Originally designed in the early 19th century by Giuseppe Valadier and Giuseppe Jappelli for the Roman banker Giovanni Torlonia and his family, Villa Torlonia later became home to Mussolini; “the Leader” lived here from 1920 until the end of World War II. The three buildings are surrounded by lush gardens with a number of decorative pavilions and obelisks; underground are Jewish catacombs dating from the third century and an air-raid shelter later converted to a bunker during the World War II (not currently open to the public). The Torlonia family, and in particular Giovanni and his son Alessandro, were avid art collectors, and the villa is home to a small portion of their original collection.
If you’re already acquainted with Rome’s main attractions and would like to discover some of the city’s lesser-known sites, consider taking a guided tour of Villa Torlonia and the nearby Quartiere Coppedè neighborhood.
Things to Know Before You Go
Large bags, backpacks, and umbrellas must be left in the cloakroom.
Touring the buildings and gardens requires a bit of walking, so wear comfortable shoes, a hat, and sunscreen.
The buildings are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers via ramps and elevators.
Photography without flash is permitted inside the villas, but not during special exhibitions.
How to Get There
Villa Torlonia is located along Via Nomentana; a number of buses run from Rome’s main Termini train station to the Trieste/Nomentana stop near the villa.
When to Get There
One of the main draws of Villa Torlonia are the lovely grounds, which are in full bloom in spring and fall. The museum is closed on Mondays.
The Owl House
Although Casino Nobile is the main building, the most charming is the House of the Little Owls (Casina delle Civette), a whimsical cottage with loggias, porticos, turrets, and stained-glass windows.
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