Piazza di Corte. Bernini is responsible for the urban layout of the piazza, the construction of the Church, the two Casini (guest houses) on the sides of the church and the two fountains.  

Originally of the Savelli family in the 1500’s, the Chigi family bought the fief and transformed the castle into a splendid Baroque residence in the 17th century. Designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and renovations carried out by his pupil Carlo Fontana from 1664 to 1672, the building today is now a museum which showcases an important collection of the Chigi family's paintings, sculptures and furnishings, mostly from the 17th and 18th century. 

A blend of a castle, villa and a palace, Palazzo Chigi has a somber exterior in respect to the lavish Baroque interior. 


It's a wunderkramer, a museums of wonders, and one of the most magnificent aspects of the Palace are the extremely rare leather wall hangings of the XVII century, known as "of Cordova" that cover the walls of the many rooms, some of which designs are attributed to Bernini's workshop.

Leather wall hangings


Pharmacy. Pharmacy Cabinet designed by Carlo Fontana, made by Antonio Chicari.

 Portrait Gallery

La Stanza Rossa. Part of the Cardinale Rooms. 

Within the Ariosto Room, the frescos and wall decorations are considered the most significant of the palace, both for their  poetical strength and artistic quality. 

The Summer Dining Room 

The Red and Yellow Room

The Green Room

On the day of my visit, I was able to explore the dozen or so rooms found on Piano Nobile, along with the Le Stanze del Cardinale. The ticket price is so low compared to what the museum offers. There is also a 16th century park outside the Palace and a section housing the Roman Baroque Museum, both closed on the day of my visit.  Yet another reason to return!  

To check the latest opening times and hours visit: https://www.palazzochigiariccia.it/visita-palazzo/

First Published: March 26, 2020

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