The Park of Villa Torlonia lies on the north boundary between the Municipality sections 2 and 3. It covers 13.2 hectares and has a rich and complex past, socially and historically, particularly regarding the development of its landscaped grounds. It originally belonged to the Pamphilj family (from the late seventeenth to mid-eighteenth century) by whom it was used principally as a farm. This was typical of the properties at that time along the Via Nomentana and other areas that lay outside the city walls. Around 1760 it passed to the Colonna family but they did not change the property much and retained its “vineyard” character.
Towards the end of the eighteenth century the many farms that lined the Via Nomentana, with their orchards, vineyards and cane fields, were turned into magnificent residences, and it was Giovanni Torlonia who started the trend when he began the transformation of his rural-style property into a sumptuous mansion, enhanced with various themed architectural outbuildings surrounded by nature.
The result is that Villa Torlonia has a differentiated and planimetric structure created by the different projects carried out by architects and landscape gardeners over the years: Valadier’s work (the architect for Giovanni Torlonia) in the north section of the park in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries has a traditional layout, with straight, symmetrical avenues of ilexes, some of which close to the principal Palace still remain; the arrangement of the south section, however, was the result of the more dramatic taste of Alessandro Torlonia (1828 to the end of the century), who had the park enlarged by the landscape gardener Giuseppe Jappelli. Jappelli gave the grounds a romantic, “English-style” atmosphere with the use of winding paths and imaginative exotic buildings.
In the early years of the twentieth century, the widening of the Via Nomentana and alterations to the entrance gave the area in front of the Casino Nobile a less symmetrical character, and this once again was used for social occasions. During Mussolini’s stay (1925–43) the garden was used for both sporting and social events but was also altered by the installation of vegetable gardens during the war. Crops of corn and potatoes, and chicken and rabbit houses were a reminder of the Villa’s rural past. The subsequent neglect the property suffered was furthered by the events of World War II, and the damage and alterations inflicted by its use as the Allied Command were the culmination of the process.
Owing to a lack of maintenance over a period of several decades, when it was opened to the public in 1978 Villa Torlonia was in extremely poor condition, necessitating an extensive municipal project of restoration drawn up by a workgroup in Department X. This was led by the architect Massimo Carlieri with the assistance of the Ministry of the Environment and Land and Sea Protection.