The embassy of Ireland to the Holy See is holding an open morning on 14 May in light of increased interest in the Villa Spada on the Janiculum hill and the role the building played as the last headquarters of Garibaldi and the republican forces in 1849.

The embassy will be open from 10.00-13.00 to a limited number of visitors who have registered in advance. There will be free guided tours in Italian by author and expert Carla Benocci at 10.30 and 12.00. If there is sufficient interest from English speakers, the second tour at 12.00 will have a simultaneous translation.

Constructed in the 1630s as a summer home for the Nobili family, today Villa Spada houses the embassy as well as being the official residence of the ambassador of Ireland to the Holy See. The building suffered significant damage in the fighting between the French and Italian republicans in 1849, although the main structure remained intact.

It was sold several times over the subsequent years and in 1938-39 then owner Giorgio Uzelli extended and landscaped the villa and its gardens.

Purchased by the Irish state in 1946, Villa Spada underwent an extensive restoration and refurbishment programme between 2004-2006 during which time the embassy was based in Palazzo Orsini on Via di Monte Savello, between Teatro Marcello and the Lungotevere.

Those interested in the open day should email their names to holyseeembassy@dfa.ie, indicating which tour they prefer or whether they wish to visit without joining a tour. Places are limited and identification will be required at the entrance. 10.00-13.00, Via Giacomo Medici 1.

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