Last week i received the newsletter of the Canadian Club of Rome, a few years ago while living in Rome, I was the V.P. of the Club and we organized quite a few nice events. One being the beginning of the Season usually in September after the Summer vacations when everyone returns to Rome. Usually it was a cocktail party in a out of the ordinary place, that is not difficult to find in Rome or Italy for that matter.
This year the opening party is at a new hotel on Piazza Navona, the old palace known as Palazzo Pamphilj was once the home of the Princely Pamphilj family around 1644. It has become the Eitch Borromini Hotel.
The hotel seen here next to the Church of St-Agnes in Agony is located on Piazza Navona which was the former stadium built by Emperor Domitian for chariot races which explains the design of the piazza to this day. Originally this palace was a college built by Cardinal Pamphilj then when he was elected Pope in 1644 taking the name of Innocent X he converted the college into a palace for his family, every Pontiff did that at the time, they would reside at the Lateran Palace seat of the Bishop of Rome but have another Palace built to show off the grandeur and prestige of his own family. It was called a lay palace and because this was the Baroque era, the Age of Princes, would be decorated by the finest artist of the time in this case Francesco Borromini a Swiss from the Ticino. The Church of St-Agnes in Agony was the private chapel of the Pamphilj family and Pope Innocent X did not want you to forget whose palace it was, asked Gian Lorenzo Bernini to help him redecorate and re-structure Piazza Navona in what you see today with the enormous Egyptian obelisk standing above the Four Rivers fountain ( Nile, Danube, Ganges, Rio de la Plata) to the greater glory of his family and the Universal Catholic Church, an age of excess but also of art and refinement. Today the Pamphilj family live in one of their other far larger palace on Piazza Venezia and Prince Jonathan Doria-Pamphilj has opened his family’s art gallery to the public. It is composed of treasures of the Renaissance and Baroque era by of course the greatest artists of the time.
Imagine having an elegant lunch on the rooftop of the Palace with this view. The dome you see in this pictures is San Andrea della Valle, known as Tosca’s Church because of its association with the Opera by Puccini. Brings back lots of memories.