Domus Romane of Palazzo Valentini

Via Quattro Novembre 119 A. (Open Map)


The archaeological excavations under Palazzo Valentini open to the public on a permanent basis from October 16, 2010 and the new archaeological area of the Domus Romane will enhance the art and historic heritage of Rome.

The project for the recent works, the research and the conversion of the area into a museum carried out by art historians, archaeologists and architects, working together with the Provincial Government, has achieved excellent results that reveal the importance of this area during the Roman era and provide new information on the ancient and mediaeval topography of the city of Rome.

The evocative tour runs though the ruins of patrician “Domus” of the imperial era belonging to powerful families of the times, perhaps senators, and the houses are decorated with mosaics, wall paintings, polychrome and paved floors, and other artefacts. Piero Angela and a team of engineers and experts, such as Paco Lanciano and Gaetano Capasso, have enhanced the site and revived the past by creating virtual reconstructions, visual effects and films.

Visitors will be able to see the walls, rooms, peristyles, baths, receiving rooms, decorations, kitchens and furniture “come back to life” and to experience a virtual journey inside an important ancient Roman Domus. A large plastic model of the area as it appeared in Roman times, and showing the various stages of Palazzo Valentini, completes the tour. This maquette enables visitors to visualize the numerous historic stratifications and place themselves inside the urban fabric. it is a unique and important example of how art heritage of the past, that has been recovered by a process of careful and scrupulous restoration and requalification, can be enhanced thanks to the use of innovative technology. 

Works on Palazzo Valentini started at the end of the 16th century and was promoted by Cardinal Michele Bonelli, nephew of Pope Pio V. The cardinal had supported a vast operation to reclaim the area of the Fori Imperiali. At this stage, building may have been supervised by Brother Domenico Paganelli who designed the trapezoidal plan of the edifice. it was closed off from piazza SS. Apostoli by an elegant façade, and in the 17th century a series of conversions and extensions were commissioned by Cardinal Carlo Bonelli. 

At the beginning of the 18th century, the palazzo was rented to Prince Ruspoli and his family and, among others, was lived in by the composer G. F. Haendel. In the mid 18th century, the entire building was purchased by Cardinal Giuseppe Spinelli who housed the vast library of the Imperial Forum consisting of more than twenty four thousand books in it, and opened its doors to the public. In 1827 the building was purchased by the banker Vincenzo Valentini who turned it into his residence and promoted the completion of the works towards the Forum. 

In 1873, after the palazzo became the property of the Provincial Deputation of Rome, renovation work was carried out and new extensions were added to turn it into the Provincial Council headquarters.