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Restauro e Consolidamento del Castello-Palazzo ORSINI - BARBERINI - DEL GRILLO in Monterotondo (RM). Comune di Monterotondo. Restauro e Consolidamento della Torre

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Hystoric report

The area in which Monterotondo now rises, was, during the Roman Period, the one of Nomentum and was most of all a mansions' area.
During the high Middle Ages, the first agricultural settlements and the main little centre of Monterotondo were built.
During X century it is reported to be an agricultural centre or grangia and dependingfrom the Farfa'a Abbey.
Its subsequent success and development were determined by the short distance from Rome and the morphologic nature of the territory, from which its name derives "campus rotundus". It is an isolated hill having a 360° visibility.

During the XI century Monterotondo was included among the properties of S. Paolo Fuori le Mura. The monks, who, since 936 adopted the new monastic discipline created with the benedectine reform, cluniacense, in France, acquired the power of the reputation of the new Reformed monastic orders and which, will last for more than three centuries; they were the first to fortify the town, to palisade it and build, the first town's walls.
During the XII century, the town of Monterotondo, together with some towns nearby passed from the abbey to the Capocci Family, as they were vavasours.
During the XIII century, the territory of Monterotondo was made over from the church of S. Paolo Fuori le Mura, according to the "Emphyteusis" Law, to Matteo Rubeo Orsini, who was one of the senators of Rome in 1241 and was considered a valid captain. In this period, the first settlement of the Orsini's fortress was built and many of the country settlements nearby were annexed.
Anyway, the urbanization of Monterotondo was achieved in two different periods, ranging from the half of XII century to the beginning of XIII century.
During XIV century Orso Orsini started to annex other pre-existing settlements. His descendant Orso Orsini Gentile completed the expansion building the wall.
The fortress was built on the highest area of the town of Monterotondo, surrounding the pre-existent buildings.
Many documents found out from the Orsini's Archive certify the fortress was a house yet in the early XIII century. As a matter of fact, at the half of the century, Pio II was housed there. The archive reports in the Commentarii: "Monsrotundus non ignobile oppidum". It was built as it was divided into two houses with the aim to house two of the Orsinis' families
The original building had a quadrangular shape similar to a square, having squared pitched towers and with average pinnacles. It has an internal courtyard developing around the donjon. It is about 45mt high. It is a pre-existing part, as it was an isolated observation tower, having a shoe-shaped base. It was gradually included in the arcades and in other enlargements. It was realized as "tufelli" hanging or better as squared off bricks of travertine which were very common in the XIII century.

The morphology and building procedure of the urban walls and of the fortress are very similar: squared towers located at the same intervals with a masonry made of squared travertine bricks.
Many evidences refer the building period dates back to XIII -XIV centuries. It is reported the first building period dates back to the marriage between Lorenzo de' Medici and Clarice Orsini (1468).
Since that event, the Medici family could have influenced and refined the aesthetic-artistic level of the Orsini Family.
At the end of XIII century was built, next to the donjon, the portico with three arches on octagonal pillars. The capitals' drawing is similar to the Roman's ones, even if the manufacture is a local one.
In 1500 Franciotto Orsini, brought up in Florence, together with Lorenzo il Maglifico's sons, who were also descendant of Lorenzo Orsini, inherited the fortress of Monterotondo and the village with the walls. The first was in a very bad condition, the second one had been destroyed by the Family Borgia's will, during the war between Innocenzo III and the king of Naples, allied with the Orsini.
The two branches of the fortress underwent many changes and enlargements who saturated a part of the yard and went beyond the original surface.
The cardinal Franciotto, appointed by his cousin Leone X, changed the fortress into a noble abode between 1526 and 1531, making changes which where common in the renaissance period: the enlargement of the main floor; It was changed into a regular floor, elongated and completed with the building of a rooms' gallery; a double flight staircase that with a pre-existing portion, borders a little squared yard, having in the centre the white marble balustrade of a cistern; the main entrance of the abode with the wide rusticated main door.
The precarious and immoderate enlargements, on the Southern side, made by Lorenzo's descendants were destroyed by the Barberinis.
The cardinal Franciotto who died in 1534, started the decoration of the main floor. It was completed by his descendants at the end of XIV century. The frescoes by Gerolamo Siciolante from Sermoneta, representing the story of the Adoni's myth date back to 1553-55. The landscape view of Monterotondo, during the XIV century, is signed by Paul Brill and the date reported is 1581. It is to underline that the three mountains on which the town rose are the ones which then would have been represented on the municipality's official badge.
The strength of the new building, the quality of the materials and of the decorations used, avoided the risk of eventual tampering. The rooms built to house Leone X, together with the one made by the Barberinis will be the private apartment of Urbano VIII Barberini.

