Amongst the ruins of the Palatine, of the Claudian and Nero aqueducts and the Baths of Caracalla, set on the Celio hill, in a park of centuries old holm-oaks and pine trees, we find Villa Celimontana.

In 1553 Giacomo Mattei acquired the “wine yard” amongst the Vicus Scauro and Santa Maria in Domenica at the Navicella; at the end of the century, Ciriaco, descendant of Giacomo, transformed the wine yard in a typical Italian garden, surrounded by beautiful plants and decorated by statues and classical art works. From the end of the century, thanks to these transformations, the Villa became a cultural destination where nobles and foreigners could admire the collections of bronzes and sculptures: Ciriaco was a real patron in Rome, in the Villa he assembled many artists, poets and musicians.

To create a perfect union in between nature and art, Ciriaco elected the architect Giacomo Del Duca, an apprentice of Michelangelo, that built the “casino” (the small house), where the collections of ancient bronzes and statues where put. Today we can still admire the great Egyptian obelisk donated to Ciriaco for his cultural support to the city of Rome.

The Villa was included in the “Pilgrimage of the Seven Churches”: according to the tradition, on Thursday Gras the Romans believers had to renounce to their profane leisure and do penance, going to the procession along the itinerary that united the seven most important Roman basilicas. The believers stopped at Villa Mattei and here found a welcome centre: the same Goethe remembers the menu of these banquets ad the extraordinary concerts held in the gardens during the Pilgrimage.

After the Mattei family, other owners followed: Clemente XIII, the Archduchess Marianna of Austria and the Godoi Prince, minister of Charles IV of Spain, that gave new life to the Villa, altering the gardens and ordered excavations done that brought to life marmoreal works of the Caracalla period.

After the First World War the Villa became an Italian State property and in 1926 was given to the Municipality of Rome that transformed it in a public park and set there the Italian Geographical Society, that is still present in the Villa.

Today the gardens of Villa Celimontana can be visited every day from dawn to sunset, the seat of the Society is instead reserved to the members and to students with a presentation letter. For the last twelve years, the night of Villa Celimontana has come to life during the Roman Summer, thanks to our Festival that continues to propose the magic, the concerts, the art and the menus that once involved and enchanted also Goethe.

The villa - Daytime

The villa - Nighttime