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main index © Jeff Matthews entry May 2003 update Dec 2015
The most striking building along the Riviera di Chiaia, the road bounding the north side of the Villa Comunale on the sea front between Mergellina and Piazza Vittoria, is certainly the Museo Principe di Aragona Pignatelli Cortes, known to Neapolitans, simply, as Villa Pignatelli.
In 1826, Ferdinand Acton entrusted to Pietro Valente the task of building a Greco-Roman style residence that would then, in the English fashion of the day, be the centerpiece of a park. The intention of Valenti and the owner was to create a kind of Pompeian villa with the central atrium moved to the front of the building where Doric columns would then provide the only opening onto the gardens. The magnificence of these columns still strikes the eye of the casual passer-by today from the avenue fifty yards away.
The property has changed
hands a few times since the construction of the
villa. It was bought in 1841 by Karl Meyer von
Rothschild of the German family of financiers; then
in 1867 it came into the hands of the Duke of
Monteleone, Diego Aragona Pignatelli Cortes, whose
widow then willed it to the Italian state in 1952.
The villa today has managed to preserve and maintain
intact the fine gardens in front of the building.
The grounds house a coach museum, a collection of
French and English vehicles from the eighteenth and
nineteenth century. It is also the site of numerous