|view of Rome from Janiculum hill|
Almost fifty years later, on a beautiful February evening, an equally unforgettable encounter, this time with Irish President Michael D. Higgins to whom I had the privilege of presented a copy of my book chronicling the participation of Irish soldiers in the Italian Risorgimento.
The magnificent and historic Villa Spada was the perfect setting for it played an important part in the bloodiest battles of the Italian Risorgimento in 1849.
Arriving by train we taxied to the Embassy which is located on the Janiculum hill, close to the American Academy and the American University.
The next time I will use Il Fontanone, or Gli Archi (Porta San Pancrazio) as a reference point, for Roman taxi drivers don't all know the embassy's street address.
We had time before the Reception to enjoy the view over the city from the panoramic terrace near the Fontanone. What a magical atmosphere surrounds this huge fountain built by Pope Paul V (Camillo Borghese) and embellilshed with the Borghese family's symbolic dragon.
dragon of the Borghese
|President Higgin's portrait adorns the library fireplace|
|bouquet in one of the reception rooms|
One of the entourage, Donal Denham, the Director of the Europe Division of the Foreign Affairs Department, may have historic family connections to our area of Northern Lazio.
|guests filled the four reception rooms|
|guests from Ireland,Serbia and Italy|
|Pauline Hennessy and Sabina Higgins "guarding" the President's copy of my book|
|Ambassador Hennessy gives the welcome address|
|Meeting Irish President Michael D. Higgins|
|at end of the evening, empty glasses filled the fireplace mantle|
Hi Mary Jane,ReplyDelete
great post and a stunning place to visit!
It's important to say that Villa Spada was one of Garibaldi's headquarters during the Risorgimento and is where colonel Luciano Manara was killed in a French attack.
I found out about it when I first went there, visiting a friend of my who worked there at the time. In a room we found old prints depicting scenes of the siege. That's why nearby you can also find Via Luciano Manara.
Thanks Laura, also for the info on Luciano Manara. I think the library still has the signs of the cannon shot that killed this great patriot. By the way I have had lots of positive feedback on my new website that you set up for me http://www.raggiorama.it/about.Delete
Would loved to have been at that reception Mary Jane! Such a great leader that does our country proud - he got the 4 votes in our house at the election!ReplyDelete
That Embassy building is so beautiful which the country bought just after the Second World War. When it was announced last year that the government was closing down the Embassy to the Holy See I was fearful that they would sell the building so I was delighted to see that the Irish Embassy to Italy moved in!
I'm sure that the Ambassador and his family are also happy, Paul. They have a lovely garden and a swimming pool for the hot months. Carla Benocci wrote a beautiful book about the villa and its history (costs 170 euro) so I thought readers would like a sneak peek beyond the wallsDelete
I really enjoyed seeing inside the Villa and hearing about this wonderful event thanks to your post. Congratulations on the book. We lived 9 years in Dublin and 7 years in Naples and we have memories well stocked with the joys and fascinating history of both Ireland and Italy. Thanks MJ - Penny Ewles-BergeronReplyDelete
Dear Penny, thanks so much for your comment. Few people know about these historical connections. Glad that also you find them fascinating. Grazie.Delete
Fascinating post and a great idea for an alternative way to look around RomeReplyDelete
Dear Sammy, thanks for your comment. Now that the Pope has decided to resign, there will be renewed interest in the connections, past and present, between the Papal States and other countries, like Ireland.Delete
Hi Mary Jane, I am not from Irish descendants but I enjoyed your post.I have ordered your book before Christmas and I am discovering a part of both Irish and Italian history I didn't know. I have been to the Janiculum belvedere in Rome in 2001 with my husband. Beautiful souvenir from Rome and Italy as well. Thank you.ReplyDelete
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyDelete