Villa Madama is situated half way up the slope of Monte Mario Which faces directly north-east and because the hill is curved the part (of the site) which looks towards Rome
faces south and the opposite faces north-west. The west and the south-west lie Behind the hill so that the villa is exposed to six of the eight winds.
Even uncompleted, the Villa Madama, in Rome, Italy
, with its loggia and segmental columned garden court and its casino with an open center, was one of the most famous and imitated villas and terraced gardens of the High Renaissance. The palace is on the lower slopes of Monte Mario, on the West Bank
of the Tiber, a few miles north of the Vatican, and just south of the Foro Olimpico Stadium. Entrance is limited and touring of gardens requires prior permission with Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, cousin of the reigning pontiff Leo X, ordered the villa built on a prominent site against the lowermost slopes of Monte Mario, on the edge of Rome. The plan was designed by Raphael, who then left the execution (started in 1518) to his disciples, one of the most brilliant teams ever assembled on a site: Antonio da Sangallo the Younger produced the final plans and supervised the actual construction. The decorations are by Giulio Romano and Baldassare Peruzzi, both prime architects in their own right; Giovanni da Udine
did stucco bas-reliefs imitating work found in Nero's recently-rediscovered Domus Aurea; Giovan Francesco Penni ("il Fattore") and the Florentine sculptor Baccio Bandinelli worked there too.
Aside from the Raphael loggia, the villa's greatest artistic element is the salone painted by Giulio Romano, with its magnificent vaulted ceiling. Raphael died at the age of 37 in 1520, with work at the villa far from completed. But after Giulio de' Medici became the second Medici pope, as Clement VII in 1523, work resumed in 1524-1525 and the villa was soon completed.
Legacy and Gardens
The Villa Madama was the first of the revived Roman type of suburban villas designed for parties and entertainment built in 16th century Rome, and it was consciously conceived to rival descriptions of the villas of Antiquity, like Pliny's famous description of his own. It had a courtyard with a monumental flight of steps, a circular court around which formal gardens were arranged, an open air theater excavated in the hillside, a hippodrome below, and a terraced garden with views of the Tiber river. In the garden facing the loggia, the Elephant Fountain, designed by Giovanni da Udine, commemorates the Indian elephant "Annone", brought to Rome by a Portuguese ambassador for the consecration of Leo X in 1514.