Standing in the shadow of the Aurelian Walls, a stone's throw from Porta Pinciana, the huge bust of Belisarius* once graced the extensive gardens of Villa Boncampagni Ludovisi, which occupied much of the area between Porta Pinciana and Porta Salaria.
Most of the villa was destroyed in the 1880s to make way for housing; all that remains is the Casino dell' Aurora. Its destruction led the American novelist Henry James (1843-1916) to comment in a letter to a friend: 'one’s stomach is really turned ... by the accounts of the hideous things that are being wrought upon the helpless seven hills. Destruction and vulgarization everywhere—and the Villa Ludovisi cut up into building lots. The Villa Ludovisi--je ne vous dis que cela!'
*Flavius Belisarius (c. 500 – 565) was a military commander of the Byzantine Empire.
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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