Origins of the Liberty style Cottages of Cave, an Italian peculiarity


Each town has its own architectural peculiarities, but those of Cave, near Rome, are truly unique: a series of Liberty style cottages that have created an area of ​​particular interest and architectural value. But how did they arise? Why in Cave?

The territory of Cave is characterized by a particular climatic condition: lying at the foot of the Prenestini Mountains and surrounded by a deep valley of intense greenery with oak, holm and chestnut forests. The presence of a source of light and healthy water, the Spring of St. Stephen, has contributed to making this territory a destination for summer vacations and communities since the early 1900s.

In the early years of the century, a series of infrastructure interventions provided a period for important development for the town. Two of the most important were the construction of a new road and railway line for a better connection with the city of Rome.

The railway connected Rome and Fiuggi crossing a flat countrside, between the hills and the valley. It is just along this route, around the station, that the new expansion of the town occurred.

This appealing connection with the city of Rome by the “trenino” (called “narrow gauge”, reduced distance between the rails) was specifically designed for these areas by the engineer of Cave, Antonino Clementi. Thanks to the station many people came to know the pleasures of Cave and more and more people decided to enjoy and stay in the area.

Cave is shown in prints and postcards of the time as a “hydroclimatic station” and many of the Roman middle class chose to spend their holidays and sojourns here. Along the railway and all around there are a series of refined residences built according to the spirit and sensitivity of the time.

These refined buildings were designed according to the style of the era. In nearby Rome, as in the rest of Italy, the Liberty or Floreal style was in favour, dictated by the desire to look at nature as a source of inspiration for the arts and architecture.

The proximity to the Capital and the particular sensitivity of local artists, craftsmen and artisans, determined the birthplace of a large number of Liberty-style villas was in the town, resulting in a new image of the town unique throughout the country.

They are of elegant and proportioned architecture, characterized by original but never excessive decorations, always measured and in balance with the surrounding environment.

They were built in masonry, with a regular, rectangular or square plan layout. The façade is generally two-level, while there are not many three-level designs.

Almost all the villas are characterized by the presence of towers, which resemble a type of castelletto, which contains the staircase. The small tower is also the element that brings light inside the house, through the wide windows, and is adorned with bossage and decorations that highlight it and make it a strong and autonomous element from the rest of the building.

These residences are in close relationship with the surrounding nature. Indeed, nature and vegetation surrounding them are an integral part of the architecture itself. In this “different” spirit, the gardens are enriched by palm trees, still present today, beautiful and having been imported in the early 1900s.

Although of a similar type, each cottage is characterized by different decorations and original details that make them different from each other.

Stuccoes and railings have been bent into floral motifs with great craftsmanship by Cave artisans to create designs that still thrill the visitor today.