Villa Torlonia Museum: All about Mussolini House in Rome
The beautiful Villa Torlonia and its annex the Casina Delle Civette is a lesser known but no less impressive Rome attraction.
Located a short walk from the Villa Borghese, the lush grounds alone are a reason to visit. The Villa gets its name from the Torlonia family – a wealthy family who had made their wealth as administrators for the Vatican.
- 1 The History of Villa Torlonia
- 2 Villa Torlonia – Mussolini House Rome
- 3 What to see at Villa Torlonia
- 4 Facts about Jewish Catacombs under Villa Torlonia
- 5 Get Villa Torlonia Tickets
- 6 Villa Torlonia Museum Opening Hours
- 7 How to visit House of Owls Rome – Maps & Location
- 8 Frequently asked Questions
- 9 Conclusion
The History of Villa Torlonia
The Torlonia family commissioned the conversion of a building in the grounds into a villa in the early 1800s. Over 30 years Giovanni Torlonia, and later his son, worked on the villa and the Casina Delle Civette.
They also constructed stables, laid out the English style gardens and constructed some interesting monuments within the grounds.
Villa Torlonia – Mussolini House Rome
From the 1920s, Mussolini rented the house from the family. He paid the princely sum of one lira per annum. He retained the lease until 1943. He hosted parties and events in the gardens, and lived in the main house. During the war, Mussolini’s wife established a vegetable garden in the grounds. But apart from this small modification, the estate was largely unaltered by the Duce’s long term stay.
Unfortunately, after 1945 the beautiful villa – then known as the Mussolini house Rome – and grounds fell into disrepair. Some of the monuments no longer exist, and the grand entrance was demolished during street works. In the 1970’s the state acquired the property, and it was refurbished in the 1990s.
What to see at Villa Torlonia
The Villa Torlonia is now open to the public and largely restored to its original grand style. Here’s a list of things to see and do at the Villa Torlonia.
Giussepe Valadier – the main architect tasked by the Torlonias to renovate – designed the grounds. The lawns and walkways were designed in symmetrical fashion, in english style. Within the grounds you can see statues, lakes, and the outbuildings, all surrounded by beautiful foliage.
Casina delle Civette
This building, located within the grounds, is known as the House of Owls Rome. Until 1938, one of the Torlonia nephews lived in it. Originally, it was a simple swiss cabin, which had been built for those wishing to relax in a less formal environment.
Now, it is a sprawling building made of a wooden structure that is connected to the main part by an underground corridor. From its humble beginnings it has now evolved into a pretty impressive house.
The House of Owls Rome
Casina delle Civette is also known as the House of Owls, Rome. This is due to the owls depicted on the stained glass window. Also, owls feature heavily in the internal decor.
The compound was so elaborate there was even a theatre. It was built in 1874 by the family, but quickly fell into disrepair. Recently the city of Rome restored the entertainment space. The works were sponsored by Pirelli and took 6 years. After a closure of 70 years, the theatre held its first performance in 2013!
Casino dei Principi
If the House of the Owls, Rome wasn’t enough, check out the Casino dei Principi. It means House of the Princes in english. The building already stood on the site when the Torlonias acquired the area.
It was restored and used by Prince Alessandro Torlonia. The Casino dei Principi is connected to the main house by an underground walkway. Only some of the elaborate internal decor has survived, including the mosaics.
Valadier was also commissioned to work on the Casino Nobile. With imposing columns and a sumptuous internal decor, the building sure catches the eye. Underneath the house you will find 2 Villa Torlonia bunkers – requested by Mussolini – used as a gas and a bomb shelter respectively.
Facts about Jewish Catacombs under Villa Torlonia
In 1919, just before the arrival of Il Duce, a subterranean Jewish burial ground was uncovered, right in the Mussolini House Rome grounds. It is estimated that there are almost 4000 graves in these catacombs.
Frescos showing life thousands of years ago for Jews were uncovered. Dating back as far as the 2nd century AD, the catacombs are under restoration and currently closed to the public.
Get Villa Torlonia Tickets
The gardens of the Villa Torlonia are free to the public to explore. In the summer months this is a great place – there are sometimes concerts on during the warmer months.
Entering the museums housed in Casina delle Civette and the Casino Nobile require a charge. In addition, if there are special exhibitions on, there is an additional fee. Below, the standard entry to the Musei di Villa Torlonia is detailed.
Casina delle Civette ticket combined with Casino Nobile:
- adults €9.50
- concessions €7.50
Casina Civette only:
- adults €6
- concessions €4
Get your tickets here online today for the Villa Torlonia. Oh, and if you have a Roma Tourist Card you will get 20% discount on admission!
Villa Torlonia Museum Opening Hours
The museums are open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am. Check the website in advance for seasonal closing times, but it is usually around 7pm.
How to visit House of Owls Rome – Maps & Location
The Villa Torlonia is located on the via Nomentana, 70. The best way to get there is to take bus number 90, which you can easily get at Rome Termini bus terminal.
Check out this map below to get your bearings:
Frequently asked Questions
Here are some of the questions we get asked about this astonishing attraction.
Where is Villa Torlonia?
The buildings and grounds are located on Via Nomentana 70. From the Villa Borghese it is about a 20 minute walk.
Who built Villa Torlonia?
The existing buildings on the compound were modified at the behest of the Torlonia family. They were renovated and added to over centuries.
When was Villa Torlonia built?
The building was made at the beginning of the 19th century.
How to visit the Villa Torlonia?
You can visit the grounds for free, but there are tickets required for the museums.
For what is Villa Torlonia used?
It is now owned by the city of Rome and is open to the public. In the summer, concerts take place in the grounds.
Take a trip to the Villa Torlonia and the Mussolini house Rome if you are on that side of town, visiting the Villa Borghese. On a sunny day, a stroll through the grounds is enough to make you feel like royalty.
If you are interested in the life and times of the Torlonia family, accessing the museums is a must. Unfortunately, the Jewish Villa Torlonia catacombs remain closed for renovation. We are eagerly awaiting the opening of this attraction to show us more about Jewish burial customs in Rome.