The Farnese Palace is one of the greatest masterpieces of Renaissance architecture and was created by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, later to become Pope Paul III, to celebrate the glories of the family.
In those years, the family wanted to gather his possessions into a Duchy and Caprarola was in a strategic position to be the capital.
The first project was entrusted in 1520 to Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, architect of confidence of the expert military architecture family. This project was more similar to a fortress than a palace and had a pentagonal plan, with five corner bastions and a defensive perimeter ditch.
The work was suspended when he was elected Pope Paul III and moved to Rome. Ten years after his death, in 1559 another Alessandro Farnese, nephew of the pope, gave a new project to Jacopo Barozzi called ‘il Vignola’. The new design was far from that of a military fortress and the new building was a wonderful pentagonal villa.
To emphasize the building the urban layout of the village was changed with the construction of the so-called Straight Road that was to bring the traveller to a crescendo of emotions and increase the grandeur of the palace. To make way for the road part of the existing village was demolished.
The construction of the building ended in 1575 but the work continued for the town planning and the completion of the gardens.
The distribution of rooms in the palace is surprising and, in addition to a logical division between summer and a winter area, according to the orientation of the building, some choices are very interesting. For example the servants’ stairsare obtained in the thickness of the walls and do not communicate with those in the palace. The carriages had access to the basement where there were other service areas such as kitchens and warehouses.
An internal staircase leads to the first floor via from an outside and many areas on this floor are painted by Taddeo Zuccari, as the rooms of the Seasons in which the perspectives designed by Vignola dilate the spaces in an unreal perspective.
The Room of the Guards was frescoed by Federico Zuccari after the death of his brother.
One of the most spectacular architecture of the building is the extraordinary ‘Scala Regia’ that leads to the main floor. A completely painted spiral staircase by Antonio Tempesta that could be traveled by Cardinal also on horseback.
The magnificent circular courtyard of Vignola consists of two superimposed arcades has frescoed ceilings by Antonio Tempesta.
The main floor is divided into two apartments completely frescoed: the summer and winter. Among the other rooms on this floor are the bedroom of Cardinal, also known as the House of Dawn, and the Fasti Farnese Room, which illustrates the history of the family.
The garden is called “Farnese Gardens” and is a splendid example of late Renaissance and is made with terraces connected to the residence by means of bridges.
A real curiosity is a spiral staircase of servitude called ‘Scale Husk’ as its carved handrails allowed to bring down from the upper floors a bag filled with sand which contained messages.