Palazzo Chigi-Albani, an architectural jewel of extraordinary beauty, is the main attraction of Soriano nel Cimino. The building of the vast historical-artistic complex, of which Fonte Papacqua should be mentioned, was commissioned by Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo, bishop of Trento and Bressanone, who had acquired from the Carafa the fiefdom with the castles of Soriano and Gallese.
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CHIGI - ALBANI PALACE
HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION
Palazzo Chigi-Albani, an architectural jewel of extraordinary beauty, is the main attraction of Soriano nel Cimino. The building of the vast historical-artistic complex, of which Fonte Papacqua should be mentioned, was commissioned by Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo, bishop of Trento and Bressanone, who had acquired from the Carafa the fiefdom with the castles of Soriano and Gallese. The design and direction of the works, carried out between 1564 and 1571, was entrusted to the Perugian architect Ottavio Schiratti, who died precisely at that time, although it does not seem that this could have involved substantial changes to the original Papacqua project.
The Madruzzo building was to perform the function of “maisonnette”, a country casino; it is not possible to establish whether there was a previous building or garden arrangements, it is only known that, in Roman times, the Papacqua district was crossed by a road, which started from the Cimina, ran through the Ferentana and joined with the Amerina near by Orte. Probably in the mid-sixteenth century the district stood in the open countryside, a secluded and solitary place, where an impetuous source of water gushed out.
The palace was used by Madruzzo as a holiday resort from 1572, but death struck the cardinal in 1578, who could not see the projects completed. A massive construction in peperino stone, worked with ashlar and surmounted by an arch, adorns the gate that leads to the noble architectural complex. Beyond the entrance, you reach an “L” -shaped courtyard, from which a large terrace develops, in front of which, between the two buildings that make up the building, the various elements that make up the the elegant Fonte Papacqua, surmounted in the background by a loggia closed by an architectural elevation, in turn subjected to a cylindrical turret. The Source is made up of two sculptural groups obtained directly on the existing rock. The central group presents a figure of a woman with goat’s feet (symbolizing the “Queen of the waters” or “Papacqua”), with three children leaning against her, two satyrs, a god Pan playing the bagpipe and various other animal figures . The sculptures in the group on the left represent Moses, who makes water gush from a cliff, surrounded by thirsty Jews. Pagan tradition and Christian tradition meet in a single work of rare beauty. Also interesting are the allegorical figures of the four seasons, placed two on each side, masks, waterfalls and jets, which follow one another on the left side, framing the main sculptures.
Water, the main element in Papacqua, is celebrated in sixteenth-century culture as a changing, bursting and symbolic subject, as a manifestation of the mysterious forces of nature; here it emerges from the compositions carved into the rock walls, is conveyed in a series of jets, and then flows under the terrace and falls in a cascade; collected in the basin in the rocky bottom of the valley, it forms a recently restored lake, which in the period in which the source was built, was used for shows and naumachia, according to the custom of the lords of the time. The building between the entrance and the source housed the servants’ homes and was commissioned by Madruzzo, as the ground floor of the front building, which was completed in the eighteenth century by the Albani, with the addition of the upper floor. The building consists of a main body with a rectangular plan, crossed externally by pilaster strips, niches, large windows and mirrors that give the building a chiaroscuro effect. The niches on the sides of the portal on the facade house two Renaissance-style statues. The entrance leads into a large atrium, where a precious stone portal rises, with an architrave roof surmounted by the Chigi family coat of arms. Unfortunately, the building is in a state of decay.
Vast halls open concentric in front of the visitor’s eyes. A disengagement space has a domed roof, connected to small rooms that mirror each other, covered in barrel. The numerous service areas below, partially buried, had to contain pantries and deposits, especially for game caught in the hunt and stocked with hazelnuts. A spiral staircase connects the floors to each other. The second floor of the building is of particular interest, where different colors identify specific halls. Here finely worked doors unite the different rooms, decorated with coats of arms and paintings that recur on the walls and elegant ceilings. The rooms are illuminated by large windows. The Red Room, which takes its name from the bright red with which the walls were covered, is one of the finest in the building. Three windows open on the left wall of the living room; on the front a large peperino fireplace, surmounted by a noble coat of arms, further embellishes the environment. From this room you enter a chapel of the Bernini school full of paintings.
The architectural complex is also known for the park, embellished and arranged under the dominion of the Albani family. One side of the building directly overlooks the garden. This park was originally intended to have a greater extension than the present one, so much so as to incorporate the area crossed by the street called “del giardino”, with the adjacent “mirror house”. A monumental gate called the “iron gate” gives access to the wooded area.
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Biblioteca d Soriano nel Cimino – biblioteca digitale – sezione locale – documenti digitalizzati