Palazzo Venezia – More than Mussolini’s Balcony

Recently I went inside a building I have walked or driven by probably a thousand times, the Palazzo Venezia. I had never entered the palazzo before. But it was a first Sunday of the month, consequently, the museum in Palazzo Venezia had free admission, and we decided to give it a try. Most people know Palazzo Venezia as the site of the balcony from which Benito Mussolini gave his speeches.

Mussolini declares war on France and England from the balcony of Palazzo Venezia.
Mussolini declares war on France and England from the balcony of Palazzo Venezia.

The palazzo itself is architecturally significant, an example of how a medieval core (today clearly seen in the medieval tower on one side), was later modified with early Renaissance elements.  It’s a massive palace, clearly built more for safety than for beauty.

Palazzo Venezia
Palazzo Venezia.

The rather eclectic collection focuses on early Christian art, though it also includes Renaissance paintings, ancient statuary and inscriptions, ceramics, bronzes, and tapestries.

A German wooden Madonna and child.
A German wooden Madonna and child.

 

From the ceramics collection at Palazzo Venezia -- I liked the little rabbit!
From the ceramics collection at Palazzo Venezia — I liked the little rabbit!

 

Giorgio Vasari, Holy Family with the infant St. John and St. Francis, in the museum of Palazzo Venezia.
Giorgio Vasari, Holy Family with the infant St. John and St. Francis, in the museum of Palazzo Venezia.

The museum was certainly worthwhile — particularly on a free day — but, I was more impressed with the palazzo itself than the museum collection. The first courtyard is a large, lovely green oasis.

First courtyard at Palazzo Venezia.
First courtyard at Palazzo Venezia.

 

Fountain in the courtyard of Piazza Venezia.
Fountain in the courtyard of Piazza Venezia, a depiction of Venice personified, throwing a ring into the sea.

 

The fountain with Venus, in palazzo Venezia's first courtyard.
The fountain with Venus, in palazzo Venezia’s first courtyard.

To enter the museum, you walk up a marvelous staircase, and you may see some lovely little details on the way:

Staircase of Palazzo Venezia.
Staircase of Palazzo Venezia.

 

Whimsical carved capital, Palazzo Venezia.
Whimsical carved capital, Palazzo Venezia.

The interior includes the Altoviti Hall, a stunning room with an elaborate ceiling and gorgeous frescoes, including the one at the top of this post.

The Altoviti Hall.
The Altoviti Hall.

 

The Altoviti Hall, ceiling medallion.
The Altoviti Hall, ceiling medallion, depicting the goddess Ceres.

 

The Altoviti Hall, close up of a fresco.
The Altoviti Hall, close up of a fresco.

But the most beautiful thing about the palazzo to me is its interior courtyard, the Lapidarium.

The interior courtyard of Palazzo Venezia.
The interior courtyard of Palazzo Venezia.

 

The Lapidarium, filled with ancient marbles.
The Lapidarium, filled with ancient marbles.

 

The Lapidarium, Palazzo Venezia.
The Lapidarium, Palazzo Venezia.

Oh, and the floors are beautiful too. (Yes, I have a thing for glorious floors). More on the floors of Palazzo Venezia later.

 

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