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Explore Monuments in Italy | Ariccia

Chigi Park


Chigi Park


The wooded area that today makes up the Chigi Park was in the pre-Roman age part of the Nemus Aricinum, the inviolable legendary wood sacred to Diana, which surrounded the sanctuary dedicated to the goddess. The wood was named after the ancient city of Aricia, located in the current Vallericcia near the Appia Antica.

The origins of the present park date to the 16th century, when the Savelli family designed it as a hunting reserve outside the city walls. In the first half of the 17th century, the Uccelliera (the Aviary) and the Vignola (the Vineyard) were fenced. Specifically, the former was made around 1628, when Bernardino Savelli obtained the title of Duke of Ariccia from Pope Urban VIII. Near the Uccelliera a ruin of late medieval construction called "il Bove" (the Ox) was found: it was probably an ancient church dedicated to Saint Roch after whom the nearby locality, Prati di San Rocco (Saint Roch Gardens), was named. The Vignola is located beyond a gully that collects rainwater, and, as the name suggests, it was originally used as a vineyard.

In 1661 the Chigis acquired the park and held ownership until 1988, when it was purchased by the Municipality of Ariccia together with Chigi Palace. Under the Chigi family, the park, like many other areas in Aricia, was subject to redesign and restoration led by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Carlo Fontana between 1661 and 1664. The layout of the avenues, the construction of the Peschiera (the Fish Pool) with its so-called Purgatory of the waters and the Mascaron fountains date to this period. In 1666 the Community of Ariccia sold to Prince Agostino Chigi the last part of the Saint Roch Gardens, which separated the Park from the Chigi Palace: thus park and palace were reunited in a single continuous entity. Between 1666 and 1667 the Chigi family bought five vineyards from private individuals to further expand the park, which was to become a precious example of the so-called “landscape or romantic garden” for its picturesque naturalistic character. During the 18th and 19th centuries the Park was a favorite destination of the Grand Tour d'Italie, and it was reproduced in numerous paintings by artists such as Jakob Philipp Hackert, Camille Corot, William Turner and Alexander Ivanov.

In 1805 the Selvotta wood, towards Albano Laziale, was also purchased, but in 1850 – due to the construction of the Monumental Bridge – part of the area was expropriated by the papal government. The expropriation led to the abandonment of the Peschiera and of the entrance that found itself under the arches of the new bridge. The Chigi Park (also known as “Barco”, an old Italian word that stood for “hunting reserve”) is today a municipal green area of twenty-eight hectares and constitutes a precious area within the Regional Park of the Roman Castles for the presence of the old indigenous plant species, especially oaks, holm oaks and broadleaved trees, that used to thrive in those woodlands before the introduction of chestnut trees.

In 1997 the 1st century CE monument to Tiberius Latinius Pandus propraetor of Moesia was reassembled in the park, after its remains had been found along Appia Antica near the Urban Gate.

Prepared by

Museo Senza Frontiere, Saverio Capozzi, sulla base di materiale fornito da:
arch. Francesco Petrucci; © Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF).