On the first day of every month (apart from January 1st), the Palazzo Pallavicini-Rospigliosi throws open its doors to the general public. Or, to be more accurate, it throws open the doors of its garden, the location of the Casino dell' Aurora with its celebrated ceiling fresco, the work of Guido Reni (1575-1642).
The Casino (1611-12) was built by Giovanni Vasanzio for Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1577-1633), famed art collector and nephew of Pope Paul V (r. 1605-21). In 1613 the cardinal commissioned Guido Reni to decorate the ceiling of the central room with a fresco of L' Aurora (The Dawn).
For more than two centuries, Reni's fresco would be one of the paintings every visitor to Rome wanted to see. It depicts Apollo-Helios in his chariot of the sun, led by Aurora, goddess of the dawn. Apollo is accompanied by the Horae, goddesses of the Seasons.
The grand Palazzo Pallavicini-Rospigliosi, which was built (1611-16) above the ruins of ancient Baths of Constantine, originally belonged to Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The architects were Giovanni Vasanzio and Carlo Maderno.
The Casino dell' Aurora is only open for two hours in the morning (10.00-12.00) and two hours in the afternoon (15.00-17.00). Admission is free.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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