Still feeling a bit jet lagged, we met as a group to discuss the first day of exploring the city. For our first analytique assignment, I have been given the priveledge of studying the Villa Guilia. This beautiful villa was built for Pope Guilio III as “a place to change clothes and take a bath.” To reach the Villa Giulia from the Hotel Derby, I would be taking the underground Blue Line from Garbatella to Termini then switching trains to the Red Line from which I would get off at Flaminia. A bit of walking the city streets and I would be able to find the villa.

Being that it was our first real day in the city, my journey was arranged around a small group. We took the underground from our hotel to the Spanish Steps which were quite a spectacle of people. Climbing to the top of the steps, we began to approach the first stop on our list: the Villa Medici. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get inside because as we approached the gates, they shut dramatically in our faces. Unphased and eager to explore, we walked the perimeter of the building and experienced the phenomenal view of the surrounding city from the Medici’s high perch. From our elevated position, the Piazza del Popolo was clearly visible, so we began our descent. The Piazza del Popolo is a grand space with a giant Egyptian obelisk and lion fountain in the center. This was a great place to observe the way that people move through a public space. Many use the obelisk as a navigational tool, associating it’s image with their location in relation to other Roman monuments. While some simply cross through the piazza, others gather near the fountains to chat or along the edges if they are seeking more of a private space. After experiencing this for myself, it was on to the Villa Giulia.

After crossing through the threshold of the Piazza del Popolo, I walked along Via Flaminia, eagerly awaiting the turnoff for the villa. Turning off the main road onto Via di Villa Giulia, the road became more narrow and the villa was visible in the distance. Up close, the exterior seemed simple: symmetrical facade gently affected by years of aging…something very natural about it. Once inside, the experience was quite different. The axial layout was comprised of the villa itself and a central courtyard with gardens on either side. Inside the central courtyard I felt secluded and secure, almost to the extent that I forgot my journey outside the walls. I felt particularly at ease in the peaceful gardens on either side of the court but there were really two spaces that piqued my architectural interest. The curved arcade of the villa itself was a phenomenal space to inhabit as well as view the rest of the property. Also inline with the central axis was a fascinating sunken space which I did not expect to find. I was immediately curious as to what went on in this special sunken courtyard and couldn’t help but observe what an interesting contribution it was to the sectional qualities of the overall site.

Panoramic View of the Villa Giulia from the Central Court

Beneath the Curved Arcade

The Mysterious Sunken Space In Line With the Central Court

Overall, Day 1 in ROMA was a great success 🙂