Palazzo Vipereschi (seat of the Università Agraria of Tarquinia)

Old Town

Palazzo Vipereschi (seat of the Università Agraria of Tarquinia)

15th century

This building was partially constructed using the structure of the Renaissance palace of the Vipereschi family (15th century) and dates back to the pontificate of Pope Pius V (1775-99). The construction was entrusted to P. G. Massei, dean of the Conservators of the city of Rome in 1782. On the side of the palace facing Via della Salute, a window with the Vipereschi family coat of arms and inscription is still visible. Since 1627, during the pontificate of Pope Urban VIII, the palace was transformed into a prison and began to house ecclesiastics who had committed crimes. It was known as the Ergastolo or Pia Casa di Penitenza – these Italian terms refer to a prison or penitentiary.
In 1728, the building was restored, and with the annexation of Corneto to the Kingdom of Italy in 1871, it lost its function as a prison. In 1878, it became the first headquarters of the Civic Museum, later became the National Museum, founded by the Municipality and by the Università Agraria.
In 1875, Giuseppe Garibaldi was hosted here during his visit to the town. The episode is remembered in the inscription on the plaque below the bust of the Risorgimento hero located on the facade of the building. Currently, it is the seat of the Università Agraria, an important institution that primarily has the task of administering the land and buildings belonging to the town community, in the tradition of civic uses.
The facade is harmonious, with great balance in the distribution of formal elements, and shows the influence of neoclassicism. During the cleaning work of the building, a cistern was discovered, and due to the lack of historical sources, the period of its construction remains unknown.
It is located at the end of the central entrance corridor, below the floor level, and consists of three rooms: two filtering rooms and a storage chamber, which is accessed from a well that opens onto the current flooring level.

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Photography by: César Vásquez Altamirano, Tiziano Crescia, Roberto Romano, Sailko Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported, Paolo Monti

Translations by Ylenia Marcucci e Alessandro Rotatori