In addition to the Caetani and the Colonna, the third ancient family that has greatly influenced the history of Rome is the Orsini family.
As for the other two families, the great territorial and economic expansion took place with the election as pope of one of the family, in this case it was Pope Nicholas III in 1287. Although there had already been Pope Celestine III Orsini in 1191.
Dozens of fiefs passed to the Orsini, in northern Lazio but also in Abruzzo and later in Campania and Puglia.
In Rome there were three Orsini headquarters: there were the Orsini “de Monte”, residing in Monte Giordano (now Palazzo Taverna), the Orsini “de Campo”, with the palace in Campo de Fiori on the Teatro di Pompeo, and the Orsini “de Ponte” located in Castel Sant’Angelo.
While the Colonnas often sided with the Empire (or the French) against the popes, the Orsini were almost always on the side of the popes.
In 1365 the Orsinis ceded Castel Sant’Angelo to the Papal State and then in the seventeenth century there was a reduction in their properties: they sold the palace to Campo de Fiori and in 1688 also sold the current Palazzo Taverna.
In the eighteenth century they returned to be in vogue, as in 1724 the third Orsini pope, Benedetto XIII, was elected 450 years after Niccolò III.
It was part of the Gravina di Puglia branch and on returning to Rome the family had to buy a new prestigious location. Then the palace built in the Middle Ages on the Teatro di Marcello became the new Orsini palace, until 1870 when it passed to the Caetani of Sermoneta.
While a part of the Orsini Taverna building can now be rented as a venue for demonstrations and events, the apartments on the Teatro di Marcellus have different functions and somewhat mysterious properties.
The Theatre of Marcellus was created by Augustus in 15 BC. and dedicated to his nephew. It remained in operation until 420 AD. and then it became a heap of rubble and the ideal place to recover marble, columns and capitals.
From 1361 it was bought by the Savellis and became Monte Savello. In 1519 they commissioned Baldassarre Peruzzi to build the palace on the arcades of the theatre. The building passed to the Sforza Cesarini in 1712, to the Orsini in 1800 and to the Caetani in 1870.
Princess Vittoria Colonna lived from 1922 in the palace on the Teatro di Marcello. In fact, when she separated from her husband Leone Caetani, and he went to live in Canada with Ofelia Fabiani and her daughter Greta, she moved to what is the most beautiful squatter construction in the history of architecture.
He remained there until 1954 when he died at the age of 74, having created a cultural circle around him, through which Gabriele d’Annunzio and Eleonora Duse also passed.
While these Orsini palaces have had a troubled history, the Colonna Palace was always owned by the same family, which still owns it today and lives there in a small part.
At Palazzo Colonna there is the wonderful Gallery, full of paintings and open on Saturday mornings.