Caprarola is a small town perched on a tufa spur around Lake Vico. It’s in the middle of Etruria, but the first known settlements appeared around 11° c.
Palazzo Farnese stands on a hill at the foot of the Monti Cimini, dominating the village and the surrounding area: it’s a tangible sign of the power of the Farnese family, which is counted among the protagonists of the history of the 16th c. The building, which is both fortress, palace, and suburban villa, is the result of the stratification of two distinct phases of construction. The first project was entrusted to Sangallo, who conceived it as a fortress able to withstand the new firearms. He oversaw the work until 1534, when the construction stopped: the works resumed in 1559, under the supervision of Vignola, who forced changes to the village too, obtaining the long straight road. The architect replaced the angular ramparts (from the original project) with terraces: in this way the fort became a palace. In the center of the residence was built a two story circular courtyard. The helical Scala Regia acts as liaison between the noble floors: it’s considered one of Vignola’s most original inventions. The best painters and architects of the time worked in the sumptuous home. Along the rooms on the main floor unfolds an extraordinary wall decoration: in quantity and quality is one of the most important pictorial cycles of the late Mannerism. Behind the palace, connected by bridges, there are two secret gardens. Further on, on the slopes of the hill, a park with terraces, fountains and water features was built to valorise the “Casina del Piacere”, originally a hunting lodge.