Villa Sciarra, one of Rome's smaller and less well-known parks, was once the property of Prince Maffeo Sciarra Colonna. In the 1880s the prince went bankrupt and the property was sold. In 1902 Villa Sciarra was acquired by the American diplomat George Washington Wurts and his wealthy wife Henrietta Wurts Tower.
The couple restored the house and laid out the gardens. George Washington Wurts died in 1928 and four years later his widow gave Villa Sciarra to Bentio Mussolini, on condition that the gardens became a public park. A plaque on the wall of the house records the donation; the Duce's name, however, has been erased.
Many of the fountains and statues come, via auction, from Palazzo Visconti in the northern town of Brignano Gera d'Adda (province of Bergamo), which explains the presence of the heraldic symbol of the Visconti family, a putto emerging from the mouth of a viper.
At the time of writing, Villa Sciarra is in a deplorable state with none of the fountains working!
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 and
small-group walking tours
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