After a ten-year restoration, the crystal garden of the Torlonia Princes opens to the public
When looking for a chance to immerse yourself in a fairytale atmosphere, a walk to Villa Torlonia is always a good idea. It may be because of the rich vegetation around, which here appears more “sylvan” than other green city spaces, or perhaps because stopping to admire the architecture of the Casina delle Civette transports us in a moment to a distant, almost fairy-like world. From December 8th 2021, it will be possible to add an extra stimulus to our imagination, thanks to the opening to the public of the Serra Moresca complex. The museums of Villa Torlonia are therefore enriched with new elements. The complex, in addition to the Serra, includes the artificial Grotto and the Moorish Tower.
The Serra Moresca Complex
In 1839, the Venetian architect Giuseppe Jappelli was called by Alessandro Torlonia to design a complex of buildings (the Grotto, the Serra and the Moorish Tower), closely connected to each other.
The fulcrum of the complex was the Serra, a glazed pavilion decorated in Arabian style, in homage to the Alhambra in Granada, intended to accommodate plants of exotic character such as palm trees, agaves, pineapples and aloes. An apparition from the East, a sip of warmth in the Roman greenery: events and parties were also organized in the Serra, as evidenced by the presence of a semi-hidden compartment for the orchestra.
The second element of the complex was the artificial Grotto, a place humid with mythological thoughts and memories, which had to capture the visitor’s attention thanks to the sound of the waterfalls and the placid lakes, which allowed them to imagine baths of nymphs and secret encounters.
And finally the Moorish Tower, a symbolic and imposing element, whose austerity was tempered by large windows with colored glass. Here the Prince invited a few lucky ones to participate in sumptuous lunches, which took place in the dining room on the top floor.
Gardens And Parks In Rome
The Restoration and the Museum Project
The restoration and recovery process of the Serra, which was in conditions of great decay, began in 2007 and was completed after six years, and was characterized by a faithful recovery of the original structure, both structurally and decorative. Subsequently, the museum discourse was addressed to open the renovated complex to the public.
Visitors are finally welcomed to make the visit, which is divided into three stages: starting from the Serra, then passing the Grotto and finally admiring the Tower from the outside, from a perspective below. If all the constituent elements of Jappelli’s project have their own charm, what is most striking is certainly the environment of the Serra. Entering you are struck by intense, prismatic, and iridescent light thanks to the polychrome windows. An oasis of well-being and silence, an iridescent kaleidoscope that if on the one hand refers to the world of a thousand and one nights, on the other it takes on practical and functional tones thanks to the materials chosen by the architect of cast iron and iron.
There is a bit of industrialism, to make the softened environment of the transparent garden a little more realistic. The roof structure, which resembles the skeleton of a bird and less prosaically the railway architecture, denotes an attention to everything that at the time of the Venetian architect spoke of modernity. But without ever forgetting the place where we are: just look at the architraves inside The Serra. Although solid and functional, they do not fail to wink at the Art Nouveau style of the famous Casina dei Torlonia, bending at the edges in a curved way as if they were the belly muscles of an oriental dancer.
The Serra Moresca Complex
Via di Villa Torlonia, 6
1st October – 31st March: Tue – Sun 10 am-4pm (last admission at 3.10 pm)
1st April – 30th September: Tue- Sun 10 am-7pm (last admission 6.20pm)
July and August: closed
Tickets: Full Price 4 € – Reduced 3 €