Villa Torlonia was designed by the Roman architect Giuseppe Valadier (1762-1839) for the wealthy banker Prince Giovanni Torlonia (1756-1829). Construction began in 1806 and Valadier also laid out the surrounding gardens.
Following the death of Giovanni his son Alessandro (1800-80) commissioned Giovan Battisti Caretti to enhance and increase the size of the villa.
Prince Alessandro Torlonia also commissioned the creation of two pink granite obelisks, in commemoration of his parents. The two obelisks, which are both 10.2 m (33 feet) tall, were erected on June 4th and July 26th, 1842. Each bears a dedication in Egyptian hieroglyphs. Latin translations are supplied on the pedestals.
From 1929 to 1943 Villa Torlonia was the home of Italy's fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Since 1978 the gardens of Villa Torlonia have been a public park.
In the grounds of the villa sits the curious Casina delle Civette (Little House of the Owls).
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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