What is now the Ospedale del Celio in Rome was built on the area that used to be occupied by the ancient Villa Casali. After the unification of Italy a big part of the villa was destroyed to make space for new constructions.
Ospedale del Celio Rome
Address: Piazza Celimontana, 50 – Rome. Phone: (+39) 06 701961. The hospital is not open to tourists.
The villa started its existence as property of the family Massimo, who later sold it ti the family Teofoli. Later Marquis Mario Casali inherited it from his wife Margherita di Sertorio Teofili.
At the end of the 17th century, the Casali had a house constructed by the architect Tommaso Mattei. They also had an enormous garden laid out.
In those days the main road through the villa faced the Santo Stefano Rotondo Church, while the side roads ended at the apse of the Santi Quattro Coronati Church.
In 1871 the city decided to develop the area. The owners of the land were supposed to build houses and the city would take care of the infrastructure.
Initially most of the villa was saved. However, in 1884, having decided to build a military hospital on its grounds, the city bought everything and five years later completely destroyed it. More than 50000 m² of green area disappeared.
The new military hospital was constructed between 1884 and 1889. It was designed by Colonel Luigi Durand de la Penne together with the architect Salvatore Bianchi.
It consists of a series of 30 pavilions, connected by galleries and metal walkways.
Works of art
Of the works of art collected by Cardinal Antonio Casali many were lost. Others ended up in Copenhagen’s Ny Carlsbergh Glyptotek. These include the “Casali Sarcophagus”, the “Antinoo Casali” and a mosaic depicting the “Rape of Europe”.
During excavations for the foundations of the hospital several ancient structures were unearthed.
The Basilica Hilariana was built by the pearl merchant Manius Publicius Hilarus. One of the most interesting finds was a mosaic with a depiction of the evil eye, which can now be viewed in the Antiquario Comunale del Celio. The building consisted of a porticoed courtyard surrounded by various rooms. It was probably used as a sort of temple for the followers of the goddess Cybele, who was know as the Magna Mater (“Great mother”) and was a very important deity in ancient Rome. The base of a statue dedicated to Hilarus himself, was also found in this spot.
Other ruins unearthed in the area include those of the house of the Simmaci, a senatorial family in the Imperial era.