Viterbo. Doria Pamphili palace in San Martino al Cimino

The history of Doria Pamphili palace follows that of the famous Abbey of San Martino al Cimino in the municipality of Viterbo, in fact originally this was called the Abbot palace and in the fifteenth century the monks took refuge there in case of problems. On the ground floor was the ancient pilgrims' hospital connected to the abbey.

In 1564 the palace became the property of the princes of San Martino, the brother of Pope Innocenzo X Pamphili and his wife Donna Olimpia Maidalchini. Donna Olimpia's life is that of a very particular and in a certain sense modern woman. She was born in Acquapendente in 1591 and was destined for the convent but she claimed to have been bothered by the spiritual director and she managed to get married.

She became a widow after three years, she went to Rome and married Pamphilio Pamphilj, forming a strong bond with her brother Giovanni Battista. It is said that John became pope also thanks to the strong influence of Donna Olimpia in Roman life to the point that she was called 'Popess'. After being widowed for the second time, the pope gave her the closed abbey complex of San Martino al Cimino, a fiefdom of the surrounding area, and appointed her princess of San Martino.

Her son Camillo will later become General and Commander of the papal fleet and her life will be strongly influenced by her mother's lifestyle.

Arriving in San Martino al Cimino, Donna Olimpia transformed this palace into her residence and commissioned great architects to transform the village and modernize the medieval palace. Architects from the Borromini school worked on it and some materials from the Palazzo in Piazza Navona in Rome were also used in the renovation of this building.

The building has 5 levels with a partially underground first floor intended for the Cantinone and a mezzanine floor with the famous Aldobrandini Room.

But the real amazement is on the Noble Floor with a series of frescoed rooms such as the Donna Olimpia room which has a particular coffered ceiling that still works the system with which it was lowered to be fixed. Lowering the ceiling, then, was very useful in winter because it reduced the volume of the rooms and therefore of the air that had to be heated to achieve a certain well-being.

The rooms of the nearby former Cistercian monastery, such as the beautiful Sala Monaci, have been transformed and embellished with 15th and 16th century frescoes by famous Mannerist painters such as Zuccari, who had been a pupil of Raphael, Romano, Gherardi, Zaga and Tibaldi.

Written by:
Claudia Bettiol

Engineeer, futurist, joint founder of Energitismo and founder of Discoverplaces. Consultant for the development and promotion of the Touristic Development of Territories specialising in...

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