On the border between Grottaferrata and Frascati, surrounded by a park covering 15,000 square metres, stands the wonderful Villa Grazioli, one of the most highly decorated residences to be found.
The Villa was built in 1580 on the orders of Cardinal Antonio Carafa.
In 1683 Livio Odescalchi, the Duke of Bracciano, had it restored. Then in the first decades of the 1700s, his heir Baldassarre Erba made major changes to the building, adding a “new apartment” and a “new gallery”, which were entirely covered in frescoes by Giovanni Paolo Pannini, a famous painter from Piacenza.
The gallery is almost 19 metres long and over 4 metres wide and is decorated with incredible Trompe L'Oeil architectural elements – fake columns, vaults, balustrades, niches, stuccos and statues – with the vaults painted with allegories of the elements, the seasons and the continents.
Pannini also painted the vaults in the four rooms in the new apartment, depicting the creation of light, earth, animals and the sun and the moon.
On the walls, works by Giuseppe Aldobrandini are made to look like fake marble and arcades, with grotesqueries, countryside scenes and the Odescalchi family’s heraldic symbols. The garden was also re-designed during this period.
Today the Villa is under the safeguard of the Superintendency Board of Fine Arts, which closely followed the intensive ten-year restoration programme.