The fortune of the Borghese family began in 1605 after Cardinal Camillo Borghese, of Sienese origin but born in Rome, was elected Pope in 1552 with the name of Paul V.
Paolo V Borghese led the state until 1621 and was a dynamic and quite positive character, although he helped many grandchildren and relatives.
The family coat of arms includes the eagle and the dragon, a coat of arms that we find repeated hundreds of times in the palaces and villas they acquired in Rome and Lazio.
Paul V had the Acqua Paola aqueduct built, reactivating the Roman aqueduct from Bracciano to Rome which ends with the famous Fountain on the Janiculum.
He had Maderno complete the facade with his signature in great evidence, and the Borghese Chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore, which would become the family tomb.
One of the most famous personages was his nephew Scipione Borghese (1577-1633), who was appointed Cardinal in 1605, purchased the Palazzo Borghese that had been started by Vignola in 1560, and began the construction of the large Villa Borghese.
He was protector of the arts, in particular he commissioned various works from Bernini and created that wonderful collection of art kept in the Borghese Gallery.
Another nephew married Camilla Orsini and from 1640 the Borghese took over fiefdoms from Savelli, Colonna and Orsini, expanding to the Castelli Romani, in Palombara, Artena, Bomarzo, up to Sulmona.
In 1803 a descendant of the family, Prince Camillo Borghese married Napoleon’s sister Paolina Bonaparte.
She was 23 when she married the prince and went to live in Villa Borghese. It was a marriage of interest only, and in fact Pauline continued to have a fee life with a large number of lovers.
In 1805 Canova made her famous with a naked statue, and in 1825 she died at 45 from a tropical disease.
Unfortunately, following her wedding, many works of art from the Borghese collection ended up in the Louvre.
On September 20, 1870, when the Bersaglieri entered through the breach of Porta Pia, they found themselves inside Villa Paolina, the villa she had purchased after separating from her husband.
In 1885 a financial crisis forced the family to sell many land and buildings and in 1901 the Italian state took over Villa Borghese, with 80 hectares of parkland, plus the whole gallery and the works contained therein.
In 1907 another prince Scipione Borghese carried out the incredible feat of the Beijing-Paris Rally. Together with him as the mechanic and driver the journalist Barzini covered 16,000 km in two months with an Italian car.
In the Palazzo Borghese there is now the Spanish Embassy.