As can be seen from the progress meters at left, one of my current on-the-burner projects is a novel about Caesarion, the child of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. The opening prologue of this novel takes place at Caesar’s “country” villa across the Tiber from Rome, where Caesarion and his mother were in residence when Caesar was assassinated. I wrote the prologue some months ago, just making up the layout of the villa as I went along, but I’m now returning to it in an effort to search out some better facts about how it would have looked at that time.
While I’ve not yet found a good source for what I’m seeking (thoughts?), I was surprised to learn that the Villa Farnesina actually sits on the site of Caesar’s villa (though it’s not mentioned at that link). Pretty cool. From Frommer’s:
Agostino “il Magnifico” Chigi (1465-1520), the richest man in Europe, once lived in this sumptuous villa built for him by the architect Baldassare Peruzzi between 1508 and 1511. Some of Rome’s grandest feasts and parties, the likes of which were unknown since the days of imperial Rome, were staged here, often for popes, diplomats, artists, philosophers, and even high-priced courtesans. The Siennese banker would order his guests to toss their gold and silver plates into the Tiber after every course. Unknown to the guests, the savvy banker had placed nets under the water so that he could retrieve his treasures.
Chigi was the main money behind Raphael (you might know him from his amazing School of Athens), and some of the painter’s most remarkable works can be found there. See, for instance his Loggia of Cupid and Psyche or his Triumph of Galatea.
Sigh. Actually, now that I think about it, most folks probably know Raphael for the oft-reproduced detail of two pudgy angels at the bottom of his Sistine Madonna. I imagine that most folks who adore this little snip of art as an object of veneration are blissfully unaware that (according to Vasari) its creator died after a night of over-enthusiastic sex with his mistress.
Anyway, any thoughts about where to find a rough layout of Caesar’s country villa?