Le Ville Tuscolane: Immerse Yourself in the Roman Aristocratic Lifestyle

Twelve magnificent Renaissance villas, located a short distance south of Rome within the 3 neighboring municipalities of Grottaferrata, Monte Porzio and Frascati, are a wonder of architecture, garden landscaping and art. My quest is to visit as many of the Ville Tuscolane as I possibly can, and  thanks to the latest initiatives of  I.R.Vi.T., reaching my goal has become easier.


Villa Aldobrandini 

What are the Ville Tuscolane?

Built between the  sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by papal nobility , these illustrious villas were symbols of prestige, and today they are exceedingly well preserved, despite heavy bombing of the area in WWII.


Villa Grazioli 

Aristocratic families and the papal court made the Castelli Romani their holiday destination due to its proximity to Rome,  ideal climate and rich soils.  It  became the “in” place to be and certainly a status symbol to have a summer residence.


 Villa Mondragone

Nobile families competed in building and updating these extravagant villas and their surrounding elegant gardens, and only the most esteemed artists and architects of the time were commissioned  for works.


Villa Grazioli

The Ville Tuscolane are located on the slopes of the Tusculum Hill, in the same area where the Roman villas of the imperial era were built, and in some cases, directly on top of ancient villas.  


In Villa Mondragone, remains of  a mosaic floor of an ancient Roman villa 

The Tuscolan Villas  became a “Grand Tour” destination  for scions of European aristocracy and noteworthy artists and writers between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


Fresco by and of artist Leone Ghezzi (1674-1755) in the Winter Hall, Villa Falconieri.

Today,  most are stil very well preserved. Their architecture is perfectly integrated within the surrounding landscape. Most were built with their facade facing Rome, and  they  offer vast panoramic views overlooking the countryside and Rome.


 Gardens of Villa Falconieri 

Inside many villas the walls are covered with sumptuous  frescos.  


Pannini Gallery, Villa Grazioli

Not only are the villas a feast for the eyes, but also captivating:  Tales of family gossip, feuds, bankruptcy and Nazi occupations are part of their engaging history. Each villa has its own story to tell.  It is possible to visit a majority of the villas today, along with their gorgeous gardens through tours, events and exhibitions. 


Members of the Falconieri Family, Villa Falconieri 

How to Visit The Villas:

Some villas have remained property of noble families, while others have been transformed into academic facilities, hotels, event locations and public spaces.  Depending on the Villa’s function and ownership, each have different visiting options and a few are closed to the public.

Thanks to the initaitive “Di Villa in Villa” run by  I.R.Vi.T. (Regional Insitute for the Villa Tuscolana) in  collaboration with local associations,  you can immerse yourself in these historical villas and visit a few places normally closed  with specialized guides and a dedicated ecological tour bus.

On the day I participated in “Di Villa in Villa” we visited both Villa Grazioli and Villa Mondragone, spending a little over an hour at each location. 


 I.R.Vi.T. has planned a  series of  guided itineraries, not only to these illustrious villas, but to elegant gardens, religious buildings, archeological sites and estates.  The tour, in Italian language, starts at 9:30 am from  Frascati's train station. Anti-Covid measures are followed: At the time of writing you need a Green Pass to participate and seating is spaced on the bus.

The Villas often host cultural events, exhibitions and concerts, which are other unique ways to visit these presitigious residences.  

 Visit  I.R.Vi.T. 's site https://www.irvit.it/  for programs, itineraries and events.  

Tours in English are available for groups and according to the availability of the individual villas. To book a tour in English, email prenotazioni@irvit.it or by phone +39  375/7026213

For any information relating to the villas outside the "Di Villa in Villa" events or programming, it is requested to contact directly the structure. 

Le Ville Tuscolane

In Frascati:

Villa Aldobrandini
The Villa still belongs to the Aldobrandini family  who continue to reside here, therefore the inside is generally closed to the public.  However,  you cannot miss its dominating presence over Frascati town.  The  Villa also hosts concerts and events; this past summer we attended a  concert of the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in the garden. 


Villa Aldobrandini's  stunning garden location "Teatro delle Acque"  is host to a series of concerts. 

Villa Falconieri
One of my favorites. The Villa is currently home to the Academy Vivarium Novum, an academy of Latin and Ancient Greek studies.  Check out my post on this Villa


The Spring Room in Villa Falconieri 


Villa Lancellotti
The family still resides in the villa and it is closed to the public.

 Villa Sora
 The villa is now a middle and high school.

Villa Torlonia
Villa Torlonia sustained majored damage in WWII, was demolished and later replaced by a residential building. The gardens, however, are a public park and contain monumental staircases, fountains and a nymphaeum.


Villa Torlonia

VILLA VECCHIA has been converted to a hotel.

Villa Sciarra was destroyed in the WWII, was reconstructed and now houses a public school.

Villa Tuscolana  has been converted to hotel Villa Tuscolana Park Hotel.

In Grottaferrata: 

Villa Grazioli
This Villa has been converted to “Grand Hotel Villa Grazioli”. Highly recommended to visit, the Pannini Gallery and frescos are superb. 


Villa Muti is closed to the public

In Monte Porzio Catone

Villa Mondragone
The villa is now property of Tor Vergata University of Rome  and used for conferences and  events.  A gorgeous one to visit and their gardens are just dreamy.


Villa Parisi is generally closed to the public, but IRVIT organizes occational visits through “Di Villa in Villa”

First published: September 26,2021
Latest update: October 20, 2021