La Torre di Pascoli
Villa Torlonia, referred to by Pascoli as “La Torre” (“The Tower”), is a splendid exemplar of a 17th-century villa of Romagna. Located on the road that joins San Mauro Pascoli and Bellaria-Igea Marina, it occupies a total area of 8,500 square meters. It consists of a main complex with an inner courtyard and two detached buildings: the first of these contains the small church of SS. Peter and Paul as well as what was once the home of the Pascoli family, while the second, the Casa dei Fattori, is currently a restaurant.
Villa Torlonia was the center of the land holdings owned by the Torlonia family, which were once managed by Giovanni Pascoli’s father, Ruggero. La Torre witnessed the painful fermentation of Pascoli’s poetry. It was here that on August 10, 1867, the Pascoli family saw the arrival of the faithful “black and white mare” that brought their father home after his murder by unknown assassins upon his return from the market in Cesena. At that point the Pascoli family was forced to leave the Torlonia farm and return to the house in the town center where Giovanni was born.
The origins of La Torre are, however, much older: the current tower descends from the Roman-era “Giovedia” (Temple of Jupiter), where, according to learned local tradition, Julius Caesar stopped to pray after crossing the Rubicon in 49 BCE. At first a Roman fortress, La Torre was later owned by the Malatesta and was the residence of Antonia da Barignano, mother of Pandolfo and Novello.
In 1780 Pope Pius VI (Angelo Braschi) granted La Torre to his nephew Luigi Onesti Braschi in perpetuity. In 1828 the property passed to Duke Don Giovanni Torlonia.
His son, Alessandro Torlonia, transformed La Torre into a large estate with 145 farms. Indeed The Torlonia family converted La Torre into a model agricultural business, which continued to prosper until the end of the Second World War, achieving significant results under the management of the noted agronomist and engineer Leopoldo Tosi of Rimini. Tosi was responsible for the selection of the cattle breed “gentile romagnola” as well as for the production of quality wines, such as the Champagne La Tour, sought after by the poet Giovanni Pascoli himself. Upon the death of Giovanni Torlonia, his grandchildren sold the property, which caused unrest in the early 1950s among farmers who wished to prevent the break-up of the estate. In the end the farms were sold off separately and the tower became the property of private persons.
In 1974 the Ministry of Education declared the structure of particular historical interest, placing it under state supervision as a characteristic (and today quite rare) example of a 17th/18th-century villa of Romagna.
Since 1983 the Villa Torlonia has been owned by the municipality: that year marked the beginning of restoration efforts which aim to return the Villa to its former splendor.
The Parco Poesia Pascoli
Today Villa Torlonia, together with the poet’s house of birth (Museo Casa Pascoli), forms part of the Parco Poesia Pascoli (“Pascoli Poetry Park”), an open cultural initiative promoted by the municipal government with the aim of fostering appreciation for the ties of Giovanni Pascoli’s poetry to his birthplace San Mauro as well as for the remarkable qualities of the entire area connected with the poet’s life.
As part of this initiative, the Villa Torlonia was reopened to the public in 2014. It has made new areas available for performances, exhibitions, concerts, weddings, conferences and events. By making the complex accessible every day of the year, the municipal government aims to make the Villa a point of reference for cultural activities and tourism, hoping to promote connections between tourism in the coastal areas and that in the Romagna hinterland.
In addition to programming numerous events aiming to promote the qualities of the region, this initiative wishes to revitalize the structures of the complex itself: in the works are a new Sala del Teatro (Theater Hall) for winter performances, new exhibition rooms (the Sala delle Tabacchine and the Sala delle Tinaie, dedicated to tobacco processing and wine production, respectively) and a multi-media interactive museum devoted to the life and works of Giovanni Pascoli and Romagna generally.
In the last few years, the Villa Torlonia has become a point of reference for cultural events and performances, thanks to the involvement of local and regional cultural associations and citizen groups. It has played a role in connecting the coast with the hinterland: indeed it has become the first stop for “beach tourists” who make their way into the hinterland to discover the places and stories that this stretch of land has to offer.
Info and contacts: Comune San Mauro Pascoli, Facebook page: Villa Torlonia Parco Poesia Pascoli
Tel. 0541 936025, Website: www.comune.sanmauropascoli.fc.it
Villa Torlonia apre al pubblico.