Elegance is opulence

Once a noble residence, then a religious centre, now a sumptuous private home. Rome’s Villa sul Palazzo has regained its splendour thanks to the contemporary intervention of the Spanish architect Ramón Esteve

Villa sul palazzo - photo © Alfonso Calza
Villa sul palazzo - photo © Alfonso Calza

Architecture & Interior design: RamÛn Esteve, Estudio
Constructor: Architect Luigi Lauri, Ecofim
Furnishings: Onyx Marble table, Calacatta Gold Marble sideboard, bed by Ramon Esteve, Baxter, Glas Italia Minotti, Talenti
Kitchens: Bulthaup, Dornbracht
Lighting: Baxter, Catellani & Smith, Flos
Bathrooms: Sink and bespoke shelf by Ramon Esteve
Fabrics: Brunello Cucinelli, Frette
Photo credits: Alfonso Calza

It is one of the rare points from which a truly unique photograph of the Eternal City can be taken. Indeed, the optical rules are turned upside down and here it is the object that captures the subject. Privilege is a constant feature of Rome’s Villa sul Palazzo, starting from its position. Located above the Valle del Tevere, with one of its facades overlooking the Vatican, the building dominates from on high and enjoys a direct relationship with the exterior created by the great number of openings.

Built in 1912 by the engineer Giovanni Battista Milani as the Capitoline residence of Prince Carrega, extended in 1955 to house the monastery of the Congregazione delle Ancelle del Sacro Cuore di Gesù, it is now enjoying its third reincarnation – as a luxurious private residence – that bears the contemporary mark of the Spanish architect Ramón Esteve. Different states of ‘grandeur’ repeated over time in the attainment of a magnificence never betrayed, including in this latter case. It is enough just to enter to appreciate the spirit of the project, respectful of the existing image, the neoclassical columns, materials like Roman travertine and Calacatta marble that Esteve sets alongside brass, mirrored glass and oak wood.

The caramelised veining of the marble is emphasised with the gold finishes – also reflected by the mirror surfaces – of the lighting designed by Catellani & Smith, Baxter and Flos, the Minotti coffee tables, the Dornbracht taps, kitchen elements specifically designed in Calacatta Gold alongside the B3 model of Bulthaup, the contours of the stairs. Gold is a constant leitmotiv that is repeated in outlines of the interior lift, a sculptural vertical element in transparent glass, made-to-measure for the building. The furnishings, some designed by the architect and others by Baxter and Minotti, exist in perfect harmony with the antique pieces.

Esteve also pays tribute to the elite space of the villa, the tower, with a few basic elements – including the Graz chair of Paola Navone for Baxter, the Arco lamp of Achille Castiglioni for Flos, the entirely glass Oscar table by Piero Lissoni for Glas Italia – highlighting its uniqueness. But the strongpoint is the central terrace where the architect creates a proper roof garden with two swimming pools, one indoor and one outdoor – along with fireplaces – lemon and olive trees, two symmetrical fountains and a patio from which to enjoy the splendid panorama sat comfortably on the elegant gold Casilda furnishings, produced by Talenti and designed by Ramón Esteve: it is here that the villa merges with the city and its spirit.