Nowadays, of the abode only 4 rooms stand, after the heavy restoration works which underwent during the 30?s which included the unnecessary demolition of the panel ceiling by Soria and of the frescoes by Pietro da Cortona, which were located at the top floor of the building,
On January 8th 1626, Arrigo and Francesco Orsini, sold Carlo Barberini, Urbano VIII?s brother, a portion of the feud. They committed themselves to sell him even the remaining part, if they would have won the lawsuit against the Royal Apostolic Chamber , Bertolde and all the other Orsini.

On November 14th, when they won the lawsuit, the selling to the Barberinis was carried out, with Urbano VIII?s clearance.
The final change in an abode was lastly achieved with the transfer of ownership.
The Barberinis appointed a staff of architects to edit the enlargement project and change it from fortress into a Palace.
The project published in 1627 was made by Domenico Castelli and Giulio Buratti, with the support of many professionals of the sector. Among them: Frà Michele Cappuccino, Vincenzo della Greca, Bartolomeo Braccioli, and Giovan Angelo Bonazzini.
The aim of the project was to unify all the buildings, built in different periods and having different architectonic features. Thanks to the use of a an external counterface aimed at making uniform the sides overlooking the countryside and the town and crushing the Western area of the castle.
The ownership passed to marquises del Grillo from Genoa in 1699. It did not result in any change for the sumptuous rooms of the castle.

After the decline of the Pontifical State, in 1814, the ownership passed to the Boncompagnis. They will rent the palace to the Municipality. The latter acquired it in 1890.
In 1898 a sudden fall of the right area of the palace occurred. The fall due to construction faults and a lack of maintenance works, involved the area of the dining-room overlooking Via Oberdan. After the fall a first restoration was carried out and a following one was performed in 1905.
After the damages provoked by the earthquake in 1915 in the area of Avezzano, which determined the loss of the original decoration of the donjon, the Municipality charged the engineers Giovannoni and Barluzzi with the entire project. The restoration plan was based on very respectful and delicate works for what concern the preservation of the Palace.
Anyway, in 1930 the Civil engineering charged with the project the Eng. Luigi Riccioni. He had a different aim with respect to a restoration purposes and so, he planned and carried out the total demolition of the roofs' coverings and of the valuable wooden beam floors by Soria, of the pavements and frescos and the creation of a terraced covering even if in this way he distorted completely the palace morphologic monumental features.
The interior of the Palace was used with several purposes as, for instance, the Municipality Offices, the Carabinieri station and the detached department of the magistrate's court, day nursery, female and male primary school, vocational school and secondary school.
In 1944 the palace was occupied by the V Allied Armed troop (Americans) and it was used as Court and military jail.
Technical report
The work will be carried out by using laminar wood for the covering. The wood will be supplied by a relevant industry and will be coupled with the gluing certificate and the conformity of production one, according to the Law DIN 1052.
It will be up to the drafstman to choose the quality or the category, on the base of the calculation and the wood resistance of the several structural elements.
For what concerns the covering we will apply a caulked packet made of planks of tapped and refined fir tree, steam barrier, insulating material, top plywood closing panel or OSB certified.
The plan will also foresee the wooden structures' fire-resistance where demanded by the laws in force.
The main phases of the work will be:

  1. setting of scaffolds and safety structures
  2. setting of the hoist
  3. partial demolitions and creation of the perimeter riddles
  4. creation of laminar wood structures made of trusses, secondary roof scaffolding and caulked covering packet
  5. covering's sealing, using a sheath
  6. laying of eaves and tiles
  7. creation of a wooden attic suitable for roof inspection and even being a false ceiling.
  8. Seismic adjustment works on the tower: positioning of crosswise stiffening in the walls, sew and unsew works, restoring of the balconies' insole and of the balustrades, restoring of the wooden eaves, closing of the pre-existent holes in the masonry, replenishment of the pillars' lesions included in the contract specifications
  9. Plasterworks and paintings of the areas with scaffolds
  10. Demolition and subsequent replacement of the perimeter balustrades in correspondence to the flat roof with provisional parapets made of joint tubes.