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Villa Aldini

Historical building, Bologna

Villa Aldini: Attraction informations

Villa Aldini is maybe the biggest architectural example of Napoleon’s era in Bologna. Its huge Neoclassical façade can be seen from as far as the town centre, especially from Via Marconi.

The villa stands on top of Colle dell'Osservanza, with its namesake shrine. Its construction started in 1811 under the project of Giovanni Battista Martinetti, part of the middle class and a Napoleon supporter.

His wife, Cornelia, was famous for her vivacity and the parties she hosted in her home in via San Vitale. The house was inside the building of the monastery around the Church of San Vitale and Agricola in Arena. After Napoleon’s expropriations, most of the church’s properties were divided among the noble families who had supported Napoleon. Martinetti was one of them, and used his abilities as an architect to restore the old building, transforming it into their home.

Villa Aldini is one of Martinetti’s greatest creations. Built on behalf of Count Antonio Aldini, a Republican minister who wanted to honour Napoleon’s passing through Bologna in 1805.

The interior of the villa was never completed and is quite disappointing when compared to its amazing façade with its 180° view of the city.

The place where the villa stands was previously occupied by a Romanesque church called Madonna del Monte, a retire haven for women founded probably at the end of the XII. In fact, inside the villa we can still find the remains of this ancient place of worship: the so-called “rotonda”, which takes its name from its circular shape and is probably dated from the XII century. The rotonda was included in the construction of the new villa and used as a main room or dining-room.

During the restorations in the thirties, and thanks to professor Zucchini’s interest, a series of Romanesque frescoes have come out into the light. The frescoes are one of the remaining testimonies of wall painting of those times.

Villa Aldini holds 19 recesses which were once richly decorated and are partially conserved. The decorations represent images of the Madonna and the Apostles. One of the decorations is a painting of the Madonna by Simone dei Crocifissi, currently treasured in the church of San Salvatore.

Inside the modern part of the building, the walls are decorated by Felice Giani, one of the main exponents of the Italian Neoclassicism, formed in the school of the Bibiena and responsible of the building of the Teatro Comunale. Giani was very productive in Faenza, where we can find his masterpiece: the entire decoration of Palazzo Milzetti, carried out in 1802.