Caetani Lovatelli Palace at the Jewish Ghetto

Palazzo Caetani Lovatelli, home of Giuseppe Bertolami's ACR Auctions auction house, is one of the most famous and interesting late 16th century Roman buildings. Located in the centre of the Campitelli district, between the square of the same name and the smaller Piazza Lovatelli, it is characterized by a very sober style, typically late Mannerist, when the most marked flair in the field of painting and art is often contrasted in civil architecture with a simple and severe language. he building site of the palace began in the 1880s on commission by Giacomo Serlupi and was completed around 1620 by Monsignor Girolamo Serlupi, Giacomo's brother.
The building sites of sixteenth-century Roman palaces could normally go on for decades; the space to build entire buildings in the centre of the city was often not enough and it was necessary, even for the most important princely families, to buy lots of private houses at a high price in order to complete a prospectus or a cantonal one on a public street.
The palace remained the property of the Serlupi family until the middle of the eighteenth century, then passed to the Ruspoli and later to the Lovatelli, a family originally from Ravenna and related to the Caetani family.
From a stylistic point of view, the exterior of the building is almost military: three rows of windows, kneeling on the ground floor, architraved on the main floor, halfway up on the mezzanine floor; a corbelled cornice on the eaves; two beautiful architraved portals on Piazza Campitelli and Piazza Lovatelli, connected by lotus en en enfilade.
The inner courtyard also maintains a severe style: articulated on three sides with two orders of superimposed arches, partly covered in the nineteenth century, it is unfinished on the fourth side. From the courtyard, a very elegant and wide cordonade leads to the main floor, where ACR Auctions is located.

From the transfer of ownership to the Lovatelli family the palace, and in particular the main floor, became a cultural salon of great level, thanks to the figure of Countess Ersilia Caetani Lovatelli (Rome, 1840-1925), archaeologist and first woman to be appointed Academic of the Lincei. The countess, between the end of the nineteenth century and the first twenty years of the twentieth century, gathered illustrious figures from the world of archaeology and not only, such as Theodor Mommsen or Rodolfo Lanciani, but also Gabriele D'Annunzio, Giosuè Carducci and Franz Liszt, who played several times for guests in the Lovatelli house.

Very evident and interesting traces of the 17th and 18th century splendour of the main floor remain; starting from the entrance, which preserves a grotesque decoration of the end of the 18th century and an access portal probably part of the original Serlupi layout, the space is divided into the classic layout with enfilade halls, following the parimeter of the elevations on Piazza Lovatelli, Via dei Funari and Piazza Campitelli. In the second hall, under the decorated coffers, there is a frescoed frieze from the end of the sixteenth century with scenes of Roman history divided by grotesque backgrounds, much repainted but certainly original; in the fourth salon the lowered vault is decorated in the central panel by a fresco with two large allegorical female figures of the Bolognese school of the second half of the seventeenth century; the fifth salon preserves instead the very elegant architectural decoration with Corinthian pilasters and floral frames, enriched by a beautiful lowered vault decorated with female figures dancing in tempera. The main floor of Palazzo Lovatelli can be considered one of the best preserved of the princely manors of medium importance in the Capitoline Hill area, strategically marking the boundary with the most popular area of the Jewish Ghetto characterized, towards the Portico di Ottavia, by 17th century terraced houses of lesser value.

(Tommaso Strinati)

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