See obscure Raphael frescoes in a luxurious riverside villa.
Tucked away in the corner of the bustling bohemian neighborhood that is Trastevere is an opulent Renaissance mansion built by a wealthy banker and decorated by a score of impressive artists, including Raphael. If you want to see beautiful art without the crowds, this is the place to go.
- Discover some of Raphael’s lesser-known frescoes in the Loggia of Cupid and Psyche.
- Fan of astrology? Gaze up at the ceiling of Loggia of Galatea, which depicts a 15th-century horoscope.
- Pay a visit to the ‘secret garden’, a green haven replica of a Renaissance viridarium.
Tickets & Prices
Tickets for Villa Farnesina are valid for one entrance to the villa and any temporary exhibition on display, which you can explore at your own leisure. They can be purchased online or at the door. If purchased online, you’ll need to register an account on the website beforehand.
Full Price Ticket
This ticket is for adults between the ages of 18 and 65.
Reduced Senior Ticket
This ticket is for:
- Adults over the age of 65.
- Teachers (with valid credentials).
- ICOM holders.
- FAI and Touring Club Italiano members.
Reduced Student Ticket
This ticket is for:
- Youths between the ages of 10 and 18.
- Students (with valid student ID).
This ticket is for:
- Children under the age of 10 (accompanied by an adult).
- Disabled visitors and one companion or assistant.
- Journalists (with credentials).
- Licensed tour guides (with valid ID).
Guided Tour of the Villa
Guided tours are available on Saturdays and Sundays for up to a maximum of 25 people. Reservations are required beforehand. Tours are scheduled in Italian (11 am and 4 pm), and English (12 pm).
Guided Tour of the Garden
A tour of the garden is available every day at 12:30 p.m. Tours are only in Italian and must be reserved beforehand.
What to See and Do
Here’s what you can see and do with your Villa Farnesina ticket:
The Loggia of Galatea
This vivid blue and gold room was worked on by various artists. The first was Baldassare Peruzzi, who frescoed the constellations and planets on the ceiling. It wasn’t until the 20th century that art historians realized that they were a replica of how the night sky would have appeared on the day of Agostino Chigi’s birth in 1466.
The room gets its name, however, from Raphael’s Triumph of Galatea, a fresco of the beautiful nymph Galatea as she escapes from her unrequited admirer on a shell pulled by dolphins.
Sebastiano del Piombo, an artist from Venice, painted the mythological scenes in the lunettes. He also painted the monochrome charcoal portrait of a young man’s head, previously attributed to Michelangelo. Legend has it that Michelangelo snuck in while Raphael was out and added it to the ceiling as a prank, but now we know that it’s not true.
The Loggia of Cupid and Psyche
This room, the most famous in the villa, was frescoed entirely by Raphael and his workshop in 1518. The frescoes depict the story of Cupid and Psyche from a story in the Metamorphoses. The themes are love, frivolity, and frolicking.
The room was intended to be a continuation of the garden, which is why the frescoes are outlined by painted garlands as if the greenery had extended inwards. Agostino Chigi would have used this room as a stage for theatrical performances and celebrations.
The Hall of the Frieze
This room, named for the frieze which circles the walls, was originally used as a waiting room for guests. The frieze portrays the twelve Labours of Hercules as frescoed by Baldassare Peruzzi.
The Hall of Perspectives
This is the hall where Chigi held banquets and entertained guests. The room takes its name from the perspectives of the views of the Roman landscapes glimpsed between painted columns. Peruzzi employed the trompe l’oeil technique, which tricks the eye into thinking that the views are real and the room extends far beyond what it actually does.
This room was originally Agostino Chigi‘s bed chamber. He had commissioned the artist Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, known as Il Sodoma (the sodomite), to depict the wedding of Alexander the Great to his bride Roxanne. Chigi is comparing himself to the mighty king and his wife Francesca to Roxanne (who is painted with Francesca’s face).
The Gallery of Grotesques
The passageway connecting the Hall of Perspectives to the domestic areas of the villa is known for its ‘grotesque’ (which comes from ‘grotto’) frescoes. Hybrid beasts and fantastical creatures are placed geometrically across the white background. This gallery is inspired by the ‘Domus Aurea’, a frescoed grotto in Nero’s Palace discovered by chance during the 15th century.
Only a portion remains of the viridarium (Roman pleasure garden), which surrounded the villa during Chigi’s time, but what is left is still beautiful. This ‘secret garden’, hidden from the street, has been restored to resemble its original layout, with laurel trees, ornamental flowers, and herbaceous plants. It also contains a small collection of archeological finds.
Villa Farnesina is located on the other side of the river Tiber from the city center in the neighborhood of Trastevere, Rome’s bohemian area, known for its hip bars and picturesque streets. Once crossed over the river, it’s easiest to get there on foot.
Address: Via della Lungara, 230
Bus: Lines 23 and 280 stop nearby.
Tram: Line 8 – Belli, then a 10 min. walk
Did You Know That: 4 Interesting Facts
- Agostino Chigi was one of the richest men in Europe. He was nicknamed ‘Il Magnifico’ because of his luxurious lifestyle and charming personality.
- Chigi used the villa to host flamboyant banquets and parties. The guest lists would feature prominent personalities of the age, such as princes, cardinals, poets, and sometimes even the pope.
- Chigi was also considered a bit of a romantic. After his wife died childless in 1508, he tried to court a marquis’ daughter but failed to procure a betrothal. He then fell madly in love with Francesca Ordeaschi, a poor and humble girl whom he eventually married.
- During the 16th century, Michelangelo, while working on the Palazzo Farnese, proposed building a bridge across the Tiber River to link the palazzo to Villa Farnesina on the other side. The project was initiated but never completed, though you can still see remnants of a few arches today.
- Villa Farnesina was built between 1506 and 1510 by architect Baldassare Peruzzi for Agostino Chigi, a rich Sienese banker and treasurer to Pope Julius II.
- Chigi also had the interior frescoes painted by Renaissance artists Raphael, Sebastiano del Piombo, Giulio Romano, and Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, known as Il Sodoma.
- In 1577, the villa was acquired by the Farnese family, who named it ‘Farnesina’ so as not to confuse it with their other property, the Palazzo Farnese, on the other side of the river Tiber.
- After the death of Odoardo Farnese, the villa was abandoned. It was occasionally used as accommodation for important visitors to Rome, such as Queen Christina of Sweden.
- In 1735, the villa was gifted by Elisabetta Farnese to Carlo IV, king of the Two Sicilies, and became the residence of various Neapolitan ambassadors.
- In 1861 the villa was again gifted away, this time to the Spanish Ambassador in Rome, Bermudez de Castro, Duke of Ripalta.
- In 1927, the villa was acquired by the Italian State, and since 1944 it has been used to accommodate the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, a renowned Roman academy of sciences.
- Today, Villa Farnesina is open for visitors to enjoy, though considered somewhat of a hidden gem. It’s the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon for art lovers and fans of Raphael.
Address: Villa Farnesina, Via della Lungara 230, 00165 Roma, Italy · view larger map