Since 1950, the French Embassy to the Holy See has been installed in Villa Bonaparte, near “Porta Pia”. The building was erected in 1749 for Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga, Pope Benedict XIV’s secretary of state. Undoubtedly, it was the proximity of the Palazzo del Quirinale, where he held the position (now the seat of the Presidency of the Republic), which prompted the prelate to choose this place. The cardinal transformed the gardens into orchards and raised the pavilion to the center, whose decorations and furnishings soon became famous: the collection of Chinese papers, the mechanical table in the dining room and the exotic plants in the garden were all oddities. Rome of the eighteenth century.
After the fall of the Empire, part of the Bonaparte family, Mother (Laetitia), Cardinal Fesch, Napoleon’s uncle, some of his brothers settled under the protection of Pope Pius VII (prisoner of Fontainebleau who had crowned Napoleon). Napoleon’s sister, Pauline, Princess Borghese, who had followed the emperor fallen on the Island of Elba, joined them in 1815 and acquired Villa Valenti. She undertook important works thus mixing the empire style with the 18th century Roman architecture. Upon Pauline’s death in 1825, the villa passed to his grandchildren and their descendants until 1906 when it was sold to the Prussian government who installed his legation near the Holy See in 1908, which became the embassy of Germany between 1920 and 1944. After the war, the Reich property was confiscated by the Allies and France bought it to establish its representation near the Holy See.
Since the 1980s, a vast restoration program has rediscovered decorations created at the time of the cardinal and Pauline and which had been covered over time with whitewashing.
The “Mobilier National” has chosen to maintain the imperial taste line in harmony with the magnificence of the Villa Bonaparte. This meant that the house retained its originality characterized by the sense of Italian Beauty and the French art de vivre.
This villa is surrounded by a 2-hectare park which contributes to its beauty and makes it an exceptional place. The parking lot can accommodate 40 vehicles.