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Navona - Campo de' Fiori: "The Turtles Dream" apartment

The "piano nobile" and the family history

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Dr. Afan de Rivera Costaguti with his wife, owners of the Turtles' Dream apartment.

The left photo shows your landlord and your landlady: Dr. Afan de Rivera Costaguti and his wife. Through our service, they will be your hospitable and courteous hosts. They are the last descendants of a noble family owning the palace since 1578.

The Costaguti - Afan De Rivera is one of the most prominent aristocratic families of Italy. In their history, they counted a king, at least three viceroys, two cardinals, a saint and a many high army commanders. Notably it is one of the only 6 noble families entitled to be visited by the Pope at their home (please find more information below).

Humble Pope Francis doesn't attach importance to these titles, as well as the members of this family, who are open-minded and who don't hark back in the past.

Because of the works of art situated in the palace and the history of the family, it was visited by several royals, including Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.

The family is a result of the merging of two noble families. We will thus consider each, as we visit some of the many works of art within the Piano Nobile.

Palazzo Costaguti Marquises Baldachin

Piano Nobile: the Baldachin (canopy) Hall. The throne for the Pope's visit was placed beneath it.

Costaguti

The Costaguti are a noble family originally from the Italian Riviera (the region including Genoa, called "Liguria" in Italian). They became bankers of the Catholic Church in the 16th century, and especially of Pope Paul V Borghese (17th century), the main author of St. Peter's Basilica and of the Vatican. A simple look at the facade of St. Peter's Basilica (photo below) shows how important this Pope was in the construction of the basilica: his name is written in gigantic letters.

The Costaguti collected all the funds of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Giovan Battista Costaguti participated in the building project of the Basilica. Another Cardinal, Vincenzo Costaguti, was tutor of fine arts and of music, and he was the principal master of ceremonies who welcomed Queen Christine of Sweden upon her arrival in Rome (23 December 1655) after her conversion to Catholicism. The two became friends sharing the same interest in music. The Queen also stayed at the Cardinal's villa in Anzio (called Villa Belvedere).

As mentioned, the Costaguti are one of the only six families having the privilege to be visited by the Pope, for which they are given the title by the Catholic Church of "Marquises of the Baldachin".

For this purpose the Costaguti must have in the palace a baldachin under which the throne for the Pope is placed during his visits (see above photo). These marquises' families were considered by the Church equal to princes rather than to ordinary nobles, thus for them the correct title was "Excellence" and not just "Don".

The family has estates in various parts of Italy, the most important is the Palazzo or Castello Costaguti in Roccalvecce, near Viterbo (you can search it in Google, making care not to confuse it with the Palazzo Costaguti in Piazza Mattei in Rome).

Adjacent to the Costaguti Palace you find the Jewish quarter, the former Ghetto. The hinges of its gates (which locked the Jews inside at night) were placed exactly on one side of the palace. It is interesting to reflect about the two different stories, that of a family so influential in the history of the Catholic Church, and that of the adjacent Roman Jews in the Ghetto, set up in 1555, by an earlier pope, the mad and intolerant Paul IV.

The Costaguti have been friends of the Jews over the centuries, and helped saving them (hiding them in the palace) when the Nazi SS rounded them up in the quarter in October 1943 to deport them to the extermination camps.

The parents of the current landlords also helped Jews in the Ghetto to retain their properties during WW2, by purchasing them during the war when they were persecuted, and by returning them to the original owners when the war ended. To express their gratitude, when the mother of the landlord died in 2005, as she courageously defied the Nazi hiding the Jews in the Palace during the Gestapo rounds, a part of the people attending the funeral where Roman Jews.

Right photo: the Coat of Arms of the Costaguti family is displayed in the floor.

The coast of arms is made of 16th century tiles, made in Vietri (in the Amalfi coast), which produces the best Italian tiles. You can single out the crown on top of the coat of arms, to indicate the elevation of the family to "Marquises of the Baldachin", a title making them equal to Princes.

In this hall you can see other coats of arms in the floor, still made of Vietri tiles. They belong to the noble families with whom the Costguti merged by marriage over the centuries.

The AFAN DE RIVERA family


Piano nobile, Hall of Months (Sala dei Mesi) by Taddeo and Federico Zuccari, beneath the spectacular wooden ceiling, nearly 8 meters high.

The family derived from the King Ramiro III of Leon in Navarra (Spain, 8th century AD). During the "Reconquista" (the process of conquering again from the Moors all the Iberian Peninsula), they became "Adelantados" (governors) of Andalusia, the Southern part of Spain, and Viceroys of Cataluna, in the North. The family ramificated into 5 branches, one of them moved to Naples (16th century), and they became viceroys of Naples, Sicily, and also of Venice.

The family also includes a saint, his name was Giovanni Afan de Rivera, and though he lived in the 16th century he was canonized by Pope John XXIII in 1960.

Most family members on the contrary were generals or high officers of the Borbone artillery during the Kingdom of Southern Italy, called "Kingdom of the Two Sicilies". Later, they were high officers in the Italian Army. Many historical documents attest their heroic acts during the 19th and 20th century.

Consistent to their heritage, the Afan de Rivera Costaguti family is kind and hospitable, and they are true to one of their mottos: "Humilitas" (Humility), especially the landlord of the "Turtles' Dream" apartment.

WORKS OF ART / PAINTINGS

In the Piano Nobile there is an impressive collection of works of art. The painters who worked in the palace include: Francesco Albani (painting: Ratto d'Europa, Europa's abduction); Giuseppe Cesari also known as Cavalier D'Arpino, who was Caravaggio's master; Gaspar Dughet also known as Gaspar Poussin (in the Poussin Hall); Giacomo and Pierfrancesco Mola (Baccus and Arianna); Raffaele Romanelli (Arione liberated by a dolphin); Domenico Zampieri also known as Domenichino (Time which reveals Truth, in collaboration with Agostino Tassi who worked on the perspective); Taddeo and Federico Zuccari (Sala dei Mesi or Hall of the Months); Giovanni Lanfranco (Sala d'Ercole, or Hercules Hall); Giovanni Francesco Barbieri also known as Il Guercino (paintings of the ceiling of the Hall of Rinaldo and Armida, together with Agostino Tassi);

We are publishing some photos, courtesy of the family.

 

Piano nobile: Hall of the Months (Sala dei Mesi), with frescoes in all the perimeter of the brothers Taddeo and Federico Zuccari, beneath the spectacular wooden ceiling (close-up).

 


 

Piano nobile, Hall of the Months by Taddeo and Federico Zuccari: every fresco symbolizes a month

Piano nobile: Hall of Rinaldo and Armind, ceiling fresco by Guercino. Rinaldo drives a chariot moved by two dragons. Piano nobile: ceiling fresco by Dominichino: Allegory of the Chariot of the Sun (Apollus), and of Time which reveals the Truth.

Fresco by Romanelli (painting: Arione liberated by a dolphin) Romanelli Arione liberated by a dolphin

 

Facade of St. Peter's Basilica.

An engraving with gigantic lettes commemorates the role in the construction of the Basilica by Pope Paul V (Borghese), of whom the Costaguti were treasurers.

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