Villa Torlonia, the most recent of the villas belonging to Rome’s nobility, still retains a particular fascination due to the originality of its English-style garden (one of the few examples in the city), and to the unexpectedly large number of buildings and garden furniture in the grounds.
The attractions of the site are the Casino Nobile (the home of the Villa Museum and the collection of works by the Roman School), the Casino dei Principi (used for exhibitions and the home of the Roman School Archive), and the Museum of the Casina delle Civette.
When Giovanni Torlonia inherited the title of Marchese in 1797, to confirm his new status he purchased Villa Colonna (formerly Villa Pamphilj) on Via Nomentana and commissioned Giuseppe Valadier to renovate the property to raise it to the standard of the other villas belonging to noble families in Rome.
Between 1802 and 1806 Valadier turned the main building into an elegant palace, transformed the small Casino Abbati into a very gracious palazzina (today the Casino dei Principi), and built the Stables and an imposing entrance (demolished when the Via Nomentana was widened). He also laid out the park with symmetrical, perpendicular avenues around the palace, and the view to the north from the building in line with one of the entrances to the Villa from Via Nomentana. Numerous works of Classical art, many of which were sculptural, were purchased to furnish the Villa.