This wonderful palace , built in 1744-1748 for baron Rondanini, was restructured and furbished in the 1760s as a living museum to show off the wealthy Lombard family’s collection of art and antiquities. After the Rondinini family sold the house in 1801 (there were no heirs) it was owned by a string officials and dignitaries for the next century. Many of its antiquities were taken abroad during that period. In 1904 there were some updates to the building and in 1946 it fell into financial hands when the Banca Nazionale dell’Agricoltura bought it. One of the antiquities to be taken away was the Rondanini Medusa, a Roman-era copy of an original Greek Gorgon’s face (with snakes) that adorned the shield of the colossal statue of Athene that once stood in the Parthenon. Our guide told us that John Paul Getty was involved in the Medusa’s departure.
Some of the notable pieces include the courtyard’s six-hour clock, the only traditional Roman six-hour clock to survive Pius IX’s introduction of the French 12-hour time keeping in 1846.
The fame of Palazzo Rondinini is due to one of Michelangelo’s masterpieces, the Pietà Rondanini (now in Milan). None of the historical details of this palace has been touched since the XVIII century: ancient scuptures, paintings and frescoes surrounds the visitor.
Palazzo Rondinini is open to visitors only the first Sunday of October, in a lovely idea called the ‘Invito a Palazzo’.