Rome and its Botanic Gardens: History and Events
Towards the end of the 1800s, the palace of the Corsini family and its garden were acquired by the Italian State. The complex had undergone a radical transformation in the mid-eighteenth century, when Cardinal Neri Maria Corsini had entrusted the renovation of this property to the architect Ferdinando Fuga. In this occasion the palace was transformed from Renaissance to eighteenth-century, and the surrounding area was enriched by a magnificent set of low buildings, fountains and ornamental architecture that became the backdrop for laurel and Italian gardens.
When the first director of the Botanic Garden, Pietro Romualdo Pirotta, took possession of this area (1883), it was already in its fourth official location. In fact, the Botanic Garden of Rome has a history full of vicissitudes, concerning both the scientific institution and the area of residence itself. On these tracks moves the research "Rome and its Botanical Garden", to remember both the history of the Botanical Garden at Villa Corsini, and the origins of this institution, starting from the first Hortus Simplicium of 1278. In Rome, in fact, the Botanic Garden is the heir of the Viridarium, the section of the Vatican gardens in which the papal archiater (chief physician) cultivated medicinal plants. The first document on this institution is represented by the plaque, that today is in the “Sala dei Capitani” of the Capitoline Museums, which states that Pope Nicholas III, in 1278, had a sector of the garden built for this purpose. Nicholas V, in 1477, took an interest in its Viridaria and Pius V, in the 16th century, called the Tuscan physician Michele Mercati to direct the Vatican Garden. Since there was a collection of medicinal plants in the Vatican Garden, from which the university professors took the plants to show their students (Ostensiones simplicium), there was no immediate need in Rome for a university Botanic Garden, as instead was the case in other Italian cities, such as Padua and Pisa.