Villa Farnesina, in Rome, speaks of at least three love stories: the ones between Psyche and Cupid, Polyphemus and Galatea, and Alexander the Great and Roxana. Stories with very different plots, yet based on the most common feelings and factors in any love affair: beauty, jealousy, delusion, interest, deceit, betrayal, sacrifice…
After all, the splendid 16th-century building in Trastevere – one of the most beautiful of the Italian Renaissance, thanks to the wonderful harmony between architectural design and pictorial decorations – was built by the rich Sienese banker Agostino Chigi, who had certainly known true love.
Chigi had the villa – currently home to the Lincean Academy’s representative office – built between 1508 and 1512 and decorated by artists who could capture his personal taste and culture: Raffaello Sanzio, Sebastiano del Piombo, Baldassare Peruzzi, Sodoma and Giulio Romano, among others.
Today we can admire the wonderful results of his design: the Loggia of Cupid and Psyche, named after a cycle painted in 1518 by Raphael and his school; the Hall of Galatea with the “Triumph of Galatea” fresco, again by Raphael, and mighty “Polyphemus” by Del Piombo; the Hall of Alexander and Roxana’s Wedding, with the fresco of the same name that Sodoma painted in 1519; the Frieze Hall, with mythological scenes painted in 1508 by Peruzzi, who, eleven years later, also created the illusionist views of the Hall of Perspectives.
This is a place where love and art lived together a wonderful season.