Popes, Parties, and Power: The Renaissance Villa Farnesina with Alexandra Massini - Context Travel

Popes, Parties, and Power: The Renaissance Villa Farnesina with Alexandra Massini


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An unparalleled gem among Renaissance Villas, the Farnesina in Rome embodied the dream of the richest man in Europe and became the playground of the papal court. The Villa, built in the early sixteenth century for the wealthy banker Agostino Chigi, the ‘Great Gatsby’ of his time, quickly became the quintessential model of the central Italian Villa. This conversation will explore the narrative behind its creation and existence, its array of inhabitants over the years, and the impressive treasure troves that have been found inside its rich interiors.

Amidst lush gardens and painted interiors illustrating stories derived from Latin and Greek literature, Chigi entertained the most magnificent of Renaissance courts hosting lavish banquets and poetry readings, as well as love affairs and political intrigues. We’ll learn about some of his guests, from popes and cardinals to princes and diplomats, to literates, artists, and courtesans. The villa was permanently buzzing with visitors.

Built by Baldassarre Peruzzi, we’ll discuss how the villa imitated the famous retreats of Latin authors like Cicero or Pliny. We’ll also learn of the impressive makeup of the villa: the Farnesina was home to a much-praised viridarium filled with exotic plants and rare fruits from the New World, a refined collection of classical sculpture, frescoes by Raphael, and Sebastiano del Piombo, and luxury furnishings (including a bed encrusted with precious stones).

Led by Alexandra Massini, an expert on the Italian Renaissance, this interactive seminar will unveil the treasures of the Villa Farnesina, the stories (painted and real) unfolding in its rooms, as well as the artists and the political personalities that populated its famed events. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the politics of taste and culture in sixteenth-century Rome, the importance of classical antiquity in the Renaissance, and the extravagant patronage of one of history’s earliest venture capitalists (who, among other things, owned a bank, a port, a fleet, an alum mine, and a printing press).

Alexandra Massini was raised in Italy and Germany, before moving to the U.K. where she studied History of Art. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Warwick, B.A. and M.A. degrees with Double Distinction from the Courtauld Institute of Art, as well as a Diploma from the Study Centre for the History of the Fine and Decorative Arts. Currently, Alexandra is the Academic Director of CEA Study Abroad in Rome, where she also teaches History of Art. Aside from her academic activity, she works as author, consultant, and speaker for documentaries on art and history, collaborates with the Colonna and Doria Pamphilj galleries in Rome, and curates the Art Collection of the Rome Cavalieri Hotel (Waldorf-Astoria). As a licensed guide, she conducts specialized visits for embassies, governmental institutions, collectors, and museum curators and has acted as study leader for U.S. organizations such as the World Monuments Fund and the National Trust USA. In the past, she has written for Blue Guides and has published her own guide book to Rome, has worked for the Thyssen Museum in Madrid and Sotheby’s Auctioneers in Rome, and has organized large scale events for international investor groups. She is tri-lingual in German, Italian, and English, fluent in Spanish, and has a working knowledge of French.

This conversation is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 6 reviews
83%
(5)
17%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
N
N.
Wonderful!!!

Guest did not leave comment

c
c.

Guest did not leave comment

P
P.
Brilliant

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant

m
m.b.

This was a lovely talk on one of my favorite places in Rome, the Villa Farnesina. I've visited many times, but Alexandra provided lots of detail on the paintings, and what the Villa was actually used for during the 16cen. -none of which I'd known about. She clearly loves the Villa!

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment

Customer Reviews

Based on 6 reviews
83%
(5)
17%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
N
N.
Wonderful!!!

Guest did not leave comment

c
c.

Guest did not leave comment

P
P.
Brilliant

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant

m
m.b.

This was a lovely talk on one of my favorite places in Rome, the Villa Farnesina. I've visited many times, but Alexandra provided lots of detail on the paintings, and what the Villa was actually used for during the 16cen. -none of which I'd known about. She clearly loves the Villa!

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment