Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi
The Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi is a villa in Porta Pinciana, Rome, Italy. Measuring 2.200 square meters, it is all that remains of a country retreat, best known as Villa Ludovisi, established in the 16th century by Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte. The Cardinal was a diplomat, intellectual, art connoisseur, collector, and protector and patron of such very different figures as Galileo and Caravaggio. The ceiling of the casino has the only fresco ever done by Caravaggio, Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto, which reflects, in symbolic imagery derived from Classical mythology, another of the cardinal's interests, alchemy. The casino is also known as the Casino dell'Aurora, after an important fresco by Guercino.
Del Monte sold the casino and its extensive grounds to Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi in 1621, and the casino remains in the possession of this family, encircled by high walls and open to the public on written request to the "Amministrazione Boncompagni". The park was sold off in the 1880s and built up with hotels and expensive houses, including palazzi for members of the family. The facade of the main casino or Casino Grande (a separate building) is now hidden behind the 19th-century Palazzo Margherita. This building was acquired by the Italian State and became the residence of Queen Mother Margherita. It now houses the U.S. embassy.