The Villa Farnese in Caprarola, not to be mistaken for the Palazzo Farnese in Rome, is an extraordinary example of 16th century art and architecture. Despite the rooms being empty of furniture, the art that decorates the walls and ceilings will give you the feeling of the opulence of villas in the Italian countryside, as you can see from the pictures below.
Cardinal Alessandro Farnese began the building project in 1504. It was then in the shape of a pentagon with a pentagonal inner courtyard, but Alessandro Farnese the Younger preferred a circular arrangement, and the inner courtyard was changed to what you see today.
The configuration of the town needed to change to meet the demands of the villa built on its highest point. The main road, the via Filippo Nicolai, was changed to run right up to the villa. If you park at the lower end of the town, it’s a fairly steep uphill walk to get to it.
Here is a picture of the facade taken from the via Filippo. At this vantage point, you can’t tell that the structure is pentagonal.
Location Map of the Villa Farnese
The Villa Farnese is located in northern Lazio, Viterbo province.
How to get to the Villa Farnese
If you are staying in Viterbo, a fine base for exploring northern Lazio, it will take you about 21 minutes to drive to Caprarola. By public transportation, the bus will take 25 minutes and cost 1-2 euro. We stayed near Lago di Vico, a volcanic crater lake, in a highly recommended agriturismo apartment with kitchen called Ferrari. It was a 6 km drive from there.
Where to eat in Caprarola
Although we didn’t eat there, we recommend the Trattoria del Cimino da Colombo dal 1895 on the main road near the villa. It has an extensive menu of Lazio favorites at a reasonable price, according to the chalkboard. There is also a list of seasonal favorites. Plates of pasta will cost you 11-13 euro, meat courses a few euros more. The trattoria is tucked inside Caprarola’s oldest palazzo, dating back to 1370.
The main street also has many shops and bars which offer sandwiches.
Pictures of the Villa Farnese
This last painting was high on a wall. It’s a picture right out of my phone. Normally, the location would make the verticals converge at the top, but the artist has accounted for the viewing point and made everything work out right for the viewer of the work.
We enjoyed a visit of an hour or so, visiting the interior of the villa and a corner of the gardens. We enjoyed it very much, and thank Mike and Martha of A Path to Lunch for recommending it.
Opening Hours and Visiting Information
The Villa Farnese is closed on Monday. See the opening hours from this page despite the “Palazzo Farnese” heading.