The Palazzo Chigi-Albani is one of Italy’s most well-known abandoned buildings. It might seem ironic that a “forgotten” place is so often under the spotlight. Still, many groups and government parties are trying to save this historical building, which is sadly becoming a victim of time and deterioration. The palace is a remnant of the renaissance, and it is found in the province of Viterbo. The palace dates back to the age of feudalism, and it was built as a reward for a nobleman for serving Pope Pio IV and hosting the council of Trento. The surrounding land owned by the lord continued to expand, so he envisioned the construction of a palace that would reflect the grand magnitude of his status as a feudal lord. The opulent premises rivaled some of Italy’s most affluent palaces. However, the building fell to dark times in subsequent eras, up until it was purchased by the Albani family in 1715. In addition to the palace, the nearby fountain is very well-known, at times more so than the building itself, and often becoming a synonym with it!
The fountain is notable for its wonderful sculpture. Some of them are even older, dating back to the 1500s. The aesthetic theme that drives the design of the fountain is an allegory. All the sculptures and iconography are related to the meaning of water and its crucial importance for life. It also holds references to the eternal tides that define the constant struggle between good and evil forces in the universe. As it was common at the time, mystic iconography blends seamlessly with Christianity and religious symbols. These include references to the bible, including a representation of Moses (whose relationship with water is very well-known, from the parting of the sea down to the miracle of water coming from a rock to quench the thirst of the Jewish people stranded in the desert.) The complexity of the design is truly remarkable, in spite of the relatively smaller size of this fountain. The nearby “ninfeo” is also stunning, and it features rock sculptures in a more natural style, highlighting the free flow and space of the water within
Often hailed as one of the most overlooked monumental fountains of Italy, Fonte Papacqua is often considered one of the country’s most charming fountains by history aficionados and local researchers alike. I was unfortunately unable to take a photo of the fountain during my visit.
To this day, the palace is still abandoned, and it is only possible to visit on special occasions. The signs of decay are not terribly apparent from the outside, while the inside has received significant improvements over the years. The building still holds a wide variety of paintings and works of art, some of which have been donated by local and international artists and patrons.
The site features an additional building, which was meant to be for servants and workers to stay. The main residence was meant to be the primary home of the lord, while there is also a vast stable, which is perhaps one of the best-kept sections of the site to this day.