Villa Giorgina

Villa Giorgina

When diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Italy were established, following the Lateran Treaty of 11th February, 1929, the Apostolic Nunciature accredited to the Italian Government was first housed in a villa on via Nomentana, in Rome, which currently houses the Libyan Embassy to Italy.

In 1959, the then Pope, Saint John XXIII, moved the Apostolic Nunciature to Villa Giorgina, located in the district of Roma Salario, with a park covering an area of about 20,000 square metres and delimited by the following streets: via Po, via Salaria, largo Ponchielli, via Peri and via Caccini.

Villa Giorgina was a gift to the Holy See from Mr. Abraham Jacob Isaiah Levi, a rich industrialist from Turin, a Grand Officer of the Order of Merit, and Senator of the Kingdom of Italy, who died on 6th March, 1949, at the age of 85, having converted to Catholicism.

Having been saved, together with his family, from the racial harassment during the Second World War, thanks to Pope Pius XII, on 16th January, 1947, Senator Levi made his will, which was published on 9th March, 1949, and in which he wrote:
 
“To His Holiness the reigning Pontiff at the time of my death  …

Most Holy Father …. Grateful to Divine Providence for having preserved me from the perils of the iniquitous racial conflict … and grateful for the protection given to me during this turbulent period, with filial piety I present to Your Holiness my will. … I leave to Your Holiness my villa in Rome, via Po 29, named Villa Giorgina, in memory of my beloved daughter, who passed away at an early age.

This villa is my dearest possession.  It is enriched by valuable plants, which I have cultivated with the utmost care. There is an abundance of water with fountains and nymphaea, archaeological remains, monumental stairways and greenhouses for flowers. The building is the best that could be planned and constructed at that time. The external facades are a noble design of brick and travertine, inspired by 17th century Roman fashion. Inside, the large halls and the grand staircase are decorated with the most valuable marbles, as are the floors, doorframes, balustrades, columns, fireplaces, etc. Sumptuous wooden ceilings, decorated with antique paintings, embellish various rooms, and the most up-to-date facilities make the house comfortable …
Among the proposed uses for Villa Giorgina is that of housing the Apostolic Nunciature… which would be the most suitable, given the layout of the rooms, the existing decor, the quietness of the house, isolated, as it is, in the middle of a vast garden surrounded by streets.”

Around 1920 the architect Clemente Busiri Vici, was commissioned to build the villa.  The house consists of a building in neoclassical style, with 17th and 18th century details, typical of the Roman villas during the splendour of Rome under the Renaissance Papacy. A remarkable quantity of ancient material was used to decorate the building - an example of which is the large and fine-looking entry gate, originally from Villa Doria, which gives access to the vast and lush park.

The huge garden is rich in English-style lawns and tall trees, amongst which the most striking are the palms, cedars and the typical Roman pines; it is also embellished with fountains and various archaeological finds.