Rome’s Quirinal Palace now open to all

A former home of popes, royals and emperors, and today a residence of Italy’s presidents, Rome’s Quirinal Palace has always been off-limits to anyone not within the highest reaches of society.

Until recently, only a very small portion of this grand and historical building was open to the public, but current President Sergio Mattarella has finally opened the Palace’s doors to everyone, in the belief that the palace should be the home of all Italians.

Now anyone who wishes to see what lies behind its doors can enjoy a tour of the palace’s several parlours, salons and rooms for entertaining. The tour begins by passing the Italian equivalent of the Swiss Guards, the Corazzieri, an elite corps whose duty is to protect the president. Once inside, you’ll be able to see how Popes, kings and queens entertained visiting royalty and foreign ambassadors in style. Highlights of the tour include the royal housewares collection, consisting of thousands of finely crafted tableware and exquisite porcelain, as well as the Grand Ballroom, with its dazzling chandeliers.

Built in the late 16th century, the grounds sit high atop a hill overlooking the rest of Rome, giving a straight-line view over to St Peter’s Basilica. Over the years, the various Popes who resided there commissioned architects and artists to adorn the palace and add even more to it, such as the musical Fountain of the Organ, situated in the gardens, and the Pauline Chapel, complete with a gilded stucco decorated ceiling.

Following the unification of Italy and the demise of the powerful Papal States, the royal family then took up residence, adding their own touch to the palace. The Savoy family, for instance, were responsible for the flourishes of Rococo style found throughout. Today, the palace is Italy’s answer to the White House, and is where the country’s presidents have been working, and often living, since 1948.

A stay at the Quirinal Palace may be out of our reach, but when it comes to boutique hotels, Rome has plenty to offer, with Chic Retreats’ Rome collection promising a luxurious and comfortable stay in a prime central location.

Andrew is a firm believer that travelling like a local inevitably leads to the best off-the-beaten-path finds which truly make a destination remarkably more memorable. From traditional Indian festivals in humid Hyderabad to fresh seafood pasta by the Sorrentine Peninsula, he appreciates variety when travelling. He hasn't been everywhere, but it’s on the list.