ABSTRACT

151In seventeenth-century Rome, the end of spring marked the great annual “migration” of much of the aristocracy from town to country, whence it returned in late September or early October. 1 Many of these aristocrats additionally headed back to the country in February to enjoy the pleasures of hunting. Country residences permitted a less rigorous protocol, while naturally enhancing the visibility of urban families and allowing them to benefit from the peace and coolness of extensive gardens, denied by the city. 2 Just like their urban counterparts, however, these abodes necessarily expressed the social status of their owners: both in their architecture and lavish furnishings. The Latium region counted a good number of aristocratic country residences, including, notably, the Farnese Palace at Caprarola and the Villa Lante at Bagnaia, near Viterbo, both of which clearly exemplified the aspiration of the nobility and the cardinals of Rome to use these edifices, similarly to their collections of paintings and statues, to confirm and legitimize their social and political standing.