Find more about our new ring
Near the Scenic Steps, there is a hidden gem, a dandy and grotesque building with a Dantesque mask entrance that leaves you speechless. This sixteenth-century edifice, located between Via Sistina and Via Gregoriana in Rome, is known as “Monsters house” because of its windows and entrance door. However, this residence was the “house of dreams” of an eccentric artist, who designed the facade and interiors as a mirror of his personality and as proof of his successes.
This building is an extravagant whim of Federico Zuccari, a fanciful Mannerist painter famous for frescoes of the cathedral of Florence.
He also completed, after his brother’s death, the frescoes at Villa Farnese in Caprarola, a residence not far from the monstrous sculptures of the Sacred Wood of Bomarzo. Fascinated by this enigmatic and surreal place, Zuccari bought a plot of land right on the remains of the ancient garden of Lucullo, and built his illustrious home there, giving passers-by the same magnetic attraction that he felt when visiting the monumental park of Viterbo: an initial thrill followed by the irrepressible desire to cross an unusual entrance.
The terrifying threshold hid an enchanting rose garden and interior which was in stark contrast with the facade. This contrast was amplified by rich frescos that decorated the walls and ceiling; a psychological manipulation of Zuccari. Satisfying his vanity led to bankruptcy, however, Zuccari succeeded in his intentions of gathering in his homonymous residence “as an essence in a vase, all the sovereign sweetness of Rome”. (Gabriele D’Annunzio, The Pleasure).
Palazzo Zuccari underwent several changes and extensions over the centuries, but the facade on Via Gregoriana remained almost unchanged. The three masks on the facade no longer overlook the historic garden but guard the splendid “Biblioteca Hertziana” (Hertziana Library) by Juan Navarro Baldeweg that houses more than 300,000 volumes of art. Despite these changes, the library somehow fulfills the wishes of Zuccari, who would have liked his property to become a residence for artists.
The frightening portal of Palazzo Zuccari has always given visitors a restless desire to pass through it, generating rapture and wonder. Today, changing the perspective and looking outwards from inside the monster’s jaws, we can observe the world and learn to live with the monsters!
This is why our Zuccari ring wants to be a tribute to the monsters with which man can join hands and walk together, backward, from matter to a renewed soul.
Discover our new Zuccari rings now!
Curated by Maria Chiara Virgili, @Dannati_architetti