Rome to restore forgotten palace near the Colosseum

Italy's culture ministry to restore Palazzo Silvestri-Rivaldi in Rome.

An abandoned Renaissance palace in the shadow of the Colosseum is to be restored by the Italian culture ministry under its €103 million Grandi Progetti scheme, announced culture minister Dario Franceschini.

Palazzo Silvestri-Rivaldi, which has been in a state of neglect for 40 years, will now be restored thanks to €35 million of ministry funds, together with additional funding from the Lazio Region, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

The 7,000-sqm site, including buildings and gardens, contains faded mythological frescoes, precious floors and coffered ceilings, hidden by scaffolding, mould and weeds.

Palazzo Silvestri-Rivaldi. Photo Angelo Franceschi F3/Press.

The 16th-century palazzo was designed by Sangallo the Younger and was constructed between 1534 and 1547 for Eurialo Silvestri, the "secret waiter" or papal chamberlain of Pope Paolo III.

Weakened in standing after the death of the Farnese pope, in 1577 the Silvestri family offered the palazzo "for life" to Cardinal Alessandro de' Medici, future Pope Leo XI, who in turn leased it to a member of the Colonna family.

On the death of Leo XI in 1605, the complex passed through the hands of two other cardinals before coming into the ownership, four decades later, of the Conservatorio delle Zitelle Mendicanti, a home for poor single women.

The institute, run by a monsignor Ascanio Rivaldi, offered women education, lodging and employment, converting the building into a boarding school and textile factory.

Palazzo Silvestri-Rivaldi. Photo Angelo Franceschi F3/Press.

The palace site was decimated by the construction in 1932 of Via dell'Impero (today Via dei Fori Imperiali), which involved the excavation of the Velia, or Velian hill, a spur stretching between the north side of the Palatine Hill and the Oppian Hill.

The Velia was home to the palace's garden, which originally reached the apse of the Basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forum, and which was almost entirely destroyed together with its Renaissance and Baroque furnishings, during the construction of the new road.

In 1975 the villa passed to the S. Maria in Aquiro Institute (ISMA) but remained unused, being occupied by various movements in the 1970s, and becoming known informally as the "Convento Occupato."

Palazzo Silvestri-Rivaldi. Photo Angelo Franceschi F3/Press.

Since the 1980s the complex has been in a state of complete abandonment, threatened by structural difficulties, and surrounded in recent years by Metro C works.

Talks are currently underway to fine-tune a project to transform Palazzo Silvestri Rivaldi into a "higher education school" for Italy's culture ministry, as well as making the building available to Rome as an exhibition venue, according to La Repubblica, in what will hopefully be a brighter chapter in the history of this forgotten gem.

Photos by Angelo Franceschi F3/Press.

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Address Monti, 00184 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy

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Rome to restore forgotten palace near the Colosseum

Monti, 00184 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy