Villa Torlonia, a lavish 19th-century villa in Rome that was the residence of former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini from 1925 through 1943, is open to the public as are the ground surrounding the villa and some of the other buildings. The park originally belonged to the Pamphilj family and was part of their farm in the 17th and early 18th centuries.
What You'll Find at Villa Torlonia
Villa Torlonia was originally designed by Valadier in the early 19th century for Alessandro Torlonia who bought the property and wanted to turn the house, Casino Nobile, into a larger, grand villa.
The interior of the villa is decorated with beautiful frescoes, stuccoes, chandeliers, and marbles. The Torlonia family was one of the major collectors of art during the 19th century and the museum inside the villa includes some of the artworks bought by the family. Also inside is some furniture used by Mussolini.
Underneath the villa, Mussolini had two underground structures built to protect himself and his family during air raids and gas attacks. They can be visited by reservation only and are not included with the ticket to the villa.
Villa Torlonia is part of a large complex that includes a reproduction of a frescoed Etruscan tomb, a theater, extensive gardens notable for the English style garden, and the whimsical Casina delle Civette, the owls' bungalow that was the residence of Prince Giovanni Torlania the younger, that resembles a Swiss chalet. The Casina delle Civette is also a museum with 20 rooms open to the public.
Inside it is mosaics, marble sculptures, and other decorations but its most notable feature is its stained glass windows from the early 20th century. A large collection of stained glass is exhibited in the museum as well as preparatory sketches for the stained glass windows.
Visiting the Villa Torlonia Museums and Gardens
Villa Torlonia park and gardens are free to the public and concerts are often held there during summer.
Ancient Jewish catacombs have been found underneath part of the park, too.
Villa Torlonia can be reached by bus 90 from Rome's main train station, Termini Station.
The 2 museums of Villa Torlonia (Casino Nobile and Casina delle Civette) and exhibits open at 9:00 Tuesdays through Sundays and usually close at 19:00 but closing hours may vary depending on the season or date. Museums are closed on Mondays, January 1, May 1, and December 25.
Museum tickets can be bought at the entrance, via Nomentana, 70. A cumulative ticket for both museums plus the exhibitions is available or you can buy a separate ticket for either museum and audio guides in English, Italian, or French can be rented at the ticket office. Admission to the museums is included with the Roma Pass.
See the Villa Torlonia website for exact hours and more visitor information.
For more about the architect, visit Casina Valadier in the Borghese Gardens, now a restaurant with fantastic views of Rome